boundary setting in relationships (If you don’t, They Will!)
Boundary setting in relationships is important if you want to live the carefree lifestyle of your dreams. It is important for you to have a good understanding of what your expectations are for the people closest to you. It is also important that the people closest to you understand your expectations of them.
The interesting thing about setting boundaries is that if you don’t set them, the rest of the world will set them for you. The world will try to tell you and those around you what is acceptable. It will tell you how to live your life and how to maintain (or not maintain) your relationships.
It isn’t possible to live life on your terms while other people in your life are doing the boundary setting for you. If other people are setting your boundaries, this means that they are telling you how you should live your life. And the only person who should be doing that is you!
It’s time for you to take charge of your life and protect the relationships that are the most important to you. Learning how to set relationship boundaries is a crucial component to your happiness and overall wellbeing. These tips will get you started right now!
What Does Boundary Setting in Relationships Mean?
Boundary setting in relationships means that you are making the decision to either allow or not allow certain behaviors in your life. It means clearly outlining what is acceptable in your relationships and what is not. It also means communicating this to the people in your life (this is the hard part.. more on this later!).
Whether we know it or not, we all set boundaries for our relationships in our minds. We don’t always tell people that come into our lives what our boundaries are, but we do set them. For example, when I meet new people, I don’t say “Hi! I’m Cassandra! I don’t think that it’s okay for my friends to show up at my house whenever they want”. However, this is a value I hold and it is important to me.
As an analogy, boundaries can be thought of as an invisible line. If the invisible line is crossed by someone, this means that they have done something that you will not tolerate and your boundaries have been crossed.
The goal is to have clear expectations for all relationships in your life. Once you have boundaries set for your relationships, and you inform people of these boundaries, the idea is that people won’t cross them. This means that you can continue to live in your comfortable, happy place, and enjoy your friendships and family.
Unfortunately, as you will see, this is sometimes easier said than done!
How to Set Relationship Boundaries
If you reading this, there is probably an important relationship in your life that is causing you stress or making you feel uneasy. Relationships that make us feel like this tend to be important ones that we want to maintain in some capacity. If they weren’t, we would just end them. However, this is not the approach you want to take if you value your close relationships and you want to focus on how to set relationship boundaries.
Instead, start by thinking about a specific relationship and what it would take to make it less stressful. How can you feel less anxious and less overwhelmed, but still maintain that relationship? This will be the starting point for boundary setting in this relationship.
What would give you a sense of peace in this relationship? What specific boundaries could you set that would help you to feel more in control of your life and your relationship? Think about what you want and need to accomplish by boundary setting in this relationship. Use your personal values to help drive your thoughts here. It’s okay to start small and grow from there, but if you never start then you won’t get anywhere.
For example, you may have a friend who doesn’t have children and tends to drop by unannounced at 8 pm on a school night while you are putting your kids to bed. If this is a worthwhile relationship that you want to maintain, you might start to think about setting up a scheduled time that works better for both of you to get together.
There will be many more complicated relationships in our lives that this example won’t illustrate, but this will show you the kind of thinking that happens when you start setting boundaries in your relationships.
Boundary setting in relationships is an important part of maintaining healthy relationships with the most important people in our lives. It keeps our relationships strong and reduces conflict. If everyone understands the expectations and boundaries that are set, there is no reason for feelings to get hurt!
Trust Yourself and Your Boundary Setting in Your Relationships
The only person who knows you well enough to set boundaries for your relationships, is you. The only person capable of understanding your wants and needs in your relationships is you. And the only person that can truly prioritize these wants and needs is, once again, you.
Are you seeing the trend here? Boundary setting in relationships starts with you. You are the only person who truly understands how you want to live your life.
The things that we value in our lives play an important role in how we decide to live our lives. The boundaries that we set in our relationships also depend on our values.
For example, you may value the thoughts and opinions of the people close to you. If you do, you may not do a lot boundary setting in your relationships. You may appreciate when people share their perspectives on the things you do, or tell you how to make certain decisions.
However, if you value the freedom to form your own perspectives and make your own decisions, you are probably someone who would like to do a lot of boundary setting in your relationships.
Neither of these approaches is more right or wrong than the other. Only you know your values and what is important for you and your family. As a result, only you can decide how to set relationship boundaries in your relationships.
The tricky part is to make sure that you are being honest with yourself and being true to your values. One of the main reasons we feel stressed in our relationships is because we don’t communicate expectations. And when expectations aren’t met, it is difficult to discuss them without worrying about hurting feelings.
This brings us to our next point!
The Three C’s of Boundary Setting in Relationships
One of the key components to a healthy relationship is boundary setting. If you want to feel comfortable in your relationships, the fact is, you will need to think about how to set relationship boundaries at some point. However, doing this isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be downright hard.
This is where you need the 3 C’s of Boundary Setting in Relationships: Courage, Communication, and Consistency.
Being honest with yourself and declaring that there is a relationship in your life that needs boundary setting takes courage. It can be scary to think that someone in your life that is close to you is making you unhappy. What will happen if you bring this up to them? Will you lose a friend or loved one?
Setting your boundaries might anger, frustrate, or sadden the people in your relationships. This is what makes it so hard to do! After all, who wants to hurt the people closest to them?
However, if there is a relationship that is causing you stress, in order to ensure the relationship stays healthy, you need to find the courage to discuss your boundaries with the other person.
Good communication is essential for any healthy relationship. In order to ensure that boundary setting in relationships is effective, you need to honestly and openly share your boundaries with the other person.
Again, this takes courage to step outside of your comfort zone. You may be rejected, and you may be judged, but these reactions just tell you that efforts to salvage the relationship aren’t being put in by both people. In the end, it is better to be vulnerable and live true to yourself.
Communication is important to ensure that each person’s expectations of the relationship are the same. If they are not, these relationships are the ones where it will be the most important to set boundaries.
While it is hard, it is important that you understand that it is not your job to make other people happy with your life choices. Letting other people (even important people in your life) micromanage your life choices will lead to you feeling bullied, stressed, uncertain, and anxious in your life. This will leave you feeling unfulfilled and overwhelmed.
You need to remember that boundaries need to be respected by both people in a healthy relationship. People who get angry when you set boundaries do not respect your boundaries. Boundary setting in relationships should not lead to anger and frustration. It should be met with understanding and support. These are reactions that come from people who respect us.
People’s negative reactions to boundary setting are not for you to own. It is not your responsibility to take ownership over others’ happiness.
Remember, you are living your life and they are living theirs. You have the right to set your own boundaries. You are enough without the need for validation from others!
Those who truly love and care about you will understand. If they persist and still don’t accept your boundaries, it may be time to consider thinking about whether or not this person is still important to continue to have boundary debates with.
Something important to remember is that everyone who is in your life right now, won’t necessarily be in your life journey forever. And that is okay. It might be tough to think that you won’t be close with your best friend, spouse, or even your parents for life.
However, if these close relationships are causing you unreasonable stress because of boundaries being crossed, you may find not maintaining those relationships to be a better approach.
Be sure that you think through your choices here. Will there be a fallout? Will it be a fallout that you can deal with and won’t regret? Is it the right thing for you and your closest relationships? While only you can decide, you may want to consider the help of a counsellor or a trusted friend who understands your values.
Setting boundaries looks very different depending on the relationship you are creating the boundaries for. Are you looking to set boundaries with your significant other? Children? Your parents? In-laws? Boss? Friends? There isn’t a checkbox of what boundaries should be for each relationship in your life. Even if there were, you wouldn’t want to use it! Remember, only you and your values can tell you what boundary setting will look like in your relationships.
You need to think long and hard about the behaviors that you will and won’t tolerate for each of the relationships in your life. You then need to have the courage to communicate with your closest relationships. And remember other people have boundaries as well! Open communication will help make sure that you are respectful of your friends’ and families’ boundaries too.
There are some people that will push the boundaries you set. Guaranteed. And if you aren’t consistent with your expectations, you will find it harder to maintain your boundaries.
Some people love to see what they can get away with. They love to test boundaries!
Take speed limits for example. Speed limits are boundaries that are posted to keep people safe on our roads. Now, there are always people who think they can go 5 miles per hour over the speed limit. This is only slightly pushing the boundaries..right? What about 10 miles per hour? Will that push the boundaries too much, or am I still safe to push a bit further? 15 miles per hour anyone?
There will always be people in your life who test your metaphorical speed limits. They want to see what you will do if they push the boundaries a little or a lot. These types of people want to know if it is possible for them to push so hard that they break your boundaries all together.
If you don’t take ownership of your life and consistently maintain your boundaries, eventually, you will give in. And you will give up on maintaining your boundaries altogether. Letting this happen will put you right back where you started.
If you find yourself feeling pressure to compromise your boundary setting in your relationships, it might be a good time to reevaluate your relationships. It will be up to you to set boundaries that you actually plan on maintaining. You will need to be consistent and make it well known to others that you will not accept or tolerate your boundaries being pushed.
Much like police issuing tickets for speed limits being pushed, there might need to be consequences when yours are pushed as well. Wouldn’t it be great if we could ticket people for not following our rules? Some people would be deep in debt for boundary pushing!
We want to be happy. But we also want to make other people happy, especially our loved ones. We want everyone else to feel perfectly content with us and our decisions all day, every day. This means that we have the support of our loved ones.
But guess what? You can’t make everyone happy, nor should you want to! Even if you try, there will always be a new standard and a new level of happy for you to strive to in everyone else’s opinion. Instead of trying to make everyone else happy, remember that your happiness is the only happiness you are in control of.
You need to do what you have to do to prioritize your needs and the needs of your immediate family. Even if this means you are going to upset, anger, or hurt people in your life that you care about. You need to have the courage to set your boundaries and communicate your limits to others. You also need to be consistent with maintaining your boundaries.
Boundaries keep us in our safe, comfortable, and happy place. That’s why we need them, and that’s why we create them in the first place. Be courageous. Set your boundaries. Be consistent, speak up, and let other people know that you plan to hold your ground. And always be ready to hand out a speeding ticket if you have to.
Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family on social media! If you know someone in need of some boundary setting help, this could be the courage and motivation they need to make a change!