“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.”
~ Brené Brown
Establishing and discussing healthy boundaries in a partnership is important so both individuals have a sense of clarity, open and honest communication.
In order for a relationship to be healthy, It’s essential to be clear of what you want, need and how far you will go with someone and how far you will let them go with you. This is healthy boundary setting which encompasses a mutual respect and acceptance.
Begin with setting healthy boundaries with yourself which will help you with healthy self-esteem.
It’s up to you to feel responsible for your own happiness and accepting and respecting differences in your partner. It’s healthy to accept endings as opposed to not letting go. Healthy boundaries include having friendships outside of the relationship.
An example of unhealthy boundaries include relaying on your partner for happiness or to complete you.
You need to feel whole and complete with yourself. Jealousy, insecurity, lying, gaminess and manipulation are purely unhealthy and with any of these behaviors, a relationship cannot sustain.
When you are attempting to understand a partner’s feelings, it is good to never assume, rather ask them about their feelings.
You will want to follow-through with what you say to your partner. It’s helpful when both partners are in alignment with what they say and their actions. When this does not occur, there is a misalignment and issues can develop. Both partners each need to take responsibility for their actions at all times.
If your partner chooses not to respect your boundaries, then it may be time to re-evaluate and move on.
Remember that boundary setting takes time and can be successful with both partners willing to work at this.
Connie Clancy Fisher, ED.D. – www.drconstance.com
Boundaries are what define the parameters of a relationship.
They include expectations, rules, what’s ok and what isn’t. Boundaries exist to keep a relationship safe. Knowing the boundaries makes it less likely that you will violate them. Talking about the boundaries helps to ensure that you and your partner are on the same page.
Some boundaries should probably be talked about early on in a relationship.
An example would be exclusivity. Sometimes one person has an expectation of exclusivity that the other partner doesn’t share, especially if it’s a new relationship. One person can’t decide if the relationship is exclusive, but each person needs to feel free to voice their opinions and needs before someone gets hurt.
Some boundaries come up as the relationship progresses.
I think family of origin boundaries fall into this category. People often have different expectations for the role that families and even friends will play in the primary relationship. A lot of your expectations will depend on how you were raised. If you came from a big, loving family you may expect the kind of closeness that a person from a more disengaged family might find overwhelming.
Some boundaries are unspoken.
Behaviors and the responses to those behaviors reveal them. For instance, if you tend to be late and your partner is really angry about it, that tells you something about his boundary around time management. The more time we spend together, the more we learn about our partner’s feelings and needs and the more he will learn about you as well.
In general it should be pretty easy to talk about boundaries especially if you approach the subject openly and respectfully.
It’s when one partner feels that what they want is right and therefore the other partner is wrong that problems arise. There’s hardly ever a right or wrong, but there are differences that really need to be discussed. Most of the time an open conversation will lead to greater understanding and ultimately useful compromises.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
In a healthy relationship, it is important to honor each other’s boundaries.
What that means is you understand when you become too intrusive and are aware when you make your partner uncomfortable. You pay close attention to his cues and are able to maintain a healthy balance in your interactions and behaviors. You are also willing to make the necessary changes so that the relationship remains strong, satisfying and equal.
However, sometimes lovers are not so intuitive and if that “clueless” person is the guy you are seeing, you need to set certain guidelines:
1. The purpose of setting boundaries is to protect yourself from a partner who can be abusive, inconsiderate and selfish.
2. By stating your feelings, you let him know that your rights have been overstepped and that you are taking responsibility for yourself and your well-being.
3. Know that you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and that it is vital if you are to love yourself and maintain your self-worth. So, you learn to speak your mind, explain what makes you uncomfortable and offer suggestions for making changes.
4. When you set a boundary, you also have to let go of the outcome. This is because, your partner may be incapable of changing or not willing to change. It is his choice to refuse to make things better. Then you have to choose whether you will leave the relationship because respect for yourself is more important than being in an unhealthy relationship.
Setting personal boundaries defines the edges of your physical and emotional space.
Pick and choose the most important behaviors that need to be discussed and then state your request. How he treats you is based on how strong or weak your request is. In other words, if you make it seem like it’s not a big deal, he may not get that you really mean for him to change. You need to be firm, but kind and your body language should be in sync.
Also remember that how you treat your partner is based on your respect for and understanding of his boundaries, as well.
Hopefully, you will both be willing to make the necessary improvements to keep your relationship honest, respectful and mutually satisfying, understanding how important respect really is.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
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