Most people think of boundaries as a bad thing.
You may think of siblings who share a room dividing the room in half to designate their sides. You might even think of someone drawing a line in the sand to separate themselves from someone else. Or maybe you’re picturing something more intense, like a fence or a wall.
What if we told you that boundaries are actually a good thing? In fact, they’re healthy and can make the existing relationships in your life even better?
Let’s learn more about healthy boundaries and how to set them in a relationship.
What is a Healthy Boundary?
Healthy boundaries are a way to ensure that you’re setting your own personal limits when it comes to friends, family, romantic, or working relationships. Boundaries are what help to protect your personal and/or mental space.
A healthy boundary means that you and the other person in the relationship have your own boundaries and that you are respecting and acknowledging the other’s boundaries. Boundaries mean that you’re sticking with the ones you’re setting but also respecting the other person’s boundaries.
Examples of Healthy Boundaries
Here are a few examples of healthy boundaries:
- Accepting when someone else says “no”
- Clearly communicating your wants and needs
- Respecting the wants and needs of others
- Respecting other people’s opinions, beliefs, or values, even when they may be different from your own
- Saying “no”
Types of Boundaries
There are many different types of boundaries. You may set a physical boundary in a family dynamic. A sexual boundary may be set when you’re dating or in a romantic relationship. At work, you may have intellectual or time boundaries. You may have some relationships that require more than one type of boundary. Here are a few of the different types of boundaries that you may want to set in your relationships:
Emotional boundaries are those you set to protect your feelings, emotions, and thoughts. This type of boundary can be crossed is someone shares one of your confidential or private conversations with someone without getting your permission first. Emotional boundaries can also be crossed if the other person minimizes your feelings.
A material or financial boundary is set to protect your money or personal belongings. This boundary may be crossed if a friend is pressuring you into loaning them money or requesting to borrow or use your personal property.
A mental or intellectual boundary can be crossed when someone dismisses or belittles you for any thoughts, beliefs, or ideas you hold or share. They aren’t respecting your boundary in those cases. Mental or intellectual boundaries are the boundaries you set to protect your beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. If
Physical boundaries include your physical space, as well as your body. Let that be known if you prefer handshakes over a hug or a kiss on the cheek. Others should respect your personal space and the boundaries you have set for yourself.
Sexual boundaries are crossed when someone pressures you or tries to control you into intimate affection, touching, or sexual activity.
A time boundary can be crossed if you’re struggling with a work/life balance. Many people may have to set time boundaries regarding their careers, like stopping work after a certain time or during weekends, to protect their relationships with their family and friends and their mental health.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship
Setting boundaries for yourself doesn’t have to be bad for yourself or your relationships. In fact, boundaries can help strengthen those relationships you already have.
Start small and focus on setting one boundary at a time. Try to determine areas of your life that you would like to improve. Keep your boundaries short and simple. This will help make it easier and clearer when explaining your boundaries. Once you have a few boundaries, practice communicating them.
Setting boundaries is a great step toward improving your relationships and protecting your overall mental health and wellness. Reach out to us today for relationship counseling if you need extra help setting boundaries for yourself. We’re here to help you however we can.