Why Relationship Boundaries Matter So Much
What do you imagine when you ponder the ingredients of a healthy relationship? Your list may include love, respect, lust, communication, and more. But, how many qualities would you mention before you uttered the word “boundaries”?
If you’re like most people, boundaries might not even make the first draft of your list. But it should. Let’s take things further and declare that it may even belong in the top five. Relationship boundaries will almost certainly shift and evolve as time passes but they never diminish in importance.
6 Reasons Relationship Boundaries Matter
In a culture built on fairy tales, we may see boundaries as an obstacle. They’ll get in the way of spontaneous romance and dampen the whole “you complete me” vibe. In reality, boundaries are what helps relationships sustain through our differences and disagreements. Boundaries mark where one partner ends and the other begins.
Healthy boundaries teach partners to:
- Respect different opinions and viewpoints
- Ask permission
- Take each other’s emotions into account
- Stop making assumptions
- Accept each other’s unique needs and wants
- Make mutually beneficial compromises
This is not about “owing” each other or keeping score. That is manipulation. Setting boundaries, on the other hand, is how individuals find peace and fulfillment as part of a couple.
Some Common Relationship Boundaries
Each relationship is unique and requires its own approach. However, there are universal themes when it comes to setting boundaries. Here are just a few:
- Alone Time: Everyone needs solitude. Accept this reality and make it happen for both of you.
- Friends, Family, and Ex’s: Each partner needs their own social circle. Talk openly about what this means for you as a team.
- Disagreements and Arguments: Even MMA has rules. Don’t let your conflicts turn into a free-for-all. For example, set parameters on acceptable language and tone.
- Social Media: This can range from how much personal information you share to how much time each of you spends staring at screens.
- Sex Life: Sexual boundaries can be fluid but nonetheless, they are indispensable and non-negotiable. Violating them is a form of abuse.
How to Set Healthy Relationship Boundaries
1. Identify Your Own Needs
Boundaries are built on self-awareness. Take some time to dig deep and identify what you like and dislike, what brings you comfort or discomfort, where you’re willing to bend, and what your deal-breakers are.
2. Clearly and Directly Explain These Needs to Your Partner
Nothing good will come from vagueness or passive-aggressive communication. Use simple, clear language and practice patience if and when you need to clarify or re-state.
3. Practice Active Listening When Your Partner Speaks
This is an ideal scenario for demonstrating how seriously you take your partner’s needs and perspectives. Paying attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give to each other.
4. Use “I” Statements
Rather than say “you should” or “you must,” begin your sentence with “I.” This empowers you to own your emotions without putting your partner on the defensive.
When Boundaries are Chronically Unclear, Unenforced, or Disrespected
Unclear (or un-set) boundaries get more dangerous as time passes. Reversing this trend can be a daunting task. If you’ve lived as a couple with vague or disrespected boundaries, it can eventually feel confrontational to even mention them. Partners in such a situation often rely on couples counseling as an avenue toward change. Under the guidance of a trained professional, you explore unhealthy patterns and replace them with new approaches. Over time, each of you will learn how to take responsibility for your own actions and feelings. Equally as important, you will not feel compelled to take responsibility for the actions and feelings of your partner.
If you are ready to build healthier relationships and see yourself clearly, now is the time to seek support. Regular sessions with a trained professional or group counseling can help solidify healthy new perspectives and improve your connections with others. Please contact me for a consultation soon, I’m here to help.