How to Maintain Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship
Healthy relationships have boundaries. Without boundaries, any relationship can start to turn toxic. It’s important for both partners to be able to be comfortable with one another and feel like their values and limits are respected. Here is how you can maintain a healthy relationship with boundaries.
Communicate With Your Partner
You have probably heard it said before that communication is one of the keys to a healthy relationship. From romantic relationships, friendships and even to professional relationships, communication is the foundation of any type of relationship. Most people have been in the middle of a heated argument, only to find out after the dust clears that there was a breakdown of communication that led to the whole misunderstanding.
Likewise, people who bury their feelings or hide their opinions tend to find themselves in fights that could’ve been avoided if they had been honest from the beginning. Say that your partner does something that makes you uncomfortable but you choose not to say anything about it. You hold this negative energy inside and one day, it’ll build up and you’ll catch yourself exploding on your partner and he or she won’t understand why. After all, you never voiced your discomfort or upset before.
If you’re upset with your partner, it is okay to take time to think about your feelings. Sometimes, you’ll need to gather your thoughts so you can express them in a respectful manner. There are a lot of reasons to gather your feelings and thoughts. It is different, however, if you start to use that as a reason to avoid a conversation altogether.
Ask Your Partner’s Opinions and Feelings
Similarly to open communication, you need to take your partner’s feelings into consideration. Do not try to assume what your partner is thinking or feeling. Maybe you think that your boundaries are obvious but you never express them and so your partner never knows what they are. Likewise, you may not realize that you are overstepping his or her boundaries unless you can talk about it. You need to know what your partner is feeling and why he or she feels that way. If he or she is having difficulty with one of your boundaries, before you fight about it, listen to his or her feelings. In some cases, this may be a bad sign, but in other cases, it may just mean that he or she needs you to explain more thoroughly how you feel or vice versa.
Set Boundaries and Keep Them
Unhealthy personal boundaries involve taking responsibility for other people’s actions and emotions. If you set boundaries and then compromise every time that your partner asks you to, then you do not have boundaries at all. If you do not stand your ground and make firm boundaries that you will not compromise on, then you are going to wind up coming across as someone who has no boundaries and your partner may figure that he or she can overstep your boundaries whenever he or she wants to.
An example of a boundary would be that you don’t want your partner to control who you hang out with. Say that you have a friend that your partner doesn’t get along with and you plan to go out with him or her. You set the boundary that he or she cannot dictate who you are friends with and then demands that you do not go. If you opt not to go hang out with your friend or submit to any signs of jealousy, you are allowing your partner to overstep your boundary. In this case, it is not healthy for your partner to force you to stay home. Uphold your boundaries and likewise, when your partner has boundaries, respect them too.
In a healthy relationship, you should never feel like you can’t express yourself or your opinions. The two of you should have boundaries that both of you can respect. Relationships take work and compromise, but you should never have to take down your boundaries. In fact, setting healthy boundaries can prevent toxicity in a relationship.