How to Set and Respect Boundaries With Your Partner
Have you ever felt unheard, unseen or disrespected in your relationship? Do you ever feel embarrassed or even guilty for being upset or angry with your partner? It’s possible that you lack healthy boundaries, which are the most valuable tool anyone can have in their relationship. Boundaries help you not only love yourself better, but teach your partner the best way to love you. When couples respect and support each others’ boundaries, there is room for all emotions, including anger. And even anger can be expressed in healthy and helpful ways. When good boundaries are present in a relationship both individuals are able to love and communicate and bond in more meaningful, authentic ways.
What Are Good Boundaries in a Relationship?
Everyone’s boundaries are different, but they always reflect your deepest values and needs. Rather than being based on fleeting wants, a boundary protects us, respects us and helps us feel safe and secure in a relationship. With healthy, clearly defined boundaries, partners are free to be themselves and build good self-esteem both within and outside of the relationship.
Boundaries in your relationship might address concepts like sex, personal space, privacy and communication. You have a right to let your partner know what you are and are not comfortable with, and your boundaries are allowed to change as you get to know someone better or improve your mental health.
Some people need to integrate more strict boundaries early in a relationship to accommodate their trauma or mental health problems. Rather than seeking validation from a partner, boundaries help you take ownership of your identity and experiences. They allow you to know when enough is enough, be more assertive and express yourself better.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship
It’s best to work on boundaries alone so you are able to get a clear idea of exactly what you need from your relationship. If you aren’t sure where to begin, it can be helpful to think about the times you’ve gotten upset or frustrated with your partner. What did they say or do that hurt you? How did you react? Below are some examples of boundaries you might want to enforce:
- I will say no when I don’t want to do something or am uncomfortable.
- I will ask for alone time when I need it.
- I will speak openly about how I feel with my partner, even when it makes me nervous.
- I will ask my partner how they feel instead of guessing what’s on their mind.
How to Communicate Boundaries to Your Partner
Honesty is always the best policy, and you should be upfront about your boundaries with a partner, especially if you feel that you haven’t been good at enforcing them in the past. This conversation might make you feel anxious, and that’s okay. However, it still remains an important aspect of your relationship that needs to be addressed. If your partner is right for you, they will be eager to hear how you feel and want to make sure you always feel comfortable and respected by them.
You may start the conversation by saying something like, “I’ve been working on myself lately, and I’ve come up with some boundaries I’d like to share with you. I’d also love to hear yours so we can communicate and respect each other better.”
Remember that you are not asking your partner for permission to have boundaries. You do not need their approval. Instead, boundaries are a way for you to maintain your identity within a relationship.
If you struggle with boundaries or feel like you need help enforcing them in your relationship, we can help. Contact Foundations Family Counseling today to arrange your first appointment with one of our therapists.