#1: Asking for space when you need it.
No matter how social you are, it would be best to be by yourself sometimes. Some people prefer to process hard days, bad news, and emotional turmoil alone. The premise of a relationship is that you are never truly alone – but it is healthy to ask for space when you need it.
Alone time in a relationship helps you maintain a sense of independence and identity outside the relationship – which is essential.
Make sure you set this boundary so your partner understands you need alone time now and again. If you don’t, your partner may feel like you are distancing yourself from them and misinterpret your intentions.
#2: Talk about things that make you uncomfortable.
Your partner needs to understand your line for things that make you uncomfortable. This could include topics of discussion like religion or politics, mean jokes, making fun of your insecurities, crossing a physical line, or other things that make you uncomfortable.
You need to be able to voice your concerns and set rules for what you will and will not tolerate in the relationship. You also need to have a plan for if they cross that boundary.
For example, telling your partner, “during an argument, you can raise your voice, but you do not ever call me a mean name just because you are angry,” is a clear and concise boundary of what you will tolerate in the context of an argument.
Furthermore, having a plan, such as stopping the conversation immediately, reminding them of the boundary that has been crossed, and ceasing the argument until they apologize and are calm enough to avoid crossing the boundary again, is setting a plan for if the boundary is crossed.
#3: Talk about the level of privacy acceptable in the relationship.
Everyone has the right to privacy – so if a boundary you or your partner set violates the fundamental right to privacy, it needs to be addressed.
However, the level of privacy is open for debate and will differ from couple to couple. Some couples will opt for more privacy than others, which is okay.
What matters is setting a boundary on the level of privacy so that both of you feel your right to privacy is being upheld.
An example of a healthy privacy boundary could be having the password to each other’s phone but not the password to apps on the phone. This is reasonable in case your partner needs you to check a text or call someone back for them on their phone.
An unhealthy privacy boundary would be trying to force your partner to give you their email password or trying to read their social media DMs without their permission. Again, this violates the right to privacy.
If you are a couple that is okay with that level of openness – that’s fine. The point is to find a level of privacy that works for both people and then not violate that boundary.
#4: Talking about what is and is not okay in the bedroom.
Again, this will look vastly different from couple to couple. However, the basics of setting boundaries are the same. You must talk to each other and set boundaries on what you will and will not do involving intimacy.
This boundary is complicated for many couples to set because setting boundaries in the bedroom can be awkward. However, it must be done to avoid making one of you feel uncomfortable.
Make sure you talk about things you like and do not like, what you will and will not allow to be done to you, and talk about what you will and will not do to your partner. Again, honesty is everything here – do not do anything you are uncomfortable with, and do not allow yourself to be pressured into something just because your partner wants to.
Discuss compromises within the boundaries set if necessary, but do not allow your boundaries to be crossed.
#5: You need to set boundaries for finances.
At the beginning of a relationship, this boundary is less important. However, this boundary becomes much more important once you start getting more serious and looking to move in together or get married.
You need to be able to discuss what is and is not okay as far as finances go. This includes topics such as:
-Individual funds vs. joint funds.
-How much money should be diverted to bills by each person vs. spent on personal items?
-How will you be splitting the bills?
-Will both of you be chipping in for bills?
-Will both of you be working?
-Who pays when you go out on dates?
As the relationship gets more serious, these topics will become more relevant. So the sooner you get boundaries both of you to agree with, the easier it will be to tackle these topics once they are relevant.
Can boundaries change?
Boundaries are not meant to be set in stone. While some boundaries may be rigid, others may be flexible. Ideally, you will check in with each other every so often and assess the boundaries in place.
Furthermore, events in your life can create the need to adjust some boundaries. Examples of events that can cause this are:
-Moving to a new home
-Starting a new job
-Death of a relative/friend
Boundaries can be as rigid or as flexible as you mutually agree on them to be – all that matters is that both of you are on the same page and actively working toward upholding the boundaries set in place.
If a boundary is not working – talk about it. Boundaries are guidelines, not holy writs.
So what kind of boundaries do you have set in your relationship?
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