5 Tips to Create Healthy Boundaries in Your Relationship

Setting boundaries is essential if you want to maintain healthy, long-term relationships with your romantic partners, relatives, friends, and even colleagues. But suppose you grew up in an environment where no one demonstrated how to establish mutually respectful boundaries. In that case, you may not know what it feels like to set and uphold boundaries. Perhaps you’re not used to advocating for your own needs or telling people that you can’t accept certain behaviors in your relationships.

Determining your boundaries and communicating your needs without apology takes practice. But with time, you can get comfortable stating your boundaries. Here’s how to explain your boundaries and respect the boundaries of other people in your life.

1. Timing and Delivery

Maybe you’re not happy with how your partner or a close friend has recently treated you. Perhaps you’re worried they are taking advantage of your time or generosity, or you feel like you’ve accepted behavior you shouldn’t have let slide for so long. To talk to the person in question about your boundaries, pick a time when you can chat in person. Make sure to stay calm when you talk. If you come across harshly, the person might react defensively. Having a polite conversation can make it easier to move forward.

2. Communicate Clearly

When you state your boundaries, you might be tempted to be vague out of fear of offending the other person. You may worry that you’re asking for too much or that you don’t really have the right to set this boundary. If you were always taught that your needs are secondary to anyone else’s, it could be difficult to simply say what’s on your mind. But instead of being vague and ambiguous, be clear. Tell your partner, friend, or relative exactly what you need out of your relationship. It’s tempting to hold yourself back from saying what’s really on your mind for fear of hurting the other person’s feelings. But in situations like this, honesty is truly the best policy.

3. Respect Your Partner’s Wishes

When it comes to setting boundaries in any relationship, remember that the other person has their own boundaries, too. If your partner talks to you about a specific boundary, respect them as you would want them to respect you. For instance, if your partner is uncomfortable with your household’s current spending and wants to cut back, consider their perspective and think about how you could save rather than immediately trying to justify all of your recent expenses.

4. Stay Consistent

You might wonder if you’ve pushed too far, and the first time someone tries to cross this boundary, the little voice in your head might tell you to be quiet and let it go. But boundaries don’t mean much if you don’t actually enforce them! Even if you worked up the courage to talk to someone about your boundaries, consistently upholding these boundaries can be challenging. When you feel yourself slipping, that’s the time to speak up.

5. Consider Counseling

What if you continuously struggle to set boundaries, and you can barely bring yourself to voice your own needs? Maybe you’re even having trouble identifying what your needs in relationships really are. In this case, you may want to work with a therapist who can help you figure out and communicate your boundaries. You can learn about setting boundaries in individual therapy sessions. But you may also want to attend sessions with your family or a romantic partner.

Are you struggling to set boundaries in your relationships? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session for couples therapy or individual counseling.