What are boundaries?
A boundary is something that separates you from something (or someone) else, like a fence around a yard or a warning sign at a dangerous location.
In a romantic relationship, a boundary can be physical, sexual, or emotional, and can apply to your interactions with others and your possessions (or all of the above!).
Your boundaries are based upon what you value, how you feel, what you want, what matters to you, what makes you feel safe and what doesn’t and what is and is not acceptable to you in your life.
What is and isn’t allowed by each partner creates the boundaries between them so that they are not unintentionally hurting each other, being taken advantage of or used.
The important thing to remember about your personal boundaries is that they are personal to you and should not be about someone else’s feelings, needs or wants.
How do I know what my boundaries are?
The way you feel about something is your barometer. If it doesn’t feel good or right to you when someone says or does something, then you know that may be one of your boundaries.
If it doesn’t feel good to you when someone took something of yours without asking you first, that’s a boundary for you.
If it hurts you when someone breaks your confidence, that’s a boundary for you.
If it feels wrong to you when your partner lied to you, that’s a boundary for you.
The simplest way to know what you have boundaries around is how you feel.
Trust how you feel.
Once you know what your boundaries are then you need to decide on a consequence if someone violates those boundaries. You need to communicate your boundary and the consequence and be prepared to enforce the consequence if your boundary is not honored.
It may sound like a lot of structure, but this structure creates personal freedom.
Boundaries are not only important in our romantic relationships but in all our relationships.
What are some examples of boundaries?
Many couples have similar boundaries, so they relate to each other in similar ways. These are some examples of some boundaries many couples share:
- Treating one another with kindness and compassion
- Not raising their voices or yelling at one another
- Not using foul language with one another
- Not using put-downs or belittling their partner or attacking their partner’s character
- No throwing things
- No hitting or acts of physical violence
- Respecting each other’s privacy
- Respecting each other’s belongings
- No abusive behavior*
Certain boundaries are considered “deal breakers” a term coined by Tina Fey in her TV series, Thirty Rock (which I LOVE, by the way, big fan!). An example of a deal breaker for some committed monogamous couples would be infidelity.
When you have very different boundaries from your partner this can be a source of conflict or worse it could be the reason a relationship ends if those boundaries are deal breakers for either one of you.
*It’s important to note that abusive behavior of any kind is a deal breaker.
Should you ever compromise your boundaries?
The short answer is a hard no.
Boundaries are based upon your values and you should never compromise your values.
Compromising your boundaries to make someone else happy will hurt them and it will hurt you.
If you don’t have boundaries people will walk all over you, if you do have boundaries they push to see what you will or won’t allow.
When your boundaries are challenged it helps you know what your boundaries are and whether a relationship is healthy or not.
Having boundaries is a form of self-love and self-respect.
What you value matters.
You can change your mind with boundaries just like anything else. That’s up to you but if you do make sure it feels right to you and it’s because it’s truly what you want not because you are doing it to make someone else happy.
A healthy, loving, romantic partner will not want something from you that you don’t honestly want to give.
Why would they? You wouldn’t want that from your romantic partner either, would you?
How to communicate your boundaries.
Discussing boundaries can be scary and challenging. Even as a relationship coach it’s something I personally struggle with, but it’s necessary and the outcome is so worth it.
When you communicate your boundaries, you want to do so from a place of love and compassion for yourself and your partner.
Don’t try and communicate your boundaries when you are angry or upset. If you’re upset, make sure to cool down first. Then find a time that works well for you and your partner to discuss the boundary (preferably not in bed or while either person is distracted). Let them know in advance you want to discuss boundaries.
Thank your partner for being open to listening to you and hearing your boundary. Tell them the boundary and be prepared to enforce your boundary. Give them time to consider the boundary if necessary but be firm and clear about an agreed upon length of time to do so.
Your partner may or may not agree with your boundary. If they do not then you must enforce the consequence whatever that may be for you of not honoring that boundary.
If the boundary is a deal breaker for you and is something your partner cannot honor you will need to end the relationship.
A boundary will not matter if you aren’t willing to follow through with the consequence of violating that boundary.
Though difficult and painful, the temporary pain of ending an unhealthy relationship will far outweigh the long-term pain of not living in alignment with your own values in a relationship where your boundaries are not honored.
You are brave enough and strong enough to do whatever you have to do even if it breaks your heart to do it. And if this is a decision you face you don’t have to do it alone, I’m here if you need support. Please reach out to me or another coach, a trusted friend, or a therapist.
You deserve to have a happy, healthy, relationship with a partner that will honor and respect your boundaries. Don’t settle for anything less.
Boundaries are not only important in our romantic relationship but in all our relationships.
Boundaries are personal based upon your values, what matters to you, what makes you feel safe and what doesn’t, what you will and won’t allow regarding how others behave towards you.
You know what your boundaries are based upon what you feel.
Boundaries protect you from being hurt or used by other people.
Having, communicating, and enforcing your boundaries when needed, is essential to have a happy, healthy romantic relationship you deserve with your partner.
Wishing you and yours all the best in life and love, always,
I’d love to hear from you.
What are some of your boundaries in your romantic relationship? Are there boundaries in your romantic relationship that you haven’t communicated? Why not?
Do you have more questions about boundaries that I didn’t address in this post? Be sure and let me know.
P.S. Please don’t share any links to outside websites; any links will be deleted.
Have questions for me?
Please email me: [email protected]
Your question may be answered in a future blog post!