How to Establish Boundaries In Your Relationship
W h y Y o u N e e d to S e t B o u n d a r i e s I always like to begin my writing in sharing what inspired me. I started thinking about what it meant to love someone unconditionally. I started thinking about how I really don’t want to be a ride or die. My love does come with conditions. My conditions are my boundaries. A person without boundaries is a reflection of a person with low self-esteem and a lack of self-awareness. Setting boundaries is not only necessary but required for the function of a healthy relationship. If you are already in a relationship where you have not yet set boundaries- and you’re hesitant to do so because of the fear of your partners reaction, that is indicative that you may already be in an unhealthy relationship. It’s also possible that your boundaries have been compromised or have weakened over time- but it is important to strengthen them, and in this blog I’ll provide ways in which you can implement these boundaries. I always like to use this metaphorical allusion when trying to explain boundaries and subconscious human behavior. Imagine yourself in your car, and you have empty water bottles, papers everywhere, and all the crumbs from everything you ate last week. When someone gets into your car, and they’re eating McDonalds and they drop a fry, or even spill a little of their drink, they’re not going to really care, and they might not even tell you. Now, if your car was cleaner than clean- they might wait to eat their food until you get to the destination, or be very careful to not spill anything. This exemplifies the concept that, people will treat you based upon how YOU treat you. The boundary exists without verbal expression of how to treat your car, because they see how you treat it. S i g n s T h a t Y o u r B o u n d a r i e s A r e W e a k
You have a difficult time saying “no” because of fear, rejection, and/or confrontation.
You feel responsible for your partners happiness.
You allow others to make decisions for you, instead of expressing what it is that you really want.
You have excused behavior that has been abusive/uncomfortable for the sake of ‘peace’.
You compromise yourself and the things that are important to you, in exchange for ‘love’.
You’re known for ‘caring too much’, and ‘saving’ people.
You feel obligated be sexual for your partner, and not for yourself.
You either trust no one, or trust everyone.
When someone is saying something that makes you uncomfortable, whether it’s about you or somebody else, you don’t know how to respond.
W h y B o u n d a r i e s C a n S a v e Y o u r L i f e When you have self-assurance and you know who you are, setting boundaries comes naturally. Okay, I crossed-out that sentence because most-likely you are a 20-something like me, and we don’t completely know ourselves yet. I am still learning about who I am everyday- so how can I still set healthy boundaries without knowing exactly what they are for me? Trust your instinct. Setting boundaries creates respect. Setting boundaries doesn’t allow for abuse. Setting boundaries is your power. For me setting boundaries has helped me dodge bullets. Once I announce my boundary, and communicate why it is important to me, and why it need not be violated- I’ve experienced nothing but respect in return, and also an understanding. Boundaries have helped shaped my relationships, and in dating, they’ve made me more aware of what I will and will not accept.You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. You are only responsible for communicating your boundary in a respectful manner. If it upsets them, know it is their problem. Some people, especially those accustomed to controlling, abusing, or manipulating you, might test you. Plan on it, expect it, but remain firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. You cannot successfully establish a clear boundary if you send mixed messages by apologizing.” – Katherine, Anne. Where You and I Begin. M y O w n P e r s o n a l B o u n d a r i e s Touching/Personal Space– This is probably my biggest boundary, because I think I’m confronted with it more than anything else. I know I don’t need to explain why, but I’m going to anyway. When a person touches you without your permission it is a physical way of communicating that you have not considered if I want to be touched, and you also don’t care. If I am at the club, and you would like to speak to me, please speak to me instead of grabbing my waist. I have almost had to break the fingers of several men for touching me without my permission (okay, not really, but seriously). Every time that I’m in that setting, there’s always one person who thinks that coming behind me and dancing is okay. How hard is it to ask a woman her name without touching her, and how hard is it to ask if she would like to dance? And lastly, don’t touch my hair. Communication- I won’t accept poor communication skills. I won’t accept manipulation (and you can’t manipulate me into thinking you’re not manipulating me). Knowing how you will solve disagreements, and arguments is really important. When things start getting heated, I am the first one to say “listen I don’t want to say anything I don’t mean, I want to take some time to think, and then we can talk again, but for now, I’m disengaging”. By saying that, I’m respecting my boundaries, and also boundaries I might cross because my emotions are high. At the same time, know who you’re dealing with, some people want to yell, that’s how they behave when they’re angry. Tell them that you’d like to talk, but over dinner at a restaurant. I’ve always found that this creates a control of emotion, simply because of the setting. Happiness- I won’t be responsible for anyone’s happiness, and I won’t let anyone be responsible for mine. I think a common misconception is that you are supposed to complete your partner, and I don’t want to complete anyone. I would like for them to be whole when I meet them, and I think they’d appreciate the same from me in return. Space- This is also big for me. I really like my space, and I need my own space sometimes. One of the ways I practice self-care is through solitude, and I need that peace. Social Media- I’m really not into posting who I’m dating on social media, especially when it’s not exclusive, and/or too early. That’s a boundary for me. It’s not personal. It’s just that I like a little privacy. The push back that I usually get, is that they want to be ‘posted’ to feel secure in our relationship, and to me all that is saying is, “damn, we got work to do”. Privacy – I won’t accept anyone going through my phone and I won’t accept anyone going through my journal. I also vocalize when I am uncomfortable when I’m being asked personal questions. I used to have this idea that I had to answer questions that felt invasive to me for the sake of seeming ‘easy-going’. Now, I simply say “I’m uncomfortable answering that, or I would rather not talk about that, let’s change the subject”. Q u e s t i o n s t o A s k Y o u r s e l f (Let these be journal prompts, and refer back to them to check yourself)
Who am I ?
What drains me the most?
What people/things would I leave behind if there was no negative reaction?
What is my worst fear about saying no?
If I am allowing behavior that is not representative of my boundaries, what is this saying about me?
Does my relationship make me feel good about myself?
What’s working in my life, and what isn’t?
Behaviors that I will never again tolerate are …
Do I have enough courage to love myself even when it means that I may disappoint others?
What do I need to do to become comfortable setting boundaries ?