In any healthy relationship, communication is key. This phrase is tossed around a lot, but it’s true — any kind of relationship requires open, honest expressions of feelings and mutual respect of what is being communicated. Early on in a relationship, it’s important to communicate your boundaries. Boundaries help to define what someone is comfortable with and how they would like to be treated by others. In order to talk about and establish boundaries with a partner, it’s important to think to yourself first about your comfort levels, feelings, and values. Once you have done that, you can be clear with your partner about what you need, what you want, and your limits. Remember that communication is a skill, and establishing boundaries is learned and takes practice. Boundaries also deserve to be respected, no matter how big or small they may seem.
So, how do we talk about and navigate boundaries within our relationships? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Be open about your thoughts and feelings. Vulnerability can be hard, but being honest and respectful when sharing your thoughts is essential in any healthy relationship. Your partner can’t guess your feelings, so being open about them can help you avoid misunderstandings.
- Communicate when boundaries are overstepped. If your partner does something you are not comfortable with, you can say something like “hey, please don’t do that again” or “I’m not comfortable with you doing that”. Restating your boundaries is part of an ongoing conversation about comfort levels.
- Ask when you’re unclear about a boundary. It’s important to respect each other’s boundaries, so if you’re ever unsure if something is ok, ask and never assume. You can say “are you okay with this?” or “do you mind if I do this?”.
- Recognize that boundaries change. Is there something that you may have been comfortable with in the past that you are no longer comfortable with now? That is completely ok, and your partner should respect that. Boundaries can change at any point, and these changes should always be communicated.
- You should not fear your partner’s reaction to you setting a boundary. If you feel this way, it is a warning sign of abuse.
To learn more about setting and communicating boundaries, visit: https://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/what-are-my-boundaries/