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Part of the reason we have boundaries is so we take care of our own “stuff” and don’t wait for another person to solve all our problems.
This means owning the choices you made, even when they are unintentional, that may have contributed to a painful situation.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery This quote encapsulates what most healthy relationships really look like — two individuals who support each other on their distinct journeys, rather than two people who become lost in one another.
Much of this comes down to having and maintaining clear boundaries, even within a romantic relationship.
It may seem obvious, but what are boundaries, really?
“Personal boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves as individuals in relationships,” psychotherapist Deborah Hecker writes.
Another might have concerns about spending time away from the relationship with friends. Boucher advises these boundaries need to be “made clear so the people in the relationship continue to feel safe and understood.” If you’re unsure what your personal boundaries are, it’s going to be hard for others to follow them.
To help figure out your own limits, start by tuning into your emotions and thoughts.
Knowing the importance of boundaries in a romantic context, here are four tips for setting and maintaining healthier boundaries with a partner: The first step to setting healthy boundaries is getting clear on what aspects of your relationship dynamic you and your partner should discuss in the first place.
Boucher explains that couples will want to revisit the discussion even after tie has passed, as they may “want to explore different things sexually” at different points in the relationship or check in to “make sure that each person is still on that same page.” Emotional boundaries may feel a bit more abstract.
Setting these may include creating limits for how a couple behaves during tough or combative moments.
We also need to tap into what we value, non-negotiably, in all facets of our individual lives — whether that’s maintaining a hobby on the weekends, or spending a certain holiday with beloved family members. Am I always striving for personal satisfaction and happiness?
To hone in on your specific values, Hecker recommends asking yourself questions such as, “What is important to me? ” Once you’ve had the time to reflect on your boundaries, the next step is communication.
For couples, this will likely include sexual boundaries, emotional boundaries, and boundaries around external relationships.