What Are Healthy Boundaries in Relationships?

Healthy relationships include respect from both sides. The best way to communicate boundaries with one another is with compassion, understanding, and respect for each other’s expectations. Having respect each time we communicate will ultimately make any relationship healthier and stronger. 

If things go “south” and you live with your partner, your lives are naturally more intertwined.  Ending things not only forces that difficult conversation to make sure you’re both on the same page about ending the relationship but you also have to untangle your lives from each other. Which unfortunately means at least one of you probably needs to look for a new place to live, relocate and move to a different location. That’s why setting healthy boundaries from the beginning of the relationship is ideal.

What are the 3 steps to setting boundaries?

  1. Challenge Your Guilt.
  2. Identify Your Barriers and Fears.
  3. Make Rules for Yourself.

Understand that:

  • Boundaries have nothing to do with love
  • Boundaries are a peaceable thing
  • Boundaries are basic principles you identify for yourself

What are examples of healthy boundaries?

Boundaries have nothing to do with how much I love someone but more about whether I love myself enough to express my needs in a healthy way.

Many adult children are emotionally fused with their parents. Parents are the primary source of our adult identity. If you had an unmanageable childhood, chances are that yours is not very clear. When someone is emotionally fused with another person, they have difficulty drawing boundaries between themselves and others. As a result, they give too much and take too little. Understanding the need for boundaries is one of the keys to breaking free from your family of origin and developing a healthier relationship with them (and yourself).

Most people struggling with boundary issues tend to be those who experienced alcoholic or addictive behaviors in their family of origin. Therefore, it was not unusual for them to take on the addictive behavior of a parent or sibling, whether it was drugs, alcohol, compulsive working out at the gym, or overeating.

How do you know if you have difficulty with boundaries? Look at your family of origin. Did you have to take care of your parents, for instance?

Think about boundaries in your current relationships. Do you find yourself giving too much and demanding little in return? Do you feel guilty when you say no? Do others tell you that they don’t know where they stand with you because “you are all over the map?”

Key components to having healthy boundaries:

  • Know your values and live by them

You may have gotten away with being “pleasers” all of your life, but you must be true to yourself if you want a fulfilling relationship with others. Ask yourself, what is important in my life? What do I need to do to take care of myself? Set your limits. If you don’t tell others what you want or need, how do they know what to do for you? The only way someone will know is if you tell them! It does not mean that people will automatically give it, but at least the opportunity exists.

  • Know when enough is enough

When someone is emotionally fused with you, they will try to get their needs met by leaning on you. It may feel good for a moment, but it doesn’t work in the long run. You end up resenting them, and they become angry because of your “no.” Have compassion for yourself. Boundary issues arise when we have not taken care of ourselves or allowed ourselves to become emotionally suffocated. When you know that someone is trying to manipulate your feelings, tell them “No” and walk away. If it’s not good for you, then it doesn’t feel right!

  • Practice detachment

Detachment does not mean that you are dissociated from the situation or person but rather that you allow yourself to step back and examine the situation. When we become too emotionally entangled, it becomes difficult to be objective and make sound decisions.

If you struggle with setting boundaries, remember that you cannot control what others do – whether it is giving back or withdrawing from you. You can only control how you react. When we strengthen ourselves and practice the above steps, it becomes easier to let go of the fear that others will leave us when we speak up for ourselves. You can learn to trust that what is in your best interest will be in their best interest too! (Adapted from The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists)

What are examples of emotional boundaries?

When family members get together, sometimes those personal boundaries can be blurred. We may feel as though we need to overshare or allow others to disrespect us. Healthy boundaries in family relationships are important because it respects yourself and the people around you.

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