How To Enforce Relationship Boundaries, And Their Types

Setting Boundaries in Relationships

What are relationships?

They are social ties that offer us a sense of security and belonging.

What are boundaries?

Boundaries define the limits of our acceptance and tolerance in a relationship.

Poor interpersonal boundaries can make us vulnerable, disorganized, and stressful. While healthy boundaries can keep us safe, sorted, and peaceful. With relationship boundaries in place, we also ensure more happiness in our lives.

So, setting boundaries might be the best bet for having healthy, long-lasting relationships.

However, there are also wrong ways of setting boundaries in relationships.

People may set unhealthy and unnecessary boundaries across some of their relationships. But that’s a toxic thing to do, even when these come as handy ways to hide behind fake personas. Because at the end of the day, unhealthy boundaries can work to destroy relationships.

How To Enforce Relationship Boundaries

In whatever relationship you find yourself in life, be it family, romantic, or even business relationships, the most important thing is to set clear and defined boundaries. These are otherwise known as healthy boundaries.

Healthy boundaries eventually build up into successful relationships.

• One big boundary struggle many of us face quite often is how to say “No” to friends and family without hurting them.

So, how do we go about the process?

To set up any boundary, start by asking yourself: “What are my priorities in life?”

Make a list of the things that matter most to you. Then run your thoughts over how much of those you sacrifice because of other people’s priorities. Finally, write down in clear sentences what boundaries you want to set in each of your important relationships.

  • Be intentional, clear, precise.
  • Avoid favoritism in relationships.
  • Don’t allow emotions to cloud your decisions.
  • Be assertive by using powerful words rather than passive sentences.
  • Only set boundaries that make you feel comfortable and not regretful.

Tell people what boundary rules you set for them to stay within when they are with you. Get them to agree they understand you and will honor the new rules.

Healthy boundaries eventually build up into successful relationships. Click To Tweet

Of course, some people will resist these, but you have to stay strong. Let them know boundaries are a healthy and honored part of every relationship. Assure them you will also honor their boundaries.

Six Types of Boundaries To Set In Relationships

#1. The Growth Boundary

Another name for this boundary is ‘Personal Space for Growth‘ boundary. It gives you the ability to set your priorities right while keeping you and others happy.

The growth boundary is especially essential for people in intimate and romantic relationships. It gives them opportunities for individual growth, perhaps more than the moments of mush and schmaltz.

Examine this question: “If the mush and slush are gone from your romantic relationship, what’s left of it?” Beginning there, you’ll find what remains is respectful love for each other. And that kind of love can only come from healthy boundaries.

You need to set this type of boundary with your family members too. To ensure your personal growth, you should make sure they know about your schedules and goals.

People say your family is everything for you, and most of it is true. But don’t hollow out your personal goals to your family’s needs and wants, and forget to live a happy life.

#2. Financial Boundaries

Is having a joint bank account with your spouse healthy for your marital life? Should you always help out your friends and family with money whenever they ask, even if you don’t have enough of it?

Setting financial boundaries is vital for all of us. Learning to say “No” when we don’t have enough means to support our loved ones is a modern virtue.

You have to save yourself from wallowing in debts because you gave people more than you could afford. It would do you real good to tell them you can’t give them what they want.

Financial boundaries help you achieve your money goals. These financial goals are even more important to get you to where you want to be in life when you retire. Examples are:

  • Paying off your debts.
  • Purchasing life insurance.
  • Preparing for long-term financial stability.

#3. Emotional and Sexual Boundaries

Emotional boundaries involve a person’s feelings. While sexual boundaries refer to ones that get violated using sexually suggestive words.

Interestingly, many people, especially women, cringe whenever the opposite gender uses endearing words. Some even describe these as a form of harassment.

Being close to someone doesn’t always warrant such charming terms. You can still show your love and care for them without resorting to such words.

Also, be careful about using the L-word on just anybody, even if you have been friends for ages. Such terms might send the wrong signals or convey an entirely different message to the recipient. You don’t want to play with people’s emotions, do you?

#4. Mental Boundaries

Everyone is different. Every person has different perceptions and opinions, and no one needs others to force their viewpoints down their throats.

If one feels strongly about an idea, instead of making unproven and opinionated arguments, they should back it up with facts. One should always try to convince your audience reasonably.

And even if they don’t agree with the paraded line of ideas, one must never make them feel trivial or stupid.

To have mental boundaries for yourself and others shows you care about the psychological wellbeing of your relationships as well your own.

And, of course, if you care about your loved ones, their mental wellness should be of utmost importance to you.

#5. Digital Boundaries

The world has gradually evolved into a global digital village. People live a large part of their lives online, especially on social media.

As a result, you cannot limit yourself to keeping boundaries on your physical world alone. You’d also need to draw clear lines of interaction in your digital world.

You should set guidelines for social interchanges with your loved ones, friends, and acquaintances. You also have to have boundaries for your fans, followers, and connections.

You could ask yourself: “What do I like or dislike about the dynamics of social media?” And once you have the answers, start by clarifying the following with them:

  • Can we add one another to group chats without asking first?
  • Do we need to tag each other in unconnected posts?
  • Is it okay to check through each other’s devices without permission?

To keep a relationship alive, people in a romantic partnership may need to clarify even more, as:

  • Do we need to announce on social media that we’re dating?
  • When is it okay to call or message each other?
  • Do we have to reply every time, even when it’s not necessary?
  • Do we have to follow each other’s friends on social media?
  • Do I have to like and comment on all your posts, even if I don’t want to?

Remember, you can always revise these boundaries later. You could change and redesign them as you get more comfortable with each other.

You may even want to add or dissolve certain boundaries as your relationship evolves.

#6. Physical boundaries

Your body is yours, and only you choose who gets close to it. Physical boundaries mean to protect your body, privacy, and personal space. They help to mark discrete lines between private and public spaces.

Most of us don’t like people invading our privacy or getting too close to our personal space. To avoid that, we should set our physical boundaries.

  • Do you dislike people hugging you? Then you should make it clear to them.
  • Do you detest others using your items? Then let them know.
  • Do you despise their talking about people close to you? Then tell them you feel it’s wrong of them to do so.
How to Set Strong Boundaries
Julia Kristina: How To Set Strong Boundaries

Six Benefits of Setting Clear Boundaries in Relationships

These are the benefits you gain from setting boundaries in your relationships:

Benefit #1. Unquestioned Respect

A land without laws cannot have any rules broken. Thus, if you set no boundaries in your relationships, everyone is free to do or say whatever they please.

But with boundaries, you shield yourself from words and actions that can hurt or harass.

For example, setting the growth boundary ensures people around you know you have a steadfast goal, so they won’t try to deter you from that. They make sure to remember your schedule and know it is out of the question to tamper with it.

Benefit #2. Well-Deserved Love

Setting boundaries allow people to love you for who you are. Having well-defined boundaries lets people know what not to do with you.

Since they know your nature and preferences, your responses and reactions, and your likes and dislikes, they know when not to cross the line. It ensures you have love and affection that doesn’t waver over time.

Benefit #3. Better Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the art of identifying your own needs and feelings. It helps you separate them from the others and the environment.

Boundaries make sure you understand your needs are at least as important as those of others in your life. Boundaries inspire you to fulfill your needs without worrying about what others may think. With boundaries in place, you become more self-aware and live a more satisfying life.

Creating boundaries gives you the physical and mental space and time you need for growth.

Benefit #4. Stable Personal Health

Personal health is about taking charge of your wellbeing by making conscious decisions to be healthy. It is also as much about getting rid of people who wield a toxic control over you.

Setting boundaries help you distance yourself from unhealthy people and habits. They increase self-esteem and reduce anxiety and stress. They also help reduce the possibility of depression.

Thus, boundaries assist in managing mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and physical health. 

When you don’t set limits on what people can do to you, they can hurt your emotions even without meaning to. They might even ride roughshod over your feelings, causing bitterness in your relationship. But well-established boundaries ensure you get excellent treatment from others. This behavior from others helps you to maintain stable health.

Benefit #5. Bigger Opportunities

Would you prefer to get involved with someone with no clear goals in sight? Or a person whose everyday life goes according to fixed schedules?

People would rather trust their crucial tasks to the latter type because they know those will get done on time.

Now, opportunities can come through friends and families. But they would prefer to recommend you based on how disciplined and organized you are. And this they can find out with ease in the way you treat those close to you. So, does a procrastinator with unclear life goals stand a chance there?

Do you mix work with pleasure? Can people push you around any way they like because you’re good-natured and soft-hearted? Believe it or not, these bits of your nature will not get you far in life. So, set boundaries and get opportunities.

Benefit #6. Authentic Relationships

The reality is you can’t please everyone. No one can.

With boundaries, you get to know who are the people that can stand the test of time and adversities, and stay true to you. These are your real well-wishers, not fair-weather friends. Thus, boundaries help you find out your authentic relationships.

And if having boundaries means you would no more be able to be close to some people, then so be it. You can’t be a people-pleaser without being somewhat a self-saboteur.

Setting healthy boundaries lays a strong foundation for relationships. If boundaries are clear, people know at the outset what kind of a person you are. And once they choose to be close to you, they already know what not to expect from you.

Final Words

Setting boundaries helps forge strong relationships with clear definitions. In the end, your loved ones know you better and have more respect for your choices and decisions. If everyone could set relationship boundaries, they would avoid misunderstandings, hostilities, and bitterness.

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Authors’ Bio: 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 at education and assignment online websites. To read some of his works, follow him on Twitter. Sandip Roy is a medical doctor, psychology writer, happiness researcher. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related medical topics.


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