By Eleanor Beeslaar
Now that we’ve talked about what healthy vs. unhealthy boundaries look like, we can focus on how to set healthy boundaries in your relationships. Healthy boundaries are essential for safe, happy, and healthy relationships, as they allow you and the other person to feel respected, cared for, and understood. Healthy boundaries also take work to develop and maintain and can change over time. In today’s blog, we will be providing tips to help you set healthy boundaries in your relationships.
Know your wants, needs, fears, and limits. The first step in setting healthy boundaries is understanding what you want and need from a relationship, as well as what your fears and limits are within that relationship. This may involve thinking back to past relationships, and looking internally to understand what felt comfortable and safe or what felt scary and unsettling. Once you have a better understanding of what you need to feel safe, accepted, and happy in a relationship, it is easier to communicate these wants and needs to others.
When communicating your boundaries, be clear, specific, and direct. The next step in setting healthy boundaries in your relationships is to communicate them to the other person. When talking to someone about your boundaries, it is important to be clear and direct about your needs, wants, fears, and limits. This leaves little room for miscommunication or misinterpretation from the other person. It is also helpful to be specific when communicating your boundaries to others. For example, a teen can set a boundary with a parent about privacy and autonomy by asking them to refrain from reading their journal. Here is what that may sound like: “Please do not read my journal. I feel disrespected when my privacy is violated.”
Follow through with your boundaries. Another important step healthy boundary setting involves following through with your boundaries. Be sure to enforce your boundaries with others, especially when they are being violated. You have the right to say “no” and speak out when someone else crosses or disrespects a boundary. Though it may feel scary at first, this is a crucial part of maintaining healthy boundaries over time. A great way to check-in with others about your boundaries is to have boundary conversations when things are going well.
Boundaries can change over time. As we grow and change, our boundaries may grow and change with us, and that is completely normal. With time and experience, you may be comfortable with something that, at first, you were not okay with. It is important to keep checking in with yourself and recognizing your wants, needs, fears, and limits as they change over time. It is also essential to communicate changes in your boundaries with the people you have relationships with. Though we have mostly talked about boundaries growing and expanding over time, we also want to recognize that the opposite is also true. Just because you were comfortable with something in the beginning of the relationship does not mean that you can’t change your mind about it later on. This is especially critical when thinking about sexual boundaries and consent. You have the right to change your mind about what you are comfortable with in a sexual relationship and you can say “no” at any point where you feel uncomfortable.
We hope that this information has been helpful and that you will keep these tips in mind as you are working on setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in your different relationships!