When it comes to relationships we all get a high from the beginning. You know that initial first date, his hand brushes yours. He gets a little too close and you think he is going to kiss you, and for a moment you feel his breath tickling down the side of your neck, and then he kisses you. But what about when the honeymoon period goes away. You know, when the real relationship stuff begins. How do you set boundaries in your relationship? Sounds simple enough, just voice your thoughts, but is it really simple?
Look we all want different things out of our relationships, that is not the problem. The issue is actually being able to tell your new partner what it is that you want. Communication can be easy even for an introvert if you feel safe and comfortable.
what are boundaries?
The official meaning of a boundary is a limit or point that you are willing to go. The boundary can be a comfort level, an edge you’re wanting to get to but not willing to go over.
Honestly, boundaries can be and mean different things to different people. Some will feel boundaries are to protect themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. For example, you might say something like, “I am looking for a serious, monogamous relationship, I don’t want to play games.” Just in that simple sentences, you have laid out a boundary. That boundary makes it clear that if that person doesn’t want to give you want you are looking for then he or she can hit the road.
For others, boundaries are a way of setting a foundation for a relationship.
Another explanation of a boundary is a way to provide yourself some space. For instance, when I am reading please don’t come into the room and begin a conversation, or allow me some alone time when I am angry or upset.
Many people in relationships want and need to set boundaries regarding their privacy. “My things are mine, don’t go through my cell phone or other private things.”
Privacy is huge in a relationship, as is trust.
Read all about how to Reclaiming Your Power after Someone Hurts You if you struggle with relationships.
What are my boundaries?
This is a conversation you must have not only with yourself but also with your current partner. Just understand this is not a one-time conversation the boundary conversation is ongoing. Take my example above about the “serious relationship”. When my husband and I began dating we both made it very clear what we were looking for, before our first date.
But that was just the beginning.
As our relationship grew and developed we set new boundaries. Creating boundaries in our relationship allowed me to feel comfortable enough to explain to him when I felt he was encroaching upon my space.
As a couple, we love spending time together but sometimes I need my space. Our boundaries not only helped us come closer as a couple but also allowed a lot of feelings from being hurt.
Fun Fact! Not in the too distant past, relationships, marriages, would swallow a woman’s identity. Creating and setting up boundaries makes you and your partner as well feel as though you matter.
Why Should you set boundaries?
Setting boundaries is beneficial in many ways. For one it gives you peace of mind and there is nothing more priceless than that. Without it, things do not have a direction in your relationship. Here are some other reasons as to why you should set boundaries.
- Setting boundaries is a form of self-care and self-respect practice.
- Boundaries are a way to communicate what your needs in a relationship are
- To establish time and space for positive interactions within the relationship
- To create limits in a relationship in a healthy way
5 ways to set boundaries in your relationship
From the book; Boundaries Where You End And I Begin: How To Recognize And Set Healthy Boundaries by Anne Katherine. She discusses what defines a healthy relationship, especially now post-pandemic. The book shows us that we do not have to be a victim or allow someone to take advantage of our politeness or kindness.
When we create and follow our own boundaries we can live more full and complete lives in a healthy productive way.
- Identify why you need to set a boundary, and be clear, calm and respectful. Be firm but not harsh, you don’t want to belittle the person you are setting boundaries with.
- Do not get angry or apologize for the boundary you are establishing. (As a serial apologizer this is one I struggle with. If you throw a sorry in the mix, don’t worry it isn’t going to ruin the conversation.)
- Rememeber you are not in charge of the other person’s actions. They are responsible for themselves an thier reactions. If your boundary is upseting to them, let them communicate respectifully why, and know it is not your problem.
- There are people who are used to getting thier way, or manipulating or planly taking advatange of someone. Even if it doesn’t happen expect it, but remain firm in your convictions.
- Write down your boundaries, make sure they are reasonable and achievable. You don’t want to set the relationship up for failure.
Remember, at first you might feel guilty or selfish but that is normal. You have the right to self-care and take care of yourself. Listen to yourself, determine what you need from examining the inner workings of your soul. Be strong and assertive when setting your boundaries and understand that it takes time to learn to boundaries. As with everything this too is a process. Set your own time frame, not one that someone gives you.