Having boundaries is what differentiates a healthy and fulfilling relationship from a toxic relationship. We are usually not taught how to set boundaries. This can lead to confusion about when it is important to set a boundary. Those who did not learn how to enforce boundaries or have no boundaries in place at all, ultimately don’t stand up for themselves or admit when someone else does something unacceptable. They usually just allow for things to happen to them that they don’t necessarily agree with.
I know this because I have been there. Surely, we all have. I was aware that certain things were unacceptable and bothered me, however, I could never find the courage to speak up for myself. Eventually, I grew to understand how to set boundaries and why they are necessary for a relationship to work.
If you are reading this because you know that you need to set boundaries, but are unsure where to start, this is for you.
Why You Should Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries allows both individuals to respect the relationship, while also respecting the relationship they have with themselves. These boundaries set a precedent for what is expected in a relationship.
When You Should Set Boundaries
Before you share your boundaries with someone, you must first understand what you are willing to accept for yourself. This is a good time to think over any boundaries that may have been crossed in the past and how it made you feel.
If you can address boundaries early on in the relationship, the better that it will be. Even if you are unsure as to where your relationship is going, addressing these boundaries will allow you to see if your partner respects you and values what you have to say.
Let your partner know what you are willing to accept and what you will not tolerate. Once you have shared this, ask your partner how they feel about these boundaries. This will create an open conversation where you and your partner can address any situations or boundaries that need to be in place for your relationship to keep progressing.
Here are 6 Tips To Set Healthy Boundaries In A Relationship
1. Love Yourself First
Loving yourself is the first and most crucial step in setting boundaries. If you do not know how to love yourself and stick up for yourself, as a result, you will continuously attract people into your life that are going to take advantage of you.
When you love yourself, you begin to understand your value and how worthy you are. With this, you start to value the amazing things that you are capable of which will allow you to have an easier time engaging in these uncomfortable conversations.
I strongly encourage you to practice positive self-talk and live your life for YOU. Some people are not going to be accepting of you. There are going to be people that don’t agree with your boundaries and that is okay. While there may be one person in the crowd that does not respect your boundaries, there are twenty that will. Just stay true to who you are and what you want for yourself, and the people that are meant to be in your life will be.
2. Know Your Worth
One of the main reasons relationships tend to fail is because we do not know our true worth. Before you can communicate your value to someone else, you must know for yourself. If you are uncertain about your identity, it can be difficult to communicate your worth to someone else. If you are aware of your worth, you can set healthy standards and communicate to your partner about what is acceptable to you.
Knowing your self-worth without any influence from another person is hard to accomplish. According to Better Help, self-worth is something that many people struggle with. They reported “85% of people struggle with having a good self-worth.” Once you can understand your self-worth and the importance of taking care of yourself and your needs, you will put yourself in a better position to set and enforce these boundaries.
3. Communication Is KEY!
Setting boundaries means talking about difficult things or situations even if you are uncomfortable in the moment. It is important that when speaking to your partner about boundaries, you do so with compassion and understanding of each other’s feelings and expectations. If you choose to not speak about these boundaries, it may put yourself as well as your relationship at risk.
These boundaries set the expectations of your relationship. Once the boundaries are set, you must be consciously aware of them all of the time. Relationships tend to end due to the boundaries not being enforced. Regardless of how uncomfortable you may be at the time, you have to check in to make sure these boundaries are still in place. A tip for communicating these boundaries to your partner is to write them down on a piece of paper and then talk about them once you both are available. This will allow you to think about the healthy boundaries you want to set beforehand and be prepared for any conversation that is to come.
4. Use I” Statements
When setting boundaries with someone, you must convey them the right way. You must address how something makes you feel, rather than pointing out what they may have done wrong. Once you start to blame the other person, they will begin to act from a defensive state and feel as if you are attacking them. As a result of this defensive state, it will become harder to continue the conversation with mutual respect.
Some examples of “I” statements you can use:
- I feel upset when you ____
- I feel like ___ when ____ happened
- I don’t agree with ____ because ____
- I am not happy when _____ happens
Rather than saying:
- You made me feel like ___ when _____
- You always do ____
- You are so _____
5. Stay Accountable
Oftentimes when we are comfortable with someone, we start to make excuses for them. For example, if your partner is being harsh to you in public, you may excuse their behavior and tell your friends & family they are in a bad mood due to “stress from work.” You should confide in people whom you trust such as family, friends, or a therapist to hold you accountable for what is healthy in a relationship.
Standing your ground is hard as it can create tension and conflict that you never wanted. Just remember that when you are staying accountable and someone is giving you back-lash, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. If they do not respect what you have to say and choose to ignore your boundaries, they are engaging in manipulative tactics to test you to see how important these boundaries are to you.
6. Give Consequences For Negative Behavior
When your partner does something that makes you upset or angry, you must address it right away. Make sure your partner knows there are consequences for treating you in such a way after you have already explained how it makes you feel. If you do not show your partner there are consequences for such actions, you are essentially rewarding this behavior. This allows them to believe they have the right to do it over and over.
Instead of reacting from anger, let them know that what they did was unacceptable you will not tolerate it. Choosing not to speak up about something that is bothering you only leads to resentment.
Setting boundaries is an important part of life. As mentioned, it allows the other person to understand what you will not tolerate in your relationship. It is just as important to stay accountable and respect the boundaries that have been set. With these tips listed above, you will now be able to engage in a conversation about boundaries and share what needs to happen moving forward in order to have a healthy relationship.