Earlier this week, we talked about the importance of owning your values and showing kindness even when the other person is being hurtful, as well as accepting that you can only control your own actions and emotions. However, this does not mean that you should allow others to treat you in ways that are hurtful and damaging to you, your relationship, and anyone else involved.

It is essential to communicate your boundaries to the other person during relationship chaos and life challenges. Although it’s up to them to decide if they will honor or violate your boundaries, it will be much easier for you to gauge if they have crossed your boundaries if you are sure that you have communicated the boundaries to them. It will also be easier to reinforce boundaries and take the steps necessary to discuss boundary violations, if you have communicated them beforehand.

As you engage in the process of discovering, communicating, and maintaining your boundaries, keep the following affirmation in mind: “I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Here are some steps to help you set boundaries during relationship challenges:

  1. Engaging in self-reflection: Identify your needs for how you want to be treated within the context of that relationship.
  2. Turning insight into boundaries: Translate the needs you identified in Step 1 into boundaries for your relationship. Identify which behaviors will and will not be acceptable to you in the relationship.
  3. Determining how to communicate your boundaries: Take time to think through the most positive way you can communicate your boundaries to the other person. Consider how you can convey these in a non-threatening manner, so that the other person will be least defensive and most receptive to your needs.
  4. Communicating your boundaries: Find a good time that feels relatively calm and stable. Be calm and clear. If you’re confident in your needs, communicate them firmly but in a caring manner. To the extent you feel it’s necessary, share the rationale for your boundaries. However, if you’re certain about them, avoid getting into a debate them with the other person. You can say, “I’ve told you what I would like to see in our relationship. This is important to me. It’s your choice if you’ll choose to honor this request, but I hope you will consider it and my needs.”
  5. Responding to boundary violations: If the other person violates a boundary you’ve communicated clearly to them, consider the best way to respond. You can remind them of your request through another conversation. You may choose not to respond, such as if they call you at an hour that you asked them not to call you. Take time to determine the best course of action.
  6. Observing the other person’s response to your boundaries: Notice the extent to which the other person honors your boundaries. If the other person frequently violates your boundaries, it may be a sign of their lack of respect for you. On the other hand, when someone respects your boundaries, this can help to re-establish trust and respect in the relationship.
  7. Choosing your next steps: As you begin to be more comfortable with understanding and communicating your boundaries, you may identify new boundary issues to address. You may notice other boundary violations in other areas of your life. Stay mindful of your boundaries and how other people respond to them over time, and repeat the steps above as needed.


The information in today’s blog was adapted from one of our earlier series, “In the Midst of Relationship Chaos.” To see the original post, check out the following link: http://www.guilfordhri.org/in-the-midst-of-relationship-chaos-step-4-set-appropriate-boundaries/

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