Setting Boundaries in Relationships

Kevin Jones
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A boundary can be defined as “a line that marks the limits of an area,” but instead of talking about land boundaries, this post will share information on creating healthy personal boundaries. Personal boundaries are rules/limits that a person creates to identify safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around them. Boundaries also involve dealing with individuals who step outside of those limits.

What are some examples of setting healthy boundaries?

Healthy boundaries are all about standing your ground and letting your partner know how you feel. Here are some examples. 

  1. If your partner is angry and yelling at you, instead of yelling back and escalating the situation even further, you can try saying, “You may not continue to yell at me. I will leave the room and end this conversation if you do.” This technique will allow your partner to hear that you are uncomfortable and implement consequences if their negative actions do not stop. 
  2. If your partner asks you to attend an event and you need more time to think, you can try saying, "I have a rule about not making snap decisions. I need time to think and reflect on what to do. If you need an answer now, it will be no.” A statement like this tells your partner that if they pressure you to make a decision, you will say no, which will make them back off. This will allow you to take the time you need to reach a decision in which you are entirely comfortable.

What if my Boundaries are being ignored? How do I fix this?

Don’t fret if your boundaries are being ignored at first. Here are some steps to help re-establish healthy boundaries.

  1. The first step is to identify the aspects of your boundaries that are currently violated or ignored. For example, if you notice your partner yells at you during arguments, you would identify that behavior.
  2. You want to identify the irrational/unhealthy thinking and beliefs by which you allow your boundaries to be ignored or violated. For example, if you do not feel confident enough to speak up to your partner regarding your boundaries. 
  3. Take time to identify more rational and healthy ways of thinking, encouraging you to build healthy boundaries between yourself and others.
  4. Identify new behaviors you need to add to your behaviors to sustain healthy boundaries between you and others. For example, you could do this by saying, “you may not continue to yell at me. If you do, I will leave the room.”
  5. Lastly, implement your healthy boundaries in your life, so your space, privacy, and right to not be violated are seen and heard. One way to do this is by using one of the example statements above multiple times to reinforce your boundary.

Remember, Boundaries are great! Here are some benefits and guidelines. 

5 Benefits of Boundary Setting

  1. Contribution to others’ well being 
  2. Freedom from bad behavior, fear, or pain
  3. Increased self-esteem and respect
  4. More respect from others
  5. Requirement for honest and direct communication

5 Guidelines for Setting Effective Boundaries 

  1. Backup your boundary setting with action
  2. Be direct, firm, and gracious 
  3. Don’t debate, defend, or over-explain
  4. Have support readily available on the sidelines when you first start
  5. Stay strong, don’t give in to people trying to talk you out of your boundaries

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