Happy Mental Health Monday, HMT family! Welcome back to our blogpost series on BOUNDARIES and how to set healthy ones in different areas of our lives. We have already covered what boundaries are, why they are important, and how to set healthy boundaries with co-workers, supervisors, friends, and family. If you missed any of the previous posts in this series, check them out here. For our final post in this series, we'll share seven essential tips for establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in your romantic relationship.
"Boundaries are not barriers; they are bridges to a healthier, more fulfilling relationship. "
Maintaining healthy relationship boundaries
Love is a beautiful thing, but it doesn't mean giving up your individuality and personal space. Healthy boundaries are crucial in any relationship, helping to maintain respect, trust, and a sense of self. While it's natural to want to be close to your significant other, it's equally important to have healthy boundaries to ensure the relationship remains fulfilling and balanced. We put together seven tips that we think will help couples work towards a balanced and fulfilling relationship.
Tip #1: Self-Reflection
We shared last time that self-reflection plays a huge role in setting healthy boundaries, no matter the reason for setting them. It is no different when setting boundaries in a relationship. Take some time to reflect on your values, your needs, and your personal limits. Understand what makes you comfortable or uncomfortable in a relationship. Knowing yourself better will enable you to communicate your boundaries effectively to your partner. Don't expect them to know you better than you know yourself.
Tip #2: Open and Honest Communication
Seeing a pattern here? All of our boundary posts have included self-reflection and clear communication, meaning these are very essential when setting boundaries. When in a relationship, it becomes easy to miscommunicate, or worse, to not communicate at all. Without communication, your relationship is like a plant left in the sun too long without water...it is doomed to die! Effective communication is a must-have for any healthy relationship. Create a safe space where both of you can express your feelings and concerns without judgment. Discuss your boundaries openly and honestly with your significant other. And listen way more than talk. Communication is about seeking to understand and to be understood, rather than to be heard or to be right.
Tip #3: Name Your Deal-Breakers
In having open and honest communication with your significant other, it is important to also discuss what your deal-breakers are. Not all boundaries are created equal, and some may be more important to you than others. Identify your non-negotiable boundaries—the ones you absolutely cannot compromise on. These might include things like personal space, privacy, or time for self-care. Clearly communicate these boundaries to your partner so they understand their significance.
Tip #4: set Clear Expectations
Ambiguity can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. Set clear expectations about your boundaries, particularly when it comes to issues like time spent together, personal space, and communication. Make sure both you and your partner are on the same page and agree on the boundaries you've established.
"Communication is about seeking to understand and to be understood, rather than to be heard or to be right. "
Tip #5: Be Flexible & Willing to Compromise
Healthy boundaries are about balance, not rigidity. Understand that there may be times when you or your partner need to adjust your boundaries to accommodate each other's needs. Relationships mean it is no longer just about you; you consider the other person as well. Be open to compromise and finding solutions that work for both of you. If you are not able to compromise, agree to disagree.
Tip #6: Respect Their Space
Being cuddled up together and by each other's side is real cute from time to time, but in reality every one needs some personal space and personal time. Allow each other to pursue personal interests, hobbies, and friendships. Yes, you are in a relationship but you are also still an individual. It is possible to foster both you as an individual and you in a relationship. Encourage and support each other's growth and self-discovery.
It is important to note, however, that your partner should be just as respectful of the relationship as you are respectful of their personal space. Personal space should not be used as a gateway to infidelity. If you are using personal space as a means to avoid your partner or avoid being around them, that is usually a sign of a more serious underlying problem.
Tip #7: RE-Evaluate
As your relationship evolves, so might your boundaries. It's important to regularly re-evaluate your boundaries and check in with your partner to ensure they are still valid and appropriate. Life changes, circumstances change, and so do our needs and boundaries. By staying open to reassessment, you can adapt and grow together vs. staying stuck or breaking up.
In a Nutshell
Healthy boundaries are the foundation of a strong and loving relationship. They provide the foundation for mutual respect, trust, and individual growth. By practicing self-reflection, open communication, and flexibility, you can create an environment where both you and your significant other can thrive. Remember, boundaries are not barriers; they are bridges to a healthier, more fulfilling relationship. Take the time to nurture and maintain them, and watch your love grow stronger.
Bree Vanley is the CEO of Heart Matters Therapy, PLLC. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the State of Arkansas and Texas, who focuses primarily on anxiety, grief, and trauma. She is committed to helping individuals enhance their emotional and mental health. For more information, please click here.