What are Healthy Boundaries?
Boundaries are your personal guidelines and limits in a relationship/interaction with another person. They can be physical or emotional, firm or flexible; but ultimately they show others how you want to be treated in your relationship with them. They foster healthy communication as well as respect between people.
What Does a Relationship Without Boundaries Look Like?
A relationship without boundaries can quickly turn unpleasant and chaotic. Feelings of disrespect and resentment can fester when people feel their needs aren’t being met or that they are always appeasing someone else. A relationship that is unbalanced or abusive in some nature is usually one that is lacking healthy boundaries.
How Can I Establish Boundaries in My Relationships?
There are a few ways to respectfully yet effectively establish healthy boundaries:
- Be aware of your likes and dislikes and what makes you uncomfortable when interacting with others.
- Clearly vocalize your boundaries so people can understand what you want or don’t want. Even if you’re close with someone, they still need guidance in how they should respectfully treat you.
- Always reinforce your boundaries whenever they are challenged. No one will respect your boundaries if you don’t respect them and follow through with what you originally enforced. Meaning what you say and saying what you mean is so important here.
- Recognize when your boundaries need to change. You can’t be too flexible or too rigid in your boundaries all the time. Knowing when to give a little or change your boundaries is just as important as knowing when to not budge on them. Find a balance.
- Show people how you respect your boundaries by listening and respecting theirs. Mirror the behavior you want others to repeat in their relationship with you.
What Are the Benefits of Establishing Boundaries?
When you establish and enforce your boundaries you are able to develop healthy relationships filled with love and respect. Knowing and reinforcing your boundaries allows you to quickly recognize when someone isn’t respecting you which will help you address unwanted behavior. Healthy boundaries also allows you to be a part of a relationship or group without you totally losing yourself in it. Your needs are met while still fostering a sense of belonging.
If you feel that you are unable to establish healthy boundaries or that you are always overstepping the boundaries of others, here are a few websites to look to for help:
10 Way to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries
A Checklist on Boundaries in a Relationship
You can also contact the therapists of Philadelphia MFT for more information or to schedule an appointment to help you on your journey to a more satisfying and respectful relationship.
This topic of the week was written by Alanna Gardner, MFT