Why Are Boundaries Important In Close Relationships?

— Researched and written by Dr. Sandip Roy.

Boundaries in a relationship are the rules and restrictions that a person sets for others, typically with those they are related to.

They define the emotional, physical, and mental limits of the relationship. They tell others what behaviors are acceptable and what are not.

A simple boundary in a friendship could mean telling your friend,

“We can text or call each other every day, but I need no contact at least one day a week to recharge.”

This clearly defines your personal space and communication frequency, instructing them to respect your expectations.

There are several compelling reasons why you must set healthy boundaries in all your relationships.

the importance of setting boundaries in relationships

Why You Must Have Boundaries In Your Relationships

Boundaries allow us to convey our needs and limits, safeguard our respect and integrity, and build mutual understanding and trust.

Setting boundaries is an act of self-preservation, not an attempt to impose our will on others. In fact, successful relationships and personal well-being depend on healthy boundaries.

However, these days, there’s a troubling trend where the concept of boundaries is misappropriated, making it a tactic to control or manipulate others.

This deformation of boundaries can show up in relationships at all levels. Even celebrities who are role models for their thousands of followers can be affected by this distortion of boundaries.

For example, one partner may insist on controlling whom the other may get friends with, using the guise of “personal boundaries” to exert dominance.

Such demands encroach on an individual’s autonomy, identity, and freedom, casting a shadow over the original purpose of boundaries.

People on the receiving end of these distorted boundaries can be wracked with guilt, believing they’ve failed to honor the other person’s psychological space.

We must recognize when the language of boundaries is being weaponized as a means of control rather than as a shield for mental health.

We must learn to differentiate between genuine self-care and the imposition of one’s will under the false banner of boundaries.

True boundaries are meant to protect one from discomfort or manipulation, not to serve as ultimatums that infringe upon someone else’s personal rights.

Some reasons why you must set boundaries in your relationships:

1. Boundaries Encourage Others To Maintain Respect.

Boundaries in relationships promote mutual respect and understanding.

They tell the other person what actions of theirs indicate their disrespect for you and make you reconsider the relationship.

It can lead to more respectful communication and a more resilient connection.

Most crucially, setting boundaries is a way of taking care of our mental well-being.

It fixes limits on what we will tolerate, so we can protect ourselves from being taken advantage of or mistreated. It also makes it easier to say no to things that do not serve us well.

2. They Help People Receive Well-Deserved Love.

Boundaries allow people to accept you as you are and love you for who you are, not what they want you to be.

Boundaries provide a sense of safety, security, predictability, and integrity in relationships.

By setting boundaries, you define your needs, wants, and limits. It also encourages you to know about theirs, and then balance each other’s limits and demands.

It allows both of you to be more assertive and self-aware in your interactions, and gain a better insight into each other’s perspectives and needs.

Boundaries make sure your love for each other does not wane over time.

3. They Help Create Better Self-Awareness.

Boundaries help you become more self-aware.

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

Boundaries help you maintain your sense of self and live a more fulfilling life.

They help you assert that your needs are just as essential as those of others in your life. They allow you to meet your own needs without bothering about what others may think.

Boundaries give you the space and time to understand yourself in a way that is not selfish but rather self-nurturing.

4. Boundaries Promote Stable Personal Health.

We have always known that it’s your personal health that must come first if you want to achieve anything worthwhile in life.

Stable personal health is about getting rid of toxic people in your life.

Toxic people hurt your emotions even when they are not there beside you. They can disrepute you behind your back and poison your other relationships.

Narcissists do it commonly, making you dependent on them while distancing you from your other supporting relationships.

Setting boundaries helps you distance yourself from people who take a toll on your mental health and get you into bad habits.

They solidify your self-esteem while reducing your anxiety about people-pleasing.

Boundaries also help you get physically healthier. With healthy boundaries, you are far away from bad habits like smoking and drinking, while more motivated to good habits like exercising and being happy.

5. They Offer Bigger Opportunities

Would you prefer to get involved with someone without clear goals? 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 family. 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 fuzzy life goals stand a chance there?

Do you mix work with pleasure? Can people push you around any way they like because you are 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.

6. They Validate Authentic Relationships

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

With boundaries, you get to know who are the people who 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 longer be able to be close to some people, then so be it. You can’t be a people-pleaser without being a self-saboteur.

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

Final Words

No laws can be broken in a land where there are no laws.

So, if you don’t set boundaries ahead of time, don’t make a fuss when the other person steps on your toes.

When boundaries are not set, it can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and feelings of resentment.

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When it comes to mental well-being, you don't have to do it alone. Going to therapy to feel better is a positive choice. Therapists can help you work through your trauma triggers and emotional patterns.