Ways to Set Boundaries in Relationship and Types of Boundaries to Set

If you want to create a healthy, happy and fulfilling relationship, you must learn how to set boundaries.  While this may sound easy to achieve, setting boundaries is greatly influenced by your past experiences and also your upbringing to some extent. If you did not grow up around people who set boundaries, it will become hard for you to set boundaries in your grownup relationships. Even so, all is not lost, you can still learn how to set boundaries in a relationship and stick to them.

Signs That You Need to Set Boundaries  

One of the most common telltale signs that you need to start setting boundaries is your inability to say ‘NO’ to people. You may find that you do things mostly out of guilt of the need to please others even when it goes against what you believe in. Generally, you find that you always put your needs last.

If you find that you are always putting other people’s needs first, especially when it hurts you, it is time to start setting boundaries.

Ways to Set Boundaries in A Relationship

  1. Become Self Aware

This is the first step in learning to set boundaries. You need to first understand yourself in terms of what you like and dislike. Find out what makes you comfortable and what scares you. You also need to determine how you would prefer to be treated in different situations.

  1. What Are Your Needs?    

Most relationship issues stem from misunderstandings. Once you know what your needs are in a relationship, let your partner know. If you have issues with certain types of behaviors, you need to let them know. It is only after you express your needs that they are able to understand how you prefer to be treated.

  1. Be Very Direct and Specific  

You need to be able to very specifically and directly communicate your boundaries.

“I would appreciate if you asked me how my day went. Giving me 10 minutes of your undivided attention would mean a lot to me.”

“Kindly put your dirty laundry in the dirty laundry basket every day before 10 am, this will help to ensure they are cleaned every day.”

“Do not read my journal or go through my phone. This makes me feel very violated and disrespected.”

These are good examples of how to be specific and direct about your boundaries. Even so, it is important to also remind the other person about your love and care for them even as you establish your boundaries.

  1. Own Your Feelings

How to set boundaries in a relationship? You need to make use of ‘I’ statements as they help you own the feelings. This makes your partner feel less defensive and helps them to ease up.

Instead of saying “you should always” or “you should do this” you can choose to say “I would really appreciate it if you did this”. It will surprise you how positively responsive your partner will be when you use ‘I’ words as opposed to ‘you’ words.

  1. The Sandwich Approach

The sandwich approach simply refers to the use of a ‘compliment, criticism, and compliment’ in that order. You start with a compliment which makes your partner comfortable about the conversation you're about to have. It also makes it easier for them to take the criticism, which soon follows and then close with a compliment.

“I love our intimate moments. But I love it most when we do it after I am back from work. Doing it in the morning completely throws me off my game throughout the day. Is it possible for us to be enjoying those amazing moments after work?”

This goes a long way in ensuring they understand that you are not complaining but trying to work with a timing that works for the two of you.

Types of Boundaries You Can Set

  1. Acceptable Name Calling

This is a boundary that boils down to respect. There are couples that are okay with name calling. For others, this is off limits. You need to have a talk about what is acceptable and what is not. Ensure that it is clear between the two of you of what is considered offensive.

  1. How to Handle Your Fights

Wondering how to set boundaries in a relationship, especially when you fight? You need to communicate to your partner how you prefer to have your relationship disagreements handled. Some people prefer talking it out while others prefer having time to think things through. You need to set this boundary and stick to it.

  1. Rules for Your Alone Time

Regardless of how close you are in your relationship, it is only normal for a person to want to enjoy some alone time every once in a while. You need to set this boundary in your relationship as it can be a source of constant disagreement. Communicate with your partner about alone time and why it is important to you.

  1. How often You Communicate

All relationships are different. There are some spouses who love talking to each other as many times as possible throughout the day while others are okay with talking once a day. You need to be clear about your expectation in terms of communication while being mindful of their needs and availability. You can decide to be checking up on each other during your tea break or lunch break. This can work to ensure you have a working relationship with functional communication.

  1. Sexual Boundaries   

This is yet another very important point to address as you learn how to set boundaries in a relationship. It is important to let your spouse know how far you're willing to take things. You need to discuss what is acceptable and what is not. This will help to prevent any misunderstanding or set unattainable expectations. Violation of sexual boundaries is unhealthy and also abusive.

  1. The Type of Relationship you’re in  

While most people prefer to commit to one partner, open relationships are also fairly common these days. You need to be clear about what type of relationship you are in. if you are not okay with your partner seeing other people, make it clear from the get go. You also need to determine whether it is okay for you or your partner to flirt with other people and also what you consider as cheating.

A relationship with no boundaries is a relationship made up of hurt feelings and constant arguing. Make it a priority to set boundaries on the onset of the relationship.  

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