Healthy boundaries in your relationship are the limits you set on what is and is not acceptable behavior from your partner. They pave the way to mutual respect, understanding, support, and caring – essential elements for strong and enduring love. On the other hand, weak or nonexistent boundaries open you up to exploitation, abuse, hurt, and a damaged self-esteem.
Without boundaries, an abusive and opportunistic partner will overrule your desires and needs, silence your opinions, thoughts and feelings, and take away your confidence and inner strength. You are emotionally battered through constant criticism, insults and sarcasm, or physically and sexually abused. Eventually, you are drained of morale and energy, leading to depression, stress, anxiety, and passive anger.
Boundaries are not for one person only. You and your partner should discuss them and respect each other’s decisions. Set them with your partner to create and sustain a happy and harmonious relationship.
Healthy Boundaries in a Realtionship
Define trigger words. While it’s a basic rule never to use abusive and hurtful language, it’s still worth discussing what each other’s trigger words are. These are words that conjure up certain negative experiences and which, if spoken, makes you upset and provokes you to fight back.
How you discuss things and issues wherein you have differences of opinions will have an impact on your relationship. Listen with an open mind and never force your opinion on your partner. Agree to respect each other’s points of view. Talk in an even and calm voice. Start with “I” instead of “you.” Don’t tell the other person that he or she is wrong. Don’t use words like “never,” and “always.” Healthy boundaries should exist in your communication.
How you argue
Boundaries are very important in arguments, and heeding them are often forgotten. Here are the basic elements: Never talk when the other person is talking. Wait for your turn. Listen actively to what is being said. In the heat of a fight, the parties involved fail to listen because they are often busy preparing a reply or retort that will make them win. If you want to walk away from a fight to cool dow, and talk only when you have calmed down, your partner should respect your need to do so.
Related reading: How to be Assertive without Being Rude
Partners in a relationship should agree on the state of bank accounts and other financial issues. What you share or keep separate are important healthy boundaries. Otherwise, you may feel your privacy is being infringed upon if you have joint accounts. Sharing of passwords or ATM pin for access to finances must be mutually agreed on.
Be clear with your partner about what you want posted or kept from social media on matters regarding your relationship. And similar to bank accounts, a discussion on having joint or separate social media accounts, and sharing of passwords of social sites and emails is necessary. If you’re a person who needs your privacy, you shouldn’t be coerced into a violation of your right. If you keep a diary or journal, emphasize to your partner that it’s a private matter and shouldn’t be read by anybody else, including him or her.
Emotional boundaries encompass many issues. Be clear about the limits you set. You are not responsible for your partner’s problems or negative circumstances. In healthy emotional boundaries, you don’t assume or accept blame for the failures of your partner. With boundaries, your partner should not hinder you from pursuing your career goals, like making you feel guilty on the few occasions you have to work late to finish a report.
Some people are comfortable being with their partner or in the company of others all the time. If you’re the type who needs her space or “alone time,” let your partner know about it and make them understand that it’s nothing personal. “Alone time” can also mean having time out with your own friends or close kin without your partner present. Healthy relationships include spending time with friends, both mutual and separate, and setting the rules on this matter is important to avoid strains in the relationship.
Related reading: Are You Giving Too Much of Yourself in Your Relationships?
Boundaries, paradoxically, make the bond in your relationship stronger because you have clear expectations of your behaviors and the limits you have agreed upon. Awareness of boundaries reduces uncertainties, anxiety, misunderstandings, and stress, leading to sensitivity and kindness towards each other.