A common topic that arises when discussing romantic relationships is boundaries. Not just physical, but emotional, social, and every aspect that makes us who we are. Knowing our limits, expectations, and clearly communicating those to our partners is not only important to our well-being, but to the foundations of our relationships. It helps us to not only value ourselves, but protect ourselves from potentially painful situations. If our partners know from the beginning our expectations in a relationship it allows for a smoother and more compatible relationship.
Often when I hear the word “boundaries” I immediately think of a wall being built to keep certain things out and certain things in. It may be helpful to visualize those barriers when talking about healthy relationship boundaries. It is a way to keep those healthy wants, needs and desires in and keep their unhealthy counterparts out. You may want respect, honesty, compatibility, and similar beliefs to be inside of your boundary. On the outside, you may want disrespect, abuse of any kind, and differences on bigger issues. Each list is unique to the person that makes it, so finding someone with a similar list can help you stay true to your own.
A boundary that you may set in your relationship could be that your partner is not in control of your every action. Your partner should respect that you have friends you want to spend time with. If they insist that you cancel your plans simply because they don’t want you to go, that is an example of an unhealthy relationship and broken boundary. If you have trust and mutual respect, they should trust your judgment and encourage friendships and vice versa.
Another boundary example could be that you would like your arguments to be talked about amongst each other, and not to others. My partner and I give space after a disagreement to decompress and then talk face-to-face about it after. If there is something I need help processing, I have a select few people that I will talk to. This is only with the permission of my partner as I do not want to disrespect their privacy. A common practice is to rant to friends, or online about how you are being treated in a relationship. This leads to a lack of respect for each other’s personal lives and could be infringing on your partner’s boundaries as well.
These are just a few examples, but there are many more to set and choose from. It is important to set your own boundaries and find a partner that not only respects your boundaries, but has a compatible list. This allows not only for the obvious compatibility, but also allows you to be on the same page and work as a team.
What kind of boundaries have you already established in your life? How can you incorporate healthy boundaries in current and future relationships?