Have you been told that a relationship without boundaries isn’t healthy?
Are you wondering what exactly relationship boundaries are and why you need to have them in your relationship?
Let me help! To understand healthy relationship boundaries, look at the four walls of your house. Those walls are the structure that holds your life together. They hold your food and your bed and your possessions and it’s where you live your life.
Healthy relationship boundaries are the same as those four walls of your house. They are the things that support your relationship as it grows. To have a healthy relationship, one that can grow and be fruitful, it is important that it has structures, boundaries, that support it.
Healthy relationship boundaries come in many shapes, sizes and colors and they are essential and appropriate for every relationship, whether it be new and exciting or more settled and safe.
Unfortunately, without the four walls around it, a relationship can founder. Why?
#1 – Without boundaries, expectations aren’t clear.
One of the biggest reasons that relationships start to founder is when mutual expectations aren’t met.
Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner just didn’t understand something that was really important to you and that lack of understanding HURT!
Maybe in the beginning of your relationship you always celebrated Saturday mornings by breakfast in bed. A few months into the relationship he started to instead played soccer with his friends.
Did you TELL him how important it was to you that you do that Saturday morning ritual? Did he know how much it hurt that he left you by yourself those days? Or did you just stew and think that if he loved you he would know how important this ritual was to you?
One important relationship boundary is that you set clear expectations of what is important to you so that you both know. We just can’t read each other’s minds and it’s essential that we share what we want and need so that the relationship can be a healthy one.
#2 – Without boundaries, you can lose yourself.
For many of us, when we get into a relationship we tend to lose ourselves in it. In the beginning, all we want to do is be with that person and as the relationship continues we keep up that pattern. Because we want to be with them always, we agree to do what they want to do and put our own needs aside.
Unfortunately, as a result, many of us lose ourselves because we give ourselves over completely to the other person, doing what they want and seeing who they like. Before we know it, we have no idea who we are in the world. Our friends have fallen away, our hobbies are sidelined and we find ourselves without an identity of our own.
And when this happens, our self-esteem plunges. And who wants to be in a relationship with someone with no identity and low self-esteem?
So, set this boundary. Make sure that each of you have time on your own and that you come back to each other in between.
#3 – Without boundaries, one person might always be in charge.
An interesting pattern that often happens in relationship is that one person tends to be in charge.
This particularly happens in marriages with children. Women tend to take over running the family business because they are juggling all of the balls and the men are left as support staff.
Unfortunately, one person being in charge can lead to loss of respect on the part of the person in charge and contempt on the part of the person being bossed around.
So, make an effort to make sure that you are both boss of some aspect of your life. Share the responsibility. Most of the couples that I know who are still married after 20 years work together to keep their family running smoothly.
#4 – Without boundaries, you could stop liking each other.
Imagine if, every day, you and your partner let each other down because you haven’t set clear expectations. And if every day, you are a little more clingy to your guy because of you have lost who you are in the world. Or if, every day, you are condescendingly bossy to your husband because he always seems clueless about what needs to be done around the house.
If that is your every day, do you think that you will continue to like your partner? Do you think the joy that you used to feel every time you saw them will stay with you? Do you think your partner will look upon you with the same respect that he did when you first dating?
Without clear boundaries, the friendship that is so important in any healthy relationship could evaporate. And then where are you?
#5 – Without boundaries, friendships could founder.
Ever since the Victorian age, when Victoria and Albert found true love in an arranged marriage, the ideal of the traditional marriage is that you will find your best friend AND the love of your life AND and a life partner.
That is a tall order for any kind of relationship. To be all things for a person. A lot of pressure, to say the least.
I have always said that I have a friend for every mood. I have a friend for when I am sad, a friend for when I want to play, a friend for going to the movies and a friend to go hiking with. My boyfriend is definitely someone I would choose for some of those activities but definitely not for all of them.
It is essential that, in relationship, you maintain outside friendships because the pressure to be all things to one person is just too much. Unsustainable, some might say.
Make sure that you make the time and spend the energy to maintain your friendships, friendships that will sustain you no matter what you need or what happens in your life.
Relationship boundaries can be hard to understand but are very important to put into place for a healthy relationship.
So, first off, set clear expectations on both sides for what is important in your relationship. Adjust them as time goes on. Make sure that no one is in charge and that you maintain your own, independent life. Work hard to keep liking each other.
Healthy relationships can be hard to maintain but if you do the work, it will be worth it. I promise.
Do you want your relationship to be healthy and strong?
Let me help, NOW, to set some boundaries that will keep it that way!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get started!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.