For a lot of people, the word “boundaries” leaves a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to romantic relationships.
After all, one would expect such relationships to have no limits, conditions, or rules because they are based on pure love and intimacy.
Doesn’t love erase all boundaries and differences and bring two people together until you can’t tell one from the other?
Well, take this as a wake-up call, if you will, but such ideas of love only exist in works of fiction.
In reality, romantic relationships are messy, and it takes a lot of work to nurture them and ensure that they keep going forward. And a big part of this is to set and maintain healthy boundaries.
Apparently, many people find it really hard to establish boundaries when it comes to their significant other.
They remain under the impression that they are supposed to go with the flow of their emotions.
However, they eventually realize that their unfettered emotions can become the cause of conflicts between them and their beloved.
Obviously, you should work with logic as much as you work with emotions.
So, let’s try to understand why exactly you need to set boundaries and how you can proceed to do so.
Why Is It Important To Set Boundaries?
Having and maintaining boundaries has a lot of benefits for your relationship.
In the beginning, it might seem a little awkward.
And you might even wonder how creating rules and conditions can possibly help you get closer to your partner and nurture your relationship.
But as they say, sometimes, the most unintuitive things lead to the best results.
So, let’s check out why it is important to set boundaries.
1) They Help Maintain A Sense of Identity
When the relationship is newish, and the love feels electric, you might feel like getting lost in your partner.
This is what love does to you.
It makes two people want to just merge with one another.
When you’re in this phase, you start associating your sense of identity with your partner and the relationship. And you don’t even realize that you’re doing this.
Eventually, when that initial phase wears off, this loss of independent sense of identity can start to weigh on you.
Suddenly, you start feeling as though you don’t have any individuality left.
For many people, this is the first thing that scares them about their relationship. They feel like they are losing themselves.
See, associating a part of your identity with your partner is fine.
In fact, that’s how it should be.
However, you very much need to have your own sense of individuality as well.
After all, you are your own person, and so is your partner! You each have your own sets of dreams, desires, abilities, and preferences that make you unique.
A relationship should celebrate this uniqueness instead of masking it.
That’s exactly what boundaries help you achieve.
They help you become intimate with each other but save you from being enmeshed with each other.
They create a dynamic where you can both be unique individuals and yet come together to form something beautiful.
2) They Help Maintain Trust And Respect
We all know that there are a few things that are fundamental to every romantic relationship.
Without these things, any relationship would crumble in no time at all.
Two of these are trust and respect.
Without them, there is no chance you can keep that bond alive.
This is where boundaries can be so useful.
They can actually help maintain trust and respect.
If you’re wondering how, let me explain.
The very idea of respecting your partner’s boundaries requires you to trust them.
Think about it.
- If your partner doesn’t like you using their laptop without their permission, you have to trust and respect their privacy by default.
- If your partner wants to party with their friends, you need to trust them and respect their choices.
The same applies to you.
- If you want to spend some alone time, your partner needs to trust and respect that you just need some me-time and that there is nothing wrong with the relationship.
- If you want to hang out with your friends, your partner needs to trust that you can take care of yourself and that they don’t need to be with you all the time.
3) They Help You Know And Understand The Limits
Do you know what is more important than the do’s in your relationship?
It’s the don’ts.
There are certain things that you just don’t do. There are certain things that you just don’t say.
What I’m trying to say is that there are lines that you don’t cross in a romantic relationship.
I can’t even begin to tell you how important this is. It could either make your relationship or break it.
But how do you know what those limits are?
How do you know what your partner considers a complete no-no? You guessed it… through clearly specified boundaries.
When you have set these boundaries, you know and understand the limits that must never be crossed. And you also understand why your partner has these limits in the first place.
For example, your partner may not want you to flirt with other people.
To you, it might seem like a harmless thing.
But to them, it might be a serious thing that they are simply not comfortable with.
On the other hand, you might not want your partner to talk about your sex life with their friends.
Again, for them, it might be a normal thing, but for you, it might be a serious breach of privacy.
So, having boundaries helps both of you know and understand the lines that you are not supposed to cross.
4) They Reduce Unpredictability And Bring Clarity
Do you want your relationship to be like a rollercoaster ride?
Of course, not!
You want it to be as stable as possible.
You want to have peace of mind and a sense of security.
Well, guess what?
Having boundaries ensures all of this.
You see, often people find relationships hard because they have to constantly think about what is right and what is wrong in their daily lives as a couple.
They feel like they need to constantly second-guess themselves and their decisions.
For many, it feels like walking on eggshells when it comes to interacting with their partners.
This, of course, happens when you don’t know what your partner likes or dislikes.
When you don’t have boundaries, the entire relationship is based on both of your emotional states, which we all know is a fickle thing.
However, having boundaries lays down clear rules and conditions.
You no longer have to wonder what your partner won’t appreciate. You no longer have to do the guesswork.
This brings a sense of predictability and clarity.
As you can imagine, couples who have boundaries start with a strong foundation on top of which they can build a much stronger relationship.
They don’t have to spend valuable time and energy trying to figure out what other couples figure out through trial and error.
5) They Help You Become Better Partners For Each Other
We all want to play our various roles responsibly and to the best of our ability.
This is especially true for romantic relationships.
You want to be the best partner for your beloved.
You want to enhance their happiness and grow your love stronger together.
I think every person who truly loves their partner wants to be this way.
However, you can’t do any of it if you are mentally and emotionally tired.
We all know how hectic life can be.
There are so many spheres of life we need to tend to in addition to our relationships. We have our careers, finances, and health, among other things.
All of this can be daunting, to say the least.
This is where having boundaries can be of help.
Let’s say you come home from work after a tiring day.
Now, if you have boundaries and your partner respects them, you can take a hot bath and go take a nap straight away. You won’t have to wonder whether your partner will get angry for not spending time with them. You won’t have to force talking with them and feel even more terrible.
Now, since you get your own alone time to recharge mentally and emotionally, you can come back refreshed and devote some quality time to your loved one.
You will completely be yourself and have the energy to do all the things you love doing together.
This makes you a better partner than the grumpy one who has no energy.
6) They Help You Ensure Self-Care
This is kind of related to the previous point, but it takes things even further.
Many people, when they get into a relationship, tend to forget all about themselves.
The relationship and their partner start taking priority in their lives.
Of course, you should prioritize your partner in some aspects, but that can’t be your only focus in life. There are so many other things you need to take care of.
One of these things is your own health and well-being. You need to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health.
And that is where self-care becomes important.
Devoting time to self-care practices helps improve the various aspects of your health and even makes you a better person overall. It also improves the quality of your life.
But when you are in a relationship, you can only devote ample time to self-care when there are boundaries.
After all, you need your own space and time to practice the various activities associated with self-care.
Imagine having no boundaries and feeling guilty every time you take some time for your own peace and serenity.
Imagine compromising your well-being to take care of your partner’s needs every single time.
Things like these can take on a much uglier form in the long term and can even end your relationship.
Signs That You Have Boundary Issues In Your Relationship
Now that you know why having boundaries is important, you must understand whether your relationship has boundary issues.
This will help you understand the type of boundaries you need to have and also how you can set them up.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most common and glaring signs of boundary issues.
- You constantly feel like you have to “save” your partner and fix all their problems.
- You feel like you are losing yourself in the process of building your relationship.
- You feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells while interacting or conversing with your partner.
- You feel like you are always sucked into pointless arguments and fights.
- You feel like things are either too amazing or too horrible with your partner, and there is no in-between.
- You seem to apologize for things that are simply not your fault.
- You miss doing things you enjoy and feel guilty if and when you finally do them.
- You find decision-making to be quite difficult, especially when it comes to decisions that affect both of you.
- You constantly feel tired, annoyed, grumpy, and even aggressive at times.
- You feel like you are contributing to the relationship a lot more than your partner.
Now, having one or two of these signs in your relationship might not mean that you have boundary issues.
However, having a lot of these signs should tell you that you need to start taking boundaries more seriously.
It might be time to sit your partner down and finally “have the talk.”
Types of Boundaries You Need To Have
Often, it is seen that trying to set up boundaries in relationships leaves people confused.
They can think of a handful of things they want to address, but they can’t seem to make sense of what else they could be doing.
This leaves room for trial and error.
It means that couples set up additional boundaries only after a conflict arises due to a particular situation.
Of course, this could be healthy if managed properly.
But why should you let things get to that point in the first place?
If you have an in-depth understanding of the various types of boundaries, you basically have a template to follow from day one!
So, with that viewpoint, let’s take a deeper dive into the types of boundaries.
1) Personal Boundaries
Personal boundaries are those that relate to you as an individual.
As stated above, a relationship should be such that it celebrates both your individualities instead of masking things up.
So, in this case, I am talking about all the things that are personal in nature.
This could include your personal choices, likes, and dislikes, privacy, personal space, goals, dreams, and so on.
Every person deserves to have their individual choices and preferences respected.
This is especially the case in romantic relationships.
You can’t be in a relationship with someone who makes fun of your choices, hobbies, values, or anything else that makes you, you.
Such a relationship won’t have the necessary element of respect, and things are bound to crumble.
Also, having personal boundaries and taking responsibility for your personal life is an essential way to build self-esteem.
When you have faith in yourself and respect yourself as a person, it becomes easier to respect your partner and other people in your life.
This helps you build much stronger relationships.
Of course, there are some areas of life where it can get tricky to establish personal boundaries.
For example, boundaries relating to personal space can be hard to set up when you are married and live in the same house.
So, you might need to do some figuring out to see what works for you and your particular relationship dynamics.
This is quite important to do because having boundaries relating to personal space and privacy can reduce the tendency to be clingy and needy.
As such, it saves your relationship from turning into a toxic thing.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of personal boundaries to get a better understanding of what’s involved:
- Giving space to each other when needed.
- Respecting each other’s values, principles, morals, etc.
- Respecting each other’s dreams, desires, and goals.
- Freedom to go out with friends and spend time apart.
- Not using each other’s personal devices like phones and laptops without permission.
- Giving space and time to each other so that both of you can enjoy personal hobbies and interests and engage in self-care activities.
- Deciding how much you want to mingle your digital presence (examples: becoming social media friends, friending each other’s friends, mixing calendar apps, sharing account passwords, etc.)
- Not sharing each other’s private information with other people.
- Not asking too many questions about the conversation that you had with someone else.
2) Emotional Boundaries
Emotional boundaries are those that relate to your feelings and emotions.
And if there is one thing I understand about us humans, it is that we are highly emotional beings.
A lot of our decisions and actions are influenced by our emotions.
So, it’s important for a relationship, that is based on feelings, to have emotional boundaries (even though it might sound unintuitive).
When you have such boundaries, you don’t expect the other person to feel the same way about certain things.
For example, if you love romantic movies, you won’t expect your partner to love them as well. If your partner loves cooking, they won’t automatically expect you to love it as well.
Also, emotional boundaries can help both of you respect and understand each other’s emotional needs.
For example, if your partner has a need to have a strong connection with their family or community, you will understand the reason behind it and respect it. This makes things so much easier.
Emotional boundaries also free you from feeling responsible for your partner’s mood all the time. You no longer have to keep wondering whether you did something wrong to upset them or sacrifice your needs to please them.
There is an understanding that both of you should be responsible for how you feel.
Of course, you can provide emotional support and show empathy when needed, but you won’t be responsible for their feelings all the time.
So, you can rely on each other without being dependent.
Here are some good examples of emotional boundaries:
- Both of you taking responsibility for your emotional states, feelings, and responses and not blaming each other for it.
- Respecting each other’s limits of emotional tolerances (for example, your partner might not tolerate being shouted at, and you might not tolerate being taunted.)
- Not holding grudges against each other after a conflict or argument and allowing a cooling-off period before discussing the matter further.
- Not trying to guilt-trip or emotionally blackmail your partner. Also, not giving the silent treatment after a fight.
- Respecting each other’s emotions when you don’t feel the same about a topic or situation.
- Having no fear or anxiety of each other’s reactions to everyday small things.
3) Intellectual Boundaries
Of course, the logical mind is another great influencer of our thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and views.
In the modern world, where information travels as fast as the speed of light, we are constantly updated with the latest happenings, trends, and so on.
Also, things like social media can influence our thinking in certain ways.
Naturally, we all differ from each other based on how we think about things.
In general, we need to respect this intellectual difference.
But, naturally, it becomes even more important when it comes to your romantic partner.
Therefore, intellectual boundaries are a must.
This means understanding that both you and your partner will have differing views on most things and being okay with it.
Again, the matter of individuality comes up here.
Just because you are in a relationship doesn’t mean that you need to have the exact same thoughts and opinions.
Intellectual boundaries also prevent you from feeling intellectually superior to your partner.
This is because you no longer have a tendency to undermine their views and beliefs.
Instead, you try to understand them and respect them for being unique.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of intellectual boundaries to understand them better:
- Having debates and discussions in a respectful manner.
- Approaching differing opinions with an open mind and listening to understand (instead of listening to merely reply).
- Not rejecting your partner’s views outright.
- Not wanting to prove your partner wrong.
- Not taking intellectual differences personally.
- Being okay with having differing thoughts, perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and views on most matters. Also, recognizing that great ideas are born by marrying contrasting ideas.
- Not trying to manipulate each other to change each other’s views or opinions.
4) Material And Financial Boundaries
It is often said that money can ruin even the best of friendships.
You might have experienced or at least seen the same in your life.
We all take our finances seriously.
After all, our money is hard-earned, and we want to protect it at all costs.
So, there is a need to balance your finances with your relationships so that neither can affect the other negatively.
This is where financial boundaries come in.
There has to be a clear plan on how you are going to manage your finances.
- Will it be separately, or do you want to merge your finances?
- Will you both contribute equally, or will one person take complete charge?
These are important questions and need to be discussed early on in a relationship.
The more you put it off, the more it can create misunderstandings and conflicts.
There also needs to be boundaries regarding how you are going to spend your money, how much you’re going to save, where you’re going to invest, and so on.
In terms of material possessions, both of you need to be clear about what you’ll share and what you won’t.
For example, if both of you have your own cars, you must decide whether you can share your cars or drive your own personal vehicles.
Setting up rules for your finances may seem very awkward.
On the one hand, your love for each other might make you think, “what is mine is yours.” On the other hand, we all know that the future is uncertain, and not having financial boundaries may lead to all sorts of ugly situations.
For example, in the case of a divorce, not having prenuptial agreements can lead to fierce fights over finances, properties, and other possessions.
Some examples of financial boundaries are:
- Letting your partner know if you have spent more than the agreed-upon expenditure limit.
- Respecting each other’s possessions and asking for permission if you want to use them.
- Clear rules regarding savings and investments.
- Handling each other’s valuables with respect and utmost care.
5) Time Boundaries
Time is one of the most important elements in a romantic relationship.
After all, one of the most common complaints that people have about their partners is that they don’t spend enough time with each other.
See, it is natural to want to spend as much time as possible with your partner.
Especially if you love them dearly.
However, we all know that time is a limited resource.
Just like money, we have a limited amount of time and too many places where we need to spend it.
So, it is necessary to create time boundaries in a relationship so that misunderstandings and conflicts do not arise.
Let’s take a look at some of the examples of time boundaries to understand them better:
- Not expecting each other to be “available” 24 X 7. Both of you need to understand that that is simply not possible.
- Not expecting your partner to reply to your messages instantly. This needs you to understand that they might be busy doing something important or they might be away from their phone.
- Respecting each other’s time and asking when they’ll be free to spend some time together.
- Planning out dates, vacations, weekend trips, etc., in advance, considering both your calendars.
- Not making spontaneous plans without consulting with your partner in cases where it might disturb their schedule.
- Not inviting friends or guests without communicating with your partner first.
- Respecting each other’s “me time” and giving sufficient space so that you can be with yourself.
- Not spending so much time together that you feel smothered.
6) Sexual Boundaries
Sex is one of the most important aspects of any romantic relationship.
It helps you understand each other on a human level and also plays a role in enhancing your intimacy.
This is why, for many people, sexual compatibility is very important.
Given the importance of this, there need to be sexual boundaries in your relationship.
And to do so, there needs to be a lot of healthy communication.
You need to act like mature adults and talk it out respectfully.
After all, it can help you establish a stronger foundation for your future.
Also, another important point to note is that men and women differ biologically and mentally.
As such, their expectations of sex and physical intimacy vary greatly.
So, in a relationship between a man and a woman, there needs to be an even greater understanding of and respect for the differences.
It is also important that there is balance and harmony between the two.
So, what do sexual boundaries look like? Well, let’s take a look.
- The first and foremost is consent. Without it, there is no sex or intimacy.
- There should be no shaming of each other’s preferences, even if they might sound weird to you. Remember, you can always say no to a particular preference if you are not comfortable with it. You shouldn’t resort to making fun of the other person.
- You shouldn’t discuss your private matters and sexual experiences with anyone else. Doing so is only okay when you are consulting a counselor or a medical professional.
- There needs to be mutual fulfillment. Selfishness doesn’t have a place in a relationship, especially when it comes to sex.
- There should be open and continuous communication regarding desires, likes, dislikes, do’s, and don’ts.
7) Boundaries About Expectations
It is normal to have expectations from your partner.
When you get into a relationship, you expect them to love you, respect you, and be there for you when you need it.
Also, different people can have different overall expectations from their partners. Add to this the little things that we wish our partners did in our everyday lives, and the list of expectations becomes even longer.
Now, the thing is, most people expect their partners to automatically know and fulfill their expectations.
While this might be possible sometimes, you must remember that your partner isn’t a mind reader. And neither are you!
So, being upset that your partner doesn’t fulfill your expectations when you have not communicated the same is totally uncalled for.
This is where boundaries about expectations come in. It clearly specifies the big and small wishes that both of you have. It also lays down the rules for future communication.
This frees you from trying to guess what your partner wants at any given moment. It also saves the relationship from pointless arguments and fights.
To understand these boundaries better, let’s take a look at some examples.
- Openly sharing what you expect each other to do. This could be little things like cuddling while watching tv at night, throwing out the trash, helping kids with their homework, paying attention while you’re talking, and so on. It could also be subtler expectations like honesty, respect, mutual understanding, compromise, trust, commitment, affection, empathy, sexual connection, kindness, etc.
- You should also openly talk about which of your partner’s expectations you might not be able to meet. For example, if your partner expects you to chat at least once during the day, it might not be possible for you if you are always busy at work. This will help both of you manage your expectations.
- Not being upset when your partner doesn’t meet your expectations due to a genuine reason.
8) Boundaries About Past Relationships
Everyone has a past.
Most of us go through many partners in our lives as we look for “the one.” Naturally, you and your partner will have a lot of baggage from the past.
Sometimes, in romantic relationships, this baggage can become a cause of conflict if the past affects the present in any way.
I think this is understandable.
After all, you would want you and your partner to have a completely new beginning, and you wouldn’t want past patterns to repeat themselves.
This is why it is of utmost importance to have boundaries about past relationships.
This can set the record straight about so many things that could potentially damage your relationship in the future. It also clearly lays down the do’s and don’ts when it comes to your previous partners.
Of course, a lot of understanding and communication is needed when you are discussing this type of boundary.
And you certainly don’t want to fight while establishing the boundaries, as that will defeat the whole purpose!
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some examples of boundaries related to the past.
- Deciding whether it is okay to be in contact with your ex. If your partner wishes to be in contact with them, you need to trust them and be okay with it.
- Deciding whether exes are allowed to visit or not.
- Deciding if or how much you want to talk about your individual pasts. And not forcing each other to reveal everything about their past relationships. There needs to be an understanding that it might bring out unresolved trauma and painful memories.
- Not allowing your exes to interfere in your current relationship.
9) Boundaries Regarding Each Other’s Families
There are some topics in a relationship that can be very difficult to talk about with your partner.
After all, they can hurt their sentiment badly.
But, even then, you feel like you have to talk about these topics because they can negatively influence you or your relationship.
One of these topics has to do with families.
Both of you have your own families, which may include parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, and so on.
And you might have different types of relationships and bonding with different members of your immediate and extended families.
Now, when you marry your partner, you are not only marrying them. It is essentially a coming together of two families.
Obviously, they can have a certain impact on your relationship if you allow it.
So, both of you need to learn and understand the types of bonds your partner shares with different family members.
And you also need to respect and honor the emotions and feelings your partner has with their families.
To make matters easier for both of you, it is better to have boundaries regarding this aspect as well. So, let’s take a look at some examples to understand this better.
- Deciding how much your families can visit you or how much you can visit them. For example, will it be just on the holidays? Will it be on special occasions and events? Can it be any time they like? Of course, the strength of the bond with a particular family member will greatly matter in this case.
- Deciding how much you will let your families affect your relationship. For example, if your cousin gives you a piece of advice about your relationship, it is better to mention this to your partner and what you think about it. You shouldn’t just follow your cousin’s advice without talking to your partner and letting that impact your relationship.
- Both of you should communicate whether one or more of your in-laws make you feel uncomfortable. If possible, you can talk about potential solutions.
- You should also understand and respect the fact that your partner might not share the same bond with your side of the family as you do.
10) Boundaries Regarding Additions
Another natural discussion that every couple has to eventually have is about additions to the relationship.
This, of course, means talking about children or pets.
Now, since you and your partner can have different goals and visions for the future, it is vital that you respect each other’s wishes and decide upon additions accordingly.
After all, you both need to agree to make any additions to the relationship.
Let’s see what this entails as far as boundaries go.
- Talking about whether you want to have children, how many, and when. It is not always necessary to know everything in advance. You can also go with the flow and do what feels best for your relationship at a particular point in time.
- If you don’t want to have children, you could discuss the option of adoption. Again, a lot of things need to be talked about before choosing this option.
- If you neither want to have children nor want to adopt, this should be communicated clearly as well. Don’t leave your partner hanging.
- When it comes to pets, you need to talk about which pet you should adopt and when. Also, you need to divide the chores related to taking care of the pet. You should also respect and consider whether your partner is allergic to a particular animal.
11) Boundaries Regarding Decision-Making
We make tons of decisions every single day.
While some might be easy, others might be more difficult to decide upon. Now, when you are in a relationship, sometimes, even the smallest of decisions can cause tension.
For example, we have all heard couples arguing about where to eat for lunch.
So, I think there should be boundaries regarding decision-making so that you don’t pull out each other’s hair every single day for the smallest of things.
What do these boundaries look like? Let’s take a look.
- Not expecting either one of you to be in charge of all the decision-making. This is a huge burden, and it shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of only one person. Also, both of you have your own likes and dislikes, and you both deserve to have your desires fulfilled. So, it doesn’t make sense to let one person decide everything.
- You should consult with each other before making decisions that impact both of your lives.
- For the minor decisions that usually cause conflict (like where to eat), you can come up with a system where each of you gets to decide alternatively. For example, if you made the decision last time, your partner should get to decide today.
How To Set Healthy Boundaries In A Relationship
Okay, now that we have talked about the various types of boundaries that are necessary for a relationship, let’s now talk about how to actually set them up.
1) Know Your Boundaries
When you are single, you might not necessarily think about what your boundaries are or should be.
After all, since you live by yourself, you don’t have to take into account the dynamics of a whole other person.
However, this becomes important when you start living with a romantic partner. Now, you share an equal partnership, and the dynamics of your life change completely.
So, the first thing you need to do is figure out what your boundaries are.
If you don’t even know it yourself, how will you communicate it to your partner?
So, take a pen and paper and introspect a little.
- What are some of the most important things in your life that you wouldn’t want anyone to intrude upon?
- What things would you like to maintain separately from your partner?
- What are the things you are willing to compromise on?
The answers to these questions will get you started in learning about your own boundaries.
From there on, the process will get easier as you begin to observe more and more things that you would like to include in your list.
The various types of boundaries that I talked about above could also serve as your template.
2) Communicate Your Boundaries Clearly
Once you and your partner have clarity about your boundaries, you could choose a time and place to talk about them in detail.
Since this could take some time and a lot of discussions, you may need many such meetings to go over all your boundaries.
Just make sure that both of you can remain calm, respectful, and kind to each other.
Remember that talking about your boundaries is a very important part of your relationship which could ensure that things proceed much smoother than before.
As such, you should support and encourage each other to speak your minds openly. You should also be as clear and specific as possible.
Don’t beat around the bush.
Don’t let anything be ambiguous and up for interpretation.
Be direct in your approach.
Also, don’t assume that merely communicating the boundaries will complete the job. There are so many minute details that might need to be repeated over and over again before you and your partner can remember all of them.
Also, the whole concept of setting up boundaries might be very new to them.
So, communicate as much as you can and be patient with each other.
Remember, you are in it for the long term!
3) Communicate Why Boundaries Are Important
If your partner doesn’t already know the importance of boundaries in a relationship, you might need to educate them about it.
Tell them all the benefits of establishing boundaries that we talked about at the beginning of this article.
If you can think of more reasons, which apply more to your particular relationship, make sure to communicate those too.
If your partner asks why a particular boundary is important, explain to them patiently.
For example, if they ask why you don’t want them to use your personal devices, talk to them about the value and importance of privacy. Ask them to trust you and respect your choices.
At the end of the day, it is you who knows how to get your point across to your partner.
So, you need to make them see that having boundaries will only bring you two closer and help your relationship grow stronger. If they have apprehensions about it, make sure to clear them off.
Also, while you’re at it, you should lay down the consequences of violating different boundaries.
For serious boundaries, there could be stricter consequences, and for smaller boundaries, a slap on the wrist (metaphorically speaking) should be fine haha.
4) Allow For Small Infractions
So, now that your boundaries have been communicated, now comes the hard part – applying them in your relationship.
This is where most people fail.
Look, boundaries are not like laws.
Sure, they are agreed upon by both you and your partner, but it takes time to take them all in.
As such, you or your partner might break each other’s boundaries from time to time without actually intending to.
Now, when this happens, how you react to it will be very important.
Obviously, you love each other. So, it is only obvious that you should treat any violations with kindness and love.
Sure, you can follow through with the consequences for major and repeated violations (more about this later), but you can totally ignore minor infractions.
For example, if you go to your room to spend some time alone, your partner might join you.
This could be an honest mistake if they don’t understand that you need your me-time at that moment. And so, you can let it go.
5) Stick To Your Boundaries
Having said the above, you should still stick to your boundaries.
Let’s talk about the same example that we just took in the previous point.
If your partner joins you in the bedroom even though you want some alone time, you could let that go once or twice.
But you shouldn’t erase that boundary altogether just because your partner can’t let you be in solitude.
If you don’t stick to your boundaries, your partner might think it is okay to cross them.
This can then lead to unnecessary arguments in the future.
So, stick to your guns and communicate how you feel.
In this case, you can tell them, “Look, I love spending time with you, and I am looking forward to that thing we have planned later today. But right now, I need some time to rest and recharge. I hope you don’t mind. Why don’t you take this time to do something you love?”
6) Follow Through With Consequences
There might be times when your partner crosses a serious boundary.
And they might do so even though they know that it is one of your boundaries.
In cases like these, you have to follow through with the consequences that you might have discussed before.
For example, if your partner stays out late with their friends without even messaging you, you can tell them that they can expect to spend a lot more time with your uncle, whom they find weird.
If your partner goes through your phone without your permission, you can tell them that they will have to give their phone to you for a certain amount of time.
As you can see, a consequence doesn’t always have to be serious.
It can be creative and clever enough so that your partner doesn’t want to violate boundaries in the first place.
At the end of the day, the point of the consequences is to remind your partner of the boundary and communicate to them that you will not let things slide.
This acts as a warning to not repeat the same mistake.
7) Respect Your Partner’s Boundaries
Do onto others as you would have them do unto you.
You might have heard this verse before. In my opinion, it is the best rule that you can follow in any relationship.
When it comes to your romantic partner, you should respect all of their boundaries to the best of your ability.
And you should do so respectfully and with a smile on your face. Also, when you are confused about whether you can do something or not, you could simply ask them what they would prefer.
The point of all of this is two folds.
First, you agreed to follow each other’s boundaries, and you are merely acting accordingly. Secondly, it tells your partner that you are committed to following the boundaries and that they should do the same.
Eventually, your partner will start respecting your commitment and get in life with your boundaries too.
8) Set Boundaries Early In The Relationship
A romantic relationship is a journey.
A journey where two people slowly come closer to each other and then decide to be at each other’s side for the rest of their lives.
To ensure that this journey is a beautiful one right from the start, you should set boundaries quite early on in the relationship.
That will help set up a strong foundation on top of which, you can build a solid partnership.
Also, when things are still new, it is easier to say no to things you’re not comfortable with. Later on, it might feel harder and more awkward as you get more and more concerned about each other’s feelings.
Of course, before you start setting up boundaries, you should get to know each other well.
You should also have some idea whether your partner is potentially “the one.”
There is no use creating boundaries with someone who is not going to be in your life for long.
9) Bonus: Don’t Have Too Many Boundaries
Simplicity should be your default rule in life.
No matter what or whom you’re dealing with, you should try to make things as simple as possible.
When it comes to boundaries, this rule can be of immense importance.
That’s because the more boundaries (and consequences) you create, the more “rule-based” relationship you will have. And that is not what a “romantic” and intimate relationship is supposed to be.
In fact, having too many rules can reduce your mental and emotional intimacy.
At the end of the day, boundaries should make your and your partner’s lives easier.
And if they end up doing the opposite, well, what’s the point of having them?
So, plan your boundaries carefully and talk it out with each other. You can always revisit your lists of boundaries and make them simpler over time.
As with everything else, try it out and see what works best for your relationship.
Why Boundaries Don’t Often Work
Okay, so you might be motivated right now to step away from the article and start creating your boundaries.
However, before you do that, let’s take a look at one last topic. This will help you craft even better boundaries that will actually work in your relationship.
Often, it is seen that after creating boundaries, people are not able to follow up on them.
They seem to work for a few days, and then things go back to square one.
Obviously, this shouldn’t happen.
The very reason you create boundaries is to make sure your relationship keeps running smoothly, and that the love between you and your partner keeps growing stronger.
But if you don’t make your boundaries work, that won’t happen.
So, you need to know why boundaries don’t often work so that you can fix those issues or prevent them from occurring.
1) When boundaries are too strong and rigid, it creates panicky situations and you eventually start feeling restrictive and stuck.
2) If you stop communicating your boundaries repeatedly, it becomes easy for your partner to either forget about them or not care at all.
3) If you are not committed to following your boundaries yourself, you can’t expect your partner to follow them too. You have to respect your needs and values and stand by them firmly.
4) If you feel scared or guilty about hurting your partner’s emotions and feelings, you might give in under the pressure.
5) If you don’t follow through with the consequences when your boundaries are violated, your partner won’t respect the boundaries. Also, you need to be consistent with the consequences.
6) If you have consequences that are too extreme, it will leave a bad taste in your partner’s mouth. It might also reduce intimacy quickly. Example: “If you stay out with your friends later than 12, you will have to sleep on the couch for a month.”
7) If you don’t respect your partner’s boundaries, they will obviously not respect yours. In many cases, partners expect the other person to start living according to the rules before they start doing the same. If you have such a partner too, you might have to lead by example.
I hope this huge guide gave a you a few tips to help you set healthy boundaries to help your relationship grow on solid ground 🙂
Feel free to let us know how it helped you 🙂