No matter how much you love somebody, setting boundaries in relationships is necessary.
Whether it’s with a romantic partner, a friend or a parent, creating boundaries can help make you prioritize self-care and feel respected in your day-to-day interactions.
They also help define what behavior is appropriate in the relationship, and keep both people safe. First, you might be asking, what are boundaries?
It’s different for everyone, but ultimately setting boundaries is a way to define expectations of ourselves and others.
Here are the most important boundaries that you should set in your relationships with others, no matter what.
How to set boundaries
Boundaries are best set early on in a relationship, but no matter how long you’ve known someone, you can establish healthy rules and limitations at any point. First and foremost, you’ll need to know what you want out of the relationship based on your beliefs and values. Think about things like what behavior bothers you, how you like to spend your time, and what qualities you admire in other people.
Next, you can assess how you feel. If you find yourself pressured, disrespected or overwhelmed after an interaction, reflect on why you feel those emotions. This reflection can help you figure out if you want to set limitations. Finally, communicate your needs to other at an appropriate time and enforce those boundaries if they’re crossed. People in a relationship with healthy boundaries take responsibility for their actions and consider each other’s feelings.
1. The ability to say no
This is especially tough for people-pleasers. Saying no doesn’t come naturally to everybody, but sometimes you need to say no for the sake of your sanity. Having FOMO can also make it hard to say no. But remember to trust your gut and listen to that inner voice telling you to stay home in your pajamas, even though all your friends keep trying to convince you to go to some event. This is the foundation of healthy boundaries.
2. Asking for space
We all need personal space at some point or another. Whether it’s cooling down after a heated fight, self-care time or simply needing space and quiet while you’re working on something important, you’re absolutely entitled to that time, and your loved ones need to respect that.
Everyone has a different definition of privacy, and it’s important to lay yours out on the table with roommates, romantic partners and more. You decide how much you share, and even if your lives are intersecting in on way or another, you still have control of your mind and aren’t required to blurt out every thought, feeling or desire. Sometimes, a discussion can violate privacy and other times, it’s a partner snooping on your phone.
We all fight, but how we fight says a lot about us. Everybody has different emotional boundaries, but it’s important to voice that tolerance to your partner. For instance, is yelling a no-go when fighting? Do you require time to process after a fight rather than discussing it immediately? Figuring out your emotional boundaries, especially in a context of conflict, can help your relationships thrive and bring you more peace of mind.
5. The boundary of respect
People will treat you how you demand to be treated, so don’t be afraid to demand respect. As soon as you establish yourself as a doormat in relationships, people will naturally start to take advantage of that and manipulate or disrespect you. If you’re not treated in a way that makes you feel empowered and respected, it might be time to reexamine that relationship.
6. Letting go of codependency
Having your own identity is scary, but it’s essential. If you’re experiencing co-dependency in a long-term relationship. This is also connected to personal space. Personal space can help you develop your independence and personal identity, preventing the common pitfall of co-dependence and clinginess, which can suffocate a relationship.
Money is always an awkward thing to discuss with people in various scenarios. Whether it’s a friend that keeps asking to borrow money and hasn’t paid it back or an unequal division of funds in a romantic relationship, setting boundaries with your finances is absolutely essential!
8. Make room for shifting boundaries
Boundaries aren’t a single, rigid thing concept that stays the same over the years. Things like starting a new job, losing a loved one, moving back home or having kids are all things that can create shifting boundaries. But relationships also shift over time, and the manner in which you handle these changes together can help strengthen your bond if you have each other’s backs.