Worried that setting personal boundaries might harm your relationship?

Maybe you think establishing boundaries might destroy intimacy, aggravate tensions, and even get you ghosted. Or maybe you think setting boundaries isn't necessary.

A man shaking his head saying Boundaries help set expectations and limits around how you want to be treated.

Having boundaries is a sign of a healthy relationship.

They allow you to feel safe, respected, and fulfilled.

Types Of Boundaries

Consider these 5 types of boundaries when creating boundaries with your partner.

  • A young woman thinking with a pencil in hand a a pad on her desk.Mental boundary: protects your freedom to have your own thoughts, beliefs, values, and opinions.

  • Emotional boundary: refers to limits around inappropriate topics, sharing your feelings, dismissing emotions, and toxic venting.

  • Time/Energy boundary: helps you prioritize your time and manage the energy you put into relationships.

  • Physical boundary: includes your personal space, privacy, safety, sense of identity and decisions about self-care.

  • Material boundary: sets expectations for how possessions can be used and when.

Set Boundaries, Not Barriers

A confused young man asking

The goal in setting boundaries is not to make your partner act the way you would act.

It's not about hurting feelings, being harsh, or pushing people away.

Setting boundaries can:

  • Make you more self-aware and a better communicator.

  • Make you more respectful of your partner's own boundaries.

  • Help you and your partner have a thriving relationship.

Barriers to boundaries:

Feelings

  • Guilt

  • Fear of rejection

  • Worry about abandonment

  • Anxiety over confrontation

Behaviors

  • Being on the defensive

  • Passive aggressiveness

  • Superficial communication

  • Withdrawing from your partner

How To Create Healthy Boundaries

Don't feel uncomfortable or anxious about setting boundaries with your partner.

Creating healthy boundaries is an empowering skill you can learn.

A young woman trying to be brave saying

3 steps to developing boundaries:

  1. Use your values and priorities to identify boundaries. Is integrity important to you? Set clear expectations about being honest in the relationship.

  2. Be aware of behaviors you can tolerate and accept, and those that make you feel unsafe. Does the idea of yelling during a disagreement make you uncomfortable? Tell your partner how you feel about it.

  3. Pay attention to your feelings. Does a situation or person make you feel uncomfortable, resentful, or guilty? Time to set new boundaries or revisit old ones.

How To Communicate Your Boundaries

  • A young woman smiling and calmly saying Communicate your boundaries clearly, calmly, firmly, and respectfully.

  • Use "I statements" to describe your feelings about your partner's behavior.

  • Stick to the facts without over-explaining, blaming, or becoming defensive. 

  • Deal with pushback or anger calmly by responding instead of reacting.

  • Be consistent and prepare to take actions that honor your boundaries.

Quiz

Amy is having a pleasant conversation with her partner until he starts attacking her political views. Which response below would more likely stop her partner's behavior and enforce her mental boundary for freedom of opinion?

"I thought you were a good person."

"You're rude and childish."

“Let’s agree to disagree.”

"You're right and I'm wrong."

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This Byte has been authored by

CL

Chantal Lerebours

Learning Designer