All relationships should start by setting healthy boundaries. When both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their integrity, that’s when relationships thrive. Setting healthy boundaries can be challenging, especially when you are in a new relationship. However, without that essential conversation, many people find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect the others’ feelings, and therefore, feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of the other person’s.
This conversation about boundaries isn’t just about how your partner can or can’t treat you. It is a road map for how to handle conflicts in the future. It is an opportunity to get to know your partner’s comfort level in different situations. Every couple is different but having those boundaries ensures you can engage in healthy, meaningful, and respectful relationships.
Identify Your Limits
Your needs will almost definitely change over time, but it is good to know what your feelings and comfort levels are at this moment before you can set up boundaries with your partner. It takes some time to discover what you can and cannot tolerate, what makes you happy, and what makes you uncomfortable or stressed. Often, boundaries are crossed when someone does not express when they have a problem or issue with certain behaviors. Fear of starting an argument and rocking the boat is the main reason why partners often don’t share what is bothering them. It is okay to have preferences, and it is absolutely okay to let your partner know.
Identify what actions or behaviors would be unacceptable to you and make a point of sticking to those standards. Many people come into a relationship with weak boundaries and become so encompassed by the other person’s “stuff” that they have no idea what they are feeling. Take the time to step away, reflect, and check-in with yourself if you are unsure how you feel about a situation.
Recognize and Be Direct
Don’t be shy when it comes to letting people know what your boundaries are. People who have similar communication styles will be more comfortable to engage with. These people will be able to understand quickly what your new boundaries are. However, it is not always so simple, and people with different communication styles or personalities may not easily understand your boundaries. When a line has been crossed, it is crucial to recognize and correct.
The more specific you are with sharing your limits, the better. As the relationship moves forward, you will find out more about what you can handle and what you can’t. It can help to talk about why you hold specific standards for your partner. What was the process you went through to determine what you are comfortable with?
Take Care of Yourself
Remember to put your needs first. This may sound selfish, but you are not able to be there 100 percent for someone if you are consistently only focusing on other people’s needs. Sometimes setting boundaries can bring up specific reactions or feelings of guilt. Your limits are for you to feel safe and secure. This is the time to focus on your feelings and what you need to feel happy and well.
Ultimately, healthy relationships require clear parameters. When you express what rules and goals you have for yourself and others, all parties leave knowing exactly what the other person expects of them.
Speak With Someone
Many of us experience periods of low self-worth. During these times, setting healthy boundaries for ourselves may seem quite tricky. It is important to remember that talking to a therapist can help you identify where those feelings are coming from and how to change your patterns and behavior. A therapist can also help you talk about your boundaries as well as how you can communicate them clearly with your partner.
To have a long lasting relationship with anyone, start by having a conversation about setting healthy boundaries. Together, you can decide what feels healthy and what doesn’t for each of you. There may be some discussion and compromising as you figure out an agreement that works for both of you but know as complicated as the conversation may be, it is worth it in order for all parties to thrive in the relationship.