How to Create Healthy Relationship Boundaries

The You’ve probably heard of people setting healthy boundaries, but what exactly does that entail? To begin with, a healthy boundary can appear in a variety of ways. If a friend wants you to stay out later than you’d like and you decide to go home instead, that’s a healthy boundary. If your significant other has become overly demanding of your time and you request some privacy, that is also a healthy boundary.

It can be difficult to know when and how to set healthy boundaries. When you examine your values and core beliefs, it becomes easier to put safeguards in place to protect your physical, mental, and emotional health. When you do this, you will almost always receive overwhelming support. However, along the way, you may discover who your true allies are.

Karen Salerno, MSSA, LISW-S, a social worker, explains why healthy boundaries are important and how to establish them regardless of the type of relationship you have.

What exactly are healthy boundaries?Boundaries

Healthy boundaries are an important tool for ensuring that your needs are met. They enable us to:

• Keep our identity.

• Prevent others from exploiting or manipulating us.

• Encourage healthy relationships.

• Allow us to be assertive as needed.

• Encourage us to set personal goals and develop empathy for others.

“Boundaries are the framework we set for ourselves on how we want to be treated by others and how we want to be treated by others,” Salerno explains. “It establishes how you want to be treated, promotes physical and emotional well-being, and respects your needs as well as the needs of the other person in a relationship.”

So, if a coworker is getting too personal with you at work and making you uncomfortable, you may want to stop the behavior and explain what you expect and respect. The same is true for any family member who may overstay their welcome during a family gathering. You are the master of your fate, and you have the right to set healthy boundaries for your piness and well-being.

If you’re ever in doubt about whether a boundary is healthy or not, remember that healthy boundaries will never attempt to assert control over someone else. Healthy boundaries, on the other hand, highlight your personal needs while also acknowledging the needs of those around you.

How do I begin to establish boundaries?

The first step in establishing healthy boundaries is identifying your needs and what you require to be healthy, have good self-esteem, and maintain your sense of identity. Consider making a list of your core values and beliefs to accomplish this: What do you require to be content? What gives you a sense of security? How much time and effort are you willing to devote to various people and situations?

“It’s critical to establish healthy boundaries early on so that people know how to best communicate and interact with you,” Salerno advises. “You should also make certain that you stick to your boundaries.” If you don’t act on them, other people may lose trust in your boundary setting.”

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The first step in setting boundaries is to trust and believe that you have the authority to do so.Boundaries

“A lot of us grew up in families with no or blurred boundaries, so we don’t always know that we have the right to set our babies,” Salerno explains. “If setting boundaries is new to you, I would recommend beginning with small changes to help build confidence when setting larger boundaries in the future.”

Setting healthy boundaries can be frightening if we are afraid of confrontation. You may be afraid of rejection or feel guilty for setting boundaries, but it’s important to remember that it’s your right to make space for the things that will make you happy, free, and safe all at the same time. Knowing how to separate your feelings from those of others can be difficult if you are a people pleaser or are in a codependent relationship.

But, as Salerno assures, “you can start this practice at any time, and the more you practice, the better you’ll get.”

Also, you can adapt. Relationships undergo similar transformations and alterations as your life does. It’s never too late to get back on track and set boundaries that make sense at the time you’re setting them if you ever get the feeling that something is off.

Some examples of where solid limits should be established are provided below.

Intimate relationship limits

It’s natural to think of romantic or sexual relationships as the first context in which healthy boundaries are needed. The more time you spend together on a date, the more you can learn about each other’s personalities and values, and the more you can see if you’re a good fit for one another. Healthy boundaries in romantic and sexual relationships usually boil down to figuring out what you’re willing to let someone do to your time, energy, body, and space.

Respect for one another’s personal space and independence is a hallmark of a healthy relationship, according to Salerno.

If you find yourself at your significant other’s home and don’t feel like spending the night, it’s important to establish a healthy boundary by deciding what time you’ll leave. Aside from the frequency with which you communicate via text or phone, the length of time you spend together, and the type of sexual activity you engage in, other healthy boundaries can be established.

These dynamics may change in the future. You or your partner may even change your minds about some of these limits, but the key is to talk about it before it becomes an obvious problem. It’s also crucial that you uphold the limits you set for yourself.

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Salerno says, “No matter how well you know someone, you can never be aware of what their thoughts are or what their comfort level is.” It’s important to check in with your partner regularly to learn if anything has changed for either of you and to confirm where they stand on certain topics and issues because “their boundaries and comfort level may shift based on what’s going on in their life.”

Limits with familyBoundaries

Setting healthy boundaries can feel strange and wrong at first, but trust us when we say they’re just as important to establish with mom, dad, siblings, or even that one uncle who likes to go a little too hard on difficult political beliefs at the holiday dinner party.

“It can be difficult to establish a healthy boundary if you grew up with someone who was an authoritative figure over you,” Salerno says. “But it’s OK to set these boundaries because you’re committing to yourself, respecting yourself, and it’s assisting you in maintaining your sense of identity.”

If you have helicopter parents who come over unexpectedly or call you multiple times a day, and these behaviors make you uncomfortable, it’s OK to express your feelings. You can collaborate to find a healthy compromise that works for both of you without leaving either side feeling frustrated or neglected.

This concept also applies to difficult, uncomfortable discussions in which one person forces their religious beliefs, political ideology, or words of wisdom when they are not wanted or warranted. If something makes you uneasy, speak up before it gets out of hand. If it continues despite your change requests, setting limits on how much time you spend with that person may be necessary. Setting these boundaries will aid in avoiding burnout while also reinforcing who you are as a person and what you require to stay healthy.

“If you don’t set boundaries and you’re constantly letting other people dictate your time or what you’re doing, it can read to a sense of exhaustion and burnout across the board,” Salerno says.

Friendship boundaries

Even when it isn’t, setting boundaries with friends can feel very personal. Consider this: some of us share everything we have with our friends. When we’re having fun, the boundaries we impose on our friendships often fall by the wayside. However, a healthy boundary can manifest itself in unexpected ways. Maybe you told your best friend an intimate secret and asked them not to tell anyone. Respecting the request and expecting it to be met is a healthy boundary.

Or perhaps you’ve gone out for a few drinks and want to leave early, but your friend wants to stay a little longer. Setting a healthy boundary and returning home when you’re ready is critical. Maybe you help your friend find a way to get home, or you agree to check in with each other later. It is up to you how you handle it, but it is critical that you set these boundaries despite your fear that it will jeopardize your friendship. After all, a true friend will understand the importance of respecting your health, happiness, and safety.

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“Setting boundaries allows you to get rid of toxic relationships that you may not have even realized you had,” Salerno says. “If people don’t respect your boundaries, you quickly realize that maybe some of your friends don’t respect you.”

Workplace boundariesBoundaries

Can you establish healthy boundaries at work, even if you’re dealing with a toxic workplace or a difficult boss? Yes, but it may require a bit more strategy and collaboration between you and your leadership team.

“It can be difficult for an employee to try to set boundaries if their supervisor or manager does not model healthy boundaries,” Salerno says. Assume you’re putting in multiple late nights and working on weekends. If you’re experiencing workplace burnout, you should talk to your manager or team leader about alternative ways to make your schedule more mutually beneficial.

If you have difficult coworkers who are making you uncomfortable and creating a stressful work environment, you can set healthy boundaries with them directly or by going to your human resources department and determining other solutions. At the end of the day, the key is to ensure that everyone you come into contact with at work understands what is and is not acceptable in terms of your physical space, emotional health, and mental capacity.

“You can set boundaries so that you don’t overcommit yourself, or you can block time on your calendar to be productive,” Salerno says. “What’s important is having a conversation with your manager about the expectations of your job and creating boundaries based on that conversation to help you meet your performance goals.”

Limits with strangers

Finally, it is possible (and critical) to establish healthy boundaries with almost anyone, even strangers. Setting a healthy boundary may look like politely asking someone to step back and give you some breathing room if they are invading your personal space in the grocery store or line for an amusement park ride. If someone becomes aggressive toward you, it may appear that you should step back and seek assistance from someone nearby.Boundaries

“You set healthy boundaries based on how you’re feeling in the moment and knowing how someone else’s actions will affect you,” Salerno says. “If you’ve ever felt unhappy, unsafe, or pressured to do or feel something, it’s time to consider your options, figure out what will make you feel better, and set or adjust your boundaries.”

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