Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Relationships

I just finish my first year of Grad school and boy have it been a trying year!! I’m currently in a Human Service Administration program with a concentration in Rehabilitation Counseling. This semester, I started my Rehabilitation Counseling classes which were very insightful and informative. My professor discussed a lot this semester on professional boundaries and ethics when dealing with clients and the importance of having strict boundaries to maintain a healthy, therapeutic working relationship. I thought- wow! How amazing our personal relationships would be if we applied these same rules. I personal struggle with setting boundaries in relationships. Sure I set the boundaries in my head but it seems that I can never communicate them to others. Boundaries are very important to have in any healthy relationship. It sets the tone on how your relationship with the other person will be moving forward and it lay down very needed ground rules. So what are boundaries? Boundaries are limitations that are established to identify safe, reasonably ways for other people to behave towards you and how they will respond when these limits are tested. Professional boundaries distinguish ‘what is’ appropriate behavior. In a therapeutic relationship; a counselor suppose to lay down the ground rules on how the counseling sessions will go moving forward so that there are no misunderstandings. How often do we lay down ground rules with our partner in the beginning of our relationships in regards to who we are and what we want? So many relationships are destroyed because majority of the time neither parties know what the other person wants in regards to our emotions, physical space, finances, mentality, sexuality and possessions. Letting someone know how you want to be treated and accepting nothing less is a sure way to a lasting relationship or a bullet you just dodge from a toxic relationship. Below are a few boundaries that I like to set within my own personal relationships:

  • Self-Care
  • Yes! Self Care is very important when setting boundaries in a relationship. If your not okay, what make you think that your okay to deal with someone else. Having that alone time is not selfish or being mean it’s a way to rejuvenate yourself and collect your thoughts. You and your partner should have a clear understanding of what self-care looks like for one another and respecting the need for self care constantly throughout the relationship. Respecting each other’s need of space and knowing when space is needed is important for the longevity of the relationship.
    • How will we communicate?
  • If you and your partner have a disagreement, how will you communicate each other concerns. Do you yell? Do he or she yell to get their point across? Or do you prefer some alone time to get your thoughts together? Do you rationally talked things through or hold things back. Are you 100% open with your partner? However you communicate with your partner should be addressed in the beginning of the relationship so that both parties are aware of how to address a problem once it occur. No one should be blindsided by how the other party react once it’s a disagreement.
    • How will you commit to each other:
  • This is very important going into a relationship because maybe monogamy is not what your partner wants. Maybe a polyamorous relationship is more their speed. Knowing upfront can relieve a lot of heartbreak in the end. How you define infidelity is also important. Some might view a kiss and/or hug as cheating while others view it as harmless. Knowing what you will accept and what to expect from your partner is a clear way of setting healthy boundaries along the way.
    • Know the power of ‘no’
  • Some people think that you are not suppose to tell your partner ‘no’ when asked to do something. Loving your damn self means knowing when someone or something is a detriment to your will being. You should never feel guilty for putting yourself first, even in your relationship. If you feel as though that your partner is taking advantage- tell him or her. Maybe they don’t know; maybe they do and nobody never called them on their shit. Whatever it may be, learn the power of saying ‘no’.
    • What is shared
  • There is always confusion about what is shared or not shared in a relationship; especially in a marriage. Do you have a joint account or not? Do you know each other passcodes to phones, emails, social media? Do you share a car? Do you buy a house together before saying I do? Having the understanding of what is shared and not shared is crucial in a relationship. Finances can break or make a relationship. A financial plan should be developed to determine how money will be used for spending and saving. Knowing when to say ‘no’ to your partner when they mess up with their finances and need to be bailed out is important. Never let anyone’s financial burden become your own. Also learning how to set limits and discussing these limits are a good foundation for boundaries.
    • Sexual Preference
  • Lines can become cross when it comes to sexual acts and I think it’s very important to discuss with your partner beforehand what is acceptable and unacceptable. I love the movie Fifty Shades of Gray because it shows a man knowing what he wants sexual in a relationship and not afraid to discuss it with his partner beforehand; even going as far as creating a contract so that there is no misunderstanding. This movie is a great example of how to set clear boundaries when it comes to having sex. There is no way of knowing what your partner want sexual until it is discussed.
    • Knowing when to let Go
  • In relationships, we often feel obligated to hang on to a situation maybe because of the years invested or simply fear of hurting the other person’s feelings. It’s nothing wrong with calling a time out or just simply saying good bye to a relationship. Why hold on to something or someone that is destroying your happiness. You may not be aware that he or she is destroying your happiness but if you have to question the stability of your relationship than your not happy. Knowing when a person has crossed the line and violated your boundaries is key to loving your damn self. Often when boundaries are crossed there is no going back from that.
  • Last year I spent time on developing boundaries for my own personal relationships. Setting these boundaries helped me weed out the toxicity that was destroying my very well being. I had to realize that it is okay to be vocal with my needs and wants because no one else will. Having a healthy relationship starts with you!

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