What Does Setting Boundaries in Relationships Mean, Anyway?
Setting boundaries in relationships means setting healthy limits on both yourself and the other person in the relationship. Personal boundaries are limits we set for ourselves and others that allow us to protect ourselves from both physical and emotional harm. These boundaries may be emotional, behavioral, or even financial.
Setting boundaries in relationships stems from having good self-esteem and self-worth. These boundaries. when healthy, are fluid and flexible in response to the situation you might be in at the time.
Setting boundaries in relationships doesn’t mean that you are being strict it means you are practicing good self care.
Healthy boundaries in relationships indicates that you have had healthy relationships modeled for you in the past, such as childhood. Rigid boundaries, unhealthy boundaries, or even a lack of boundaries, indicates that somewhere in your past you’ve had unhealthy boundaries modeled for you.
Having healthy boundaries means you have a healthy relationship with yourself as well as your partner.
Why Setting Boundaries in Your Relationships Is So Important
Healthy intact boundaries are fluid and flexible. They allow us to be vulnerable with and close to others when it is appropriate. They also allow us to maintain our distance both emotionally and physically when closeness might be dangerous or harmful.
Setting boundaries in our relationships in a healthy way does many things. Not the least of which, it protects us from abuse and keeps us safe. If you are setting boundaries in dating relationships then you might have a “safe call” person. Someone that knows if they haven’t heard from you by a certain time then something is wrong. That’s setting a boundary with yourself. Setting a boundary with your date might be letting them know that you participate in the 90 day rule. That is, you don’t become physically intimate for the first 90 days of a relationship.
Now, healthy boundaries also allow for deeper connection which allows true intimacy to develop over time. An example of this could be setting a No Technoference rule for the dinner table and the bedroom or creating a Digital Detox weekend.
Conversely, unhealthy and or rigid or even lack of boundaries often emerge from dysfunctional family backgrounds. This is an unhealthy relationship waiting to happen. Lack of boundaries can lead to many things.
A simple example of unhealthy boundaries could be when one partner says yes when really they want to say no. This yes can lead to resentment building up over time which can create a host of relational challenges.
Another example of an unhealthy boundary might be when one partner feels pressured for physical intimacy too soon within a dating relationship. This person may feel like they are unable to say no because of a fear that the partner might leave them. This is a result of a poor relationship with themselves and a low self-esteem or sense of self-worth.
What Boundaries Should You Set?
First, recognize and acknowledge your own emotions. What things do you dislike, what makes you feel angry, what makes you feel sad. These are some great first boundaries to set.
I very much dislike to be talked to in an angry tone of voice and so consequently that is the first boundary I set with a lot of people. Also, letting them know that my time is precious and I don’t appreciate it being wasted or squandered.
Also consider things you need to thrive. I need a healthy dose of alone time and self care in my relationships. So consequently I often set a boundary of an hour of undisturbed time for a bath at least three nights per week, time in the morning to ease in to my day, time to work out and do yoga.
What boundaries do you feel you would benefit from and what boundaries do you think your relationship would benefit from?
JoyWork Suggestion: Consider easing yourself in to boundary setting with simple boundaries first.
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