Discover the six essential boundaries in relationships and learn how to set them without being controlling, to have fulfilling and harmonious relationships.
What are our relationships? They are the social bonds that offer us a sense of security and belonging.
What are the boundaries in a relationship? They are the fence lines in a relationship that define what the other person can and cannot do while they are with you.
If you learn how to set healthy boundaries, it could give stability and peace to your relationships. If not, you could be wasting your time and energy in bad company.
What Are Boundaries In Relationships?
Boundaries in a relationship are restrictions that define what is and is not acceptable behavior. They promote respect and autonomy while reducing misunderstandings and conflicts. They help people feel comfortable, secure, and balanced in a relationship by prioritizing personal space, time, choices, and activities.
First rule: Setting healthy boundaries in relationships doesn’t need you to apologize.
Boundaries in relationships are like garden fences. We need them to keep out other people’s unacceptable and intolerant behavior.
Neglected boundaries corrode and weaken with time, so we must upkeep and rebuild them regularly.
6 Types of Boundaries In Relationships: Set Them Without Being Controlling
Every toxic relationship has some unhealthy boundaries. They frustrate us for years before we realize we must rebuild them without being too controlling.
On the other hand, our good relationships may have grown a few unsettling boundaries. The goal in this case is to set boundaries that allow us to be who we are inside the relationship, without losing ourselves or dominating the other person.
Here are the six boundaries to set in relationships without being controlling:
1. Growth Boundary
This is also known as the boundary for Personal Space for Growth.
This boundary gives you the flexibility and freedom to establish your personal priorities and balance the needs of yourself and others.
This boundary is especially crucial in intimate and romantic relationships, as it allows for personal growth and shared experiences while preserving personal expression and freedom of choice.
Healthy growth boundaries help cultivate respectful love for each other.
Remember, it is always okay to give a little higher priority to your personal goals and dreams even within loving family relationships.
As you inform both romantic partners and family members of your goals and ambitions, set clear boundaries for them.
When they realize when it is wrong to interrupt or ask you for certain things, it makes sure they do not hinder your personal growth and that you are still fully present in the relationship.
- Most relationships do not require full disclosure, and simply being together does not entitle them to demand that you disclose all of your passwords to them.
- Your family means the world to you, but you don’t have to give up all of your personal aspirations to meet their needs and desires.
2. Financial Boundary
Is having a joint bank account with your spouse useful to your marriage?
Should you always give money to your friends and family when they ask?
The skill of setting financial boundaries is an essential modern virtue. It plays a crucial role in securing our financial future, mental peace, and physical well-being.
These boundaries help us pay off debts, get health insurance, and plan for retirement, as well as reach our financial goals (like a million dollars by the age of 60).
Learn not to feel obligated to borrow money to give someone money you don’t have. Instead of stressing about repayment or feeling anxious about asking for money several times, decline requests for money.
Try to follow this with your loved ones too.
Saying “No” without being rude to anyone seeking your monetary help will let you secure your financial future as well as maintain healthy relationships.
3. Digital Boundary
The world is a global digital village today. Your presence or absence is no longer defined by physical walls and doors.
The internet has allowed people from opposite sides of the world to check out each others’ activities and creations on social media.
This necessitates a new type of boundary – digital boundary.
Set ground rules for online social interactions with loved ones, friends, and acquaintances. Establish and enforce boundaries for your fans, followers, and connections.
Start by asking yourself: “What do I like/dislike about my social media connections?”
Once you have the answers, open a conversation with them about acceptable online behavior.
- Can you stop tagging me in your posts?
- Can you not add me to a group chat without first asking?
- Can you stop going through my devices without permission?
To keep a romantic relationship responsible and nonintrusive, set clear digital boundaries by mutual consent.
- Do we need to announce on social media that we are dating?
- When is it okay to call or message each other at certain times?
- Do we have to reply every time, even when I feel it is unnecessary?
- Do we have to follow each other’s friends and relatives on social media?
- Do I have to like and comment on all your posts, even if I do not want to?
3. Emotional Boundary
Emotional boundaries put up a fence around your feelings and emotions.
These boundaries keep others from hurting your happiness and peace. They prevent others from telling you to “get over it” when you are in grief.
You don’t need to apologize for setting up an emotional boundary.
Don’t say, “I am sorry,” when you set up your boundary, “… but could you please not call me up to talk about your dramas with your mother-in-law?”
Having an emotional boundary in place allows you to have some alone time without having to explain if you are feeling stressed or upset.
Your smiles and tears are first of all yours, and you are not required to explain them or say sorry for them.
Similarly, unless you know them well, don’t ask a coworker or friend why they are upset or crying. Don’t go digging to find out what’s wrong with someone; it may invade their personal space.
When someone of the other gender uses endearing language, many people, particularly women, find it offensive and consider it harassment.
You don’t require to allow others to use language or phrases that make you uncomfortable, whether it is derogatory or endearing.
Do not use or tolerate sexually provocative language in any context, not just the office or the class.
Stop using phrases that may be offensive to the other person, even if they are close to you. Get their permission before using special words to express your love and concern for them.
Such phrases may send the recipient the wrong signals or express an entirely different idea. Playing with other people’s emotions is simply wrong.
As a general rule, when setting emotional boundaries:
- be clear and specific;
- be firm and direct;
- do not negotiate;
- do not apologize.
4. Mental Boundary
Everyone is different. Every person has different perceptions and opinions, and no one should feel pressured to conform to someone else’s viewpoints.
If someone feels strongly about an idea, ask them to back it up with facts and present it in a fair and decent way without belittling you or anyone else.
Don’t let anyone shout you down with their unproven opinions as final proof.
Request that they disagree with dignity. If they still try to parade their ideas as superior, making you feel trivial or stupid, leave the scene.
Having mental boundaries not only protects your own mental wellness, but also shows your consideration for the well-being of others.
Remember, you can always review your mental boundaries and adjust them as relationships evolve.
Your mental wellness comes before your social relationships.
6. Physical Boundary
Your body is yours, and only you decide who gets close to it.
Physical boundaries are meant to protect your body, privacy, and personal space. By setting physical boundaries, you show them how to respect your comfort and privacy.
This includes marking the line between your availability in private and public spaces. It makes clear what behaviors are acceptable, such as hugging or using personal items.
Most of us dislike people invading our privacy or getting too close to our personal space. To avoid that, we should set our physical boundaries.
- Do you hate others using your items? Then let them know.
- Do you dislike people hugging you? Then you must make it clear to them.
- Do you despise their talking about people close to you? Then tell them you feel it is wrong.
What are unhealthy boundaries in relationships?
Here are some examples of unhealthy boundaries:
- Lack of boundaries: If you have no boundaries, or have porous boundaries, you have no restrictions on what you will and will not tolerate in your relationship. It can lead to a sense of being exploited and having limited control over your life.
- Rigid boundaries: Having rigid boundaries means that you have strict rules about what you will and will not allow in the relationship. This might make it difficult to compromise and make it difficult for your partner to feel like they have any autonomy in the relationship.
- Controlling boundaries: Having controlling boundaries means that you try to control your partner’s behavior, thoughts, or feelings. This can be emotionally abusive and can lead to resentment and a lack of trust in the relationship.
- Dependent boundaries: Having dependent boundaries means that you rely on your partner for your own sense of self and well-being. This can develop into codependency and can make it hard for you to have a healthy, independent sense of self.
Unhealthy interpersonal boundaries can make us vulnerable, disorganized, and stressed. These can destroy even our most cherished intimate relationships.
The table below marks the differences between healthy and unhealthy boundaries:
What are healthy boundaries in relationships?
Healthy boundaries can keep us safe, organized, and calm. They are especially crucial in maintaining a sense of mutual respect and individual autonomy. Setting healthy boundaries helps our relationships last a long time. When we set healthy boundaries, we ensure that we have happiness in our lives and in our relationships.
Books On Boundaries
- Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by John Townsend and Henry Cloud
- Boundaries: How to Draw the Line in Your Head, Heart and Home by Jennie Miller and Victoria Lambert
- Establishing Boundaries: How to Protect Yourself, Become Assertive, Take Back Control, and Set Yourself Free by Patrick King
- Setting Boundaries Will Set You Free: The Ultimate Guide to Telling the Truth, Creating Connection, and Finding Freedom by Nancy Levin
- Boundaries After a Pathological Relationship by Adelyn Birch
Setting boundaries enriches our relationships with clear definitions, lets us find our comfort levels in the relationship, and helps our self-esteem grow.
Of course, your loved ones know you better and have greater respect for your choices and decisions.
But boundaries in your relationships with them could help prevent many misunderstandings, hostility, and bitterness.
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Author Bios: Leon Collier is a freelance writer from Edinburgh who writes about pop culture, history, travel, self-development, education, and marketing. Leon offers extensive writing services on assignment online websites. Edited and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes popular science articles on happiness, positive psychology, and related topics.
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