How to Set Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship

How to Set Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship

Every relationship needs healthy boundaries, and it is ok to set boundaries today and whenever you need to in your relationship. Just because they weren’t set before doesn’t mean it’s too late.

Relationships without boundaries may run into draining situations, create tension, feel resentful and eventually fall apart. And we definitely don’t want that to happen. Healthy boundaries are known to make relationships stronger (something we all want for our relationships).

This article will explore the different boundaries in a healthy relationship and examples.

A relationship that has communicated boundaries means that each of you knows how to love, respect, and value your partner.

Boundaries allow your partners to love you the best way you feel loved. And to honor your individuality, which is an essential part of having a healthy, conscious relationship.

What does it mean to set boundaries in a relationship?

Having boundaries in your relationship means that your partner knows what you’re comfortable with and not comfortable with within different areas of your life.

If you’re like most couples that I’ve worked with as a Mental and Emotional Wellness Coach, you’ll find that you each have different sets of boundaries.

So, you cannot simply assume that your limits are sufficient. You’ll want to ensure that you know your partner’s boundaries, as well as your own, and vice versa.

What boundaries should be set in a relationship?

Now, let’s break down four different categories for boundaries in a relationship. You will also learn examples of each one to understand how they each differentiate.

Physical Boundaries

A physical boundary includes not just your body and how you want to be touched or by whom you’d like to be touched, but also your personal space and needs for autonomy.

When determining your physical boundaries, you’ll want to think about situations like public affection, affection when around your family, how your partner should touch you when you feel sad.

You also will want to discuss the balance between much you want to be your person and how much of self you want to merge into your relationship.

Examples of Physical Boundaries

Scenario 1: Your partner might require very little personal space. They love being where you are and doing what you do. It’s part of their nature. But, for you, you might need more alone time, more space that’s your very own (even if you live together), and time where you are doing your activities and hobbies.

In a case like this, you’d have a boundary that you prefer to have Saturdays on your own, and you might also designate a space (such as a corner, chair, extra bedroom) in your home that is solely yours to have quiet and alone time as you need.

Scenario 2: You’re someone that does not like being touched often. But, your partner’s love language is touch, so she usually likes to show love by randomly giving you touches during the day, except that it feels irritating to be touched so often to you.

Though she’s giving you loving touches, you can have physical boundaries as an individual in the relationship. You can, for example, validate that your partner likes to show love by contact, thank your partner for that love, and ask your partner to touch you half as much since that feels better to you.

Emotional Boundaries

An emotional boundary is set around your feelings, separately from the feelings of others.

Think of an emotional boundary of what you are willing to take in energetically and emotionally. For example, what actions (from others and by self) affect your emotions are ok or not when engaging in your relationship.

Examples of Emotional Boundaries

Scenario 1: You work a job that tasks your mind and emotions. When you come home, you’re exhausted and need to care for yourself by relaxing and enjoying a quiet, calming time.

On the other hand, your partner comes home very energized from her job, where she works with all kinds of people, and she can’t wait to tell you all the people’s stories of the day.

Except that for you, hearing the ups and downs of people right after your workday feels even more emotionally draining.

An emotional boundary for this situation might include asking your partner not to wait to tell you any stories until dinner time.

Scenario 2: You grew up in a family that yelled. For example, whenever your parents fought, they shouted. But, you now know better ways to communicate, and your preference includes a conversation that provides validation, understanding, empathy, and active listening.

So, you create an emotional boundary in your relationship for acceptable ways to talk to each other during moments of conflict. You do not accept yelling, shouting, or disrespect from your partner as a way to protect your emotional wellness.

Sexual Boundaries

So many couples establish a sexual relationship without setting sexual boundaries. And what is a sexual boundary? It’s the rules of engagement regarding your sexual being and desires.

The good news is that it’s never too late to set sexual boundaries. These include how you want to be made love to, whether you are open to kinks or experimentation, toys, as well as how often you’d like to engage in sexual activities, and what time of the day works best for you.

Sexual boundaries also include the way you’d like to be kissed, touched sexually, and even what you wear and don’t wear when being sexual.

Examples of Sexual Boundaries

Scenario 1: You’re a mother of small children who are on you in some way most of the day, so by the end of the day, you feel touched out. However, by the time your partner comes home from work, he’s ready to be touched by you and also to touch you sexually. All that is sweet, but to you, it feels like nails on a chalkboard, even though you dearly love your partner.

You’re ready to set a sexual boundary. Your boundary is that you’d like to have some alone, untouched time after your partner gets home so that you can reset from the long day of mothering the kids. And before any sexual touches, you’d like first to connect through conversation with your partner.

Scenario 2: Your partner is sexually adventurous and wants to try her favorite kinks with you. But, on the other hand, you feel more comfortable with a conservative sexual relationship. You were initially open to exploring, but it never felt comfortable (let alone good).

It’s time to set a sexual boundary, and you determine that you are not comfortable with kinks and want to enjoy a traditional sexual relationship with your partner.

Time Boundaries

To live a life that has a good rhythm and flow, you’ll need to have time boundaries.

A time boundary is anything relating to spending your time, including work, hobbies, personal life, time with your partner, and others.

Resentfulness and depletion are some of the results of not having good time boundaries. So, be sure to consider these when you create boundaries for yourself.

Examples of Time Boundaries

Scenario 1: You love your work, but you also see that the additional hours you work at your job are starting to take over your yoga practice time. And your yoga practice is also how you stay grounded in your relationship with yourself and your partner.

With this knowledge, you create a boundary of ending your workday by 5 pm each day so that you can make your 5:30 pm yoga class.

Scenario 2: You enjoy many different activities, mainly doing them solo. But you also have a relationship and want to make sure you invest time into building your connection with your partner.

Because the growth of your relationship matters to you, you create a boundary to reduce the time spent in one of your activities to make time for your partner.

The Takeaway for Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship

Healthy, conscious relationships have clear physical, emotional, sexual, and time boundaries. It starts with each of you creating boundaries and having relationship boundaries.

You’ll find that your boundaries can change with time, and that’s perfectly ok. What matters is that you connect with yourself and your needs enough to know when you need to shift a boundary for your betterment.

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