Creating Boundaries in Your Relationships

Creating Boundaries in Your Relationships

By: Tori Glaude (@toritaught_u)

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"There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing." – Aristotle

Throughout the years of dating and establishing friendships, I've learned that the quickest way of creating a toxic relationship is lacking boundaries.

One of the unhealthiest relationships came from my ex, crossing the line over and over because I was allowing it. He got comfortable and learned that I would accept his bad behavior. I was capable of dealing with everything, and so I got stuck doing just about everything. From this, I learned that setting boundaries in a relationship are significant in gaining respect and establishing a healthy comfort level.

Setting boundaries mean creating limits for yourself and those around you. The purpose of them is to set a balance between pleasing yourself and pleasing others. You set the standard for how other people treat you, rather than just having high expectations that they will do the "right" thing.

To foster healthy relationships with others, you must create boundaries, and you must enforce them. Someone who truly respects you will respect the rules that you set. If they do not, it is time to find someone else or accept that they are just going to walk all over you when they want to.

What are some of the reasons we fail to enforce our boundaries?

  • It can come from a desire to be liked – we agree to things we don’t want to so that we don’t hurt the other person's feelings and risk them not liking us. The consequence of doing so is this can make someone feel like they can use us.
  • We do it because we want to make the other person happy. Perhaps paying his car payment instead of paying your phone bill is one way to do this. But, what actually happens afterward? He's driving, but your phone gets cut off. If you are constantly running on empty emotionally or financially because of someone else, you are not enforcing proper limits. You have no real right to be upset in this case because you have essentially said to the other person, “What I want doesn’t matter.”
  • We aren’t consistent in following through with the limits we set. Let's say for example that you are the one who always visits your boyfriend or "gets stuck" paying for everything. After feeling unappreciated, you decide to stop being the one who goes out of your way all the time – except, you still go out your way most of the time. What do your actions say to him?

These are all common examples of why boundaries become forgotten words and not hard habits. You must be firm on where you stand. If your partner asks you to do something you're not comfortable with, say “no” without giving in later.

Unhealthy relationships test our boundaries and often result in us breaking them. And, once those boundaries have been overstepped, it’s hard to start reinforcing them. Work out what you are willing to put up with and what you are not. And, ultimately, you must be willing to walk out if your boundaries are not respected.

Determine what you will and won't accept in a relationship and never settle