When it comes to romance, it is so important to set boundaries. Boundaries allow you to be your true self and maintain a healthy relationship. But sometimes, we find ourselves in a muddle. In the early stages of a relationship, boundaries might get blurred and we often feel as if we don’t know where we stand.
So, what are healthy boundaries in a relationship, why are they important, and how can we set them?
What are healthy boundaries?
Boundaries are positive limits that we put on our interpersonal relationships. They create mutual respect and understanding, and allow us to get space when we need it.
According to the relationship counselor Keir Brady, there are 5 types of boundaries that are important in a romantic relationship. These are:
- Physical boundaries: How often we allow our romantic partner in our personal space and in what ways.
- Emotional boundaries: How we connect with our partner emotionally and how much we open up to them.
- Sexual boundaries: What is okay for us sexually and what is not.
- Intellectual boundaries: How we share our ideas and beliefs with our romantic partner.
- Financial boundaries: If we share money and joint bank accounts with our romantic partner.
Why are boundaries important?
Boundaries are important as they make sure that you are stable in your relationship. You know what to expect and how to connect with your partner! Boundaries allow you to be your true self and have time alone, as well as with your partner.
Clearly communicated boundaries promote mutual respect and understanding so that we can become comfortable and secure in our relationship. Plus, boundaries are really important when it comes to self-esteem! A lack of boundaries allows us to be confused and anxious about who we are in the relationship and how much of us we should give our partner.
Healthy boundaries allow us to care for our partner and ourselves.
How to set boundaries for a healthy relationship
Now we know why boundaries are important and what they are, let’s look at how we can set these boundaries in order to form a healthy bond with our romantic partner!
Firstly, it is important for you to know yourself and what your boundaries actually are. It sometimes can be confusing, especially if you have low self-esteem! But, spend time thinking about you and your partner, and what makes you feel good and what makes you feel uncomfortable. Take time to work out what will make you feel your true self.
A really important part of setting healthy boundaries is communication. Without telling your partner how you feel, you are unable to set these boundaries. It is great to start discussing boundaries as soon as you can with a partner so you both know exactly where you stand.
Communication allows you to grow personally and as a couple. According to one study about the link between communication and marital satisfaction, open and honest communication leads to greater satisfaction in a romantic relationship. But how do you set about having these conversations?
Define clearly what your boundaries are, and use ‘I’ statements. For example, when it comes to physical boundaries, word your sentences like ‘I don’t enjoy holding hands in public’. Or, ‘I like when we cuddle while watching TV. Do you like it too?’.
It may feel a little awkward to have these conversations at first, but it will soon feel completely natural! It will allow you and your partner to get to know each other and flourish together.
Always be honest with your romantic partner. If you cannot be your true self, then the relationship just isn’t worth it. Let your partner know what you expect from them and ask them what they expect from you.
Never ever put up with things that cross your boundaries. If you feel uncomfortable with some of your partner’s behavior, be honest! Make your personal boundaries clear and simple, so your partner understands what you are needing from them.
When it comes to boundaries, it is necessary to understand when and where you must take responsibility. You will have boundaries, but so will your partner. Nobody is perfect and small things might happen in a relationship that cross boundaries. When this happens, you or your partner must take responsibility and learn from the situation.
In a similar way, you must also know about the consequences of crossing boundaries. If you have set out your boundaries with your romantic partner and they keep breaking them, you must speak up and let them know that they are hurting you. If something is a deal-breaker and your partner knows this, think very carefully about how you want the relationship to continue if they cross this line. Constant boundary breaking is toxic and harmful for your self-esteem.
Boundaries allow you to have fun!
This is kind of a serious topic, but it is very important! If you do not set and maintain boundaries, you will not be your true self and you will not gain the healthy relationship that you deserve.
Plus, boundaries allow you to have fun. Knowing your partner and what they want allows you to concentrate on all the good stuff a romantic relationship has to offer! Being your true self and allowing your partner to be too means you can enjoy your romance to the max.