How to set healthy boundaries in your relationship

Expressing your needs to your partner when you know they won’t be met is a daunting task.

If you know a conflict is just beyond the words “I need more alone time every week” or “I don’t want to be intimate every day,” that impending friction may be enough to deter you. to tell them.

But, if communicated with compassion and honesty, boundaries can actually strengthen a relationship, says Lisa Bobby, psychologist and clinical director of Development of self-help and coaching in Denver, Colorado. They can also help decrease your anxiety.

A boundary isn’t about telling your partner what to do or change, but about what you’re going to do for your own health, she says.

“You set limits for yourself,” she says. “You don’t control other people’s behavior. You tell people what you will or won’t tolerate with the choices you make.”

Here’s why it’s so hard to set boundaries and how to do it.

It can be hard to set boundaries in a relationship

If you have a partner, you might feel responsible for their happiness. It’s something you have to unlearn, says Bobby.

“Setting healthy boundaries is about letting go of the idea that you have to deal with someone else’s emotions,” says Bobby. “Your job is to take care of yourself emotionally and let others take care of themselves emotionally.”

Your job is to take care of yourself emotionally and let others take care of themselves emotionally.

That doesn’t mean you won’t experience pushback, she says. In fact, you should expect it.

“That’s what makes it so hard for people to set healthy boundaries, that self-imposed obligation that others have to feel good or be happy,” she says. “If you want to set healthy boundaries for yourself, that’s not always compatible with making others feel good.”

You should also expect that if you are in a “system” with someone who is not in a healthy place, the “system will protest”.

For example, a partner who drinks too much to cope with stress and expects you to join him might try to guilt you into going out with him every time he has had a bad day, despite your preferences. . Know that it can happen – and you can say “no”.

“The system will really try to get that person back to an unhealthy place,” she says. “You don’t have to participate, but expect it.”

There is nothing wrong with saying “No”. I can’t.’

Your limit is about your own action, so vocalizing it should focus on what you’re going to do. For example, if your partner insists on being invited with your friends but you would benefit from some one-on-one time with your social group, you can say:

“I understand that you would like to be included, and sometimes I am happy to do so, but it is important for me to have time alone with my friends, so I will not invite you every time.”

You can also give a little more context, she says. For example, if your partner wants you to text back while you’re at work but you don’t, you can say:

“I hear you prefer when I text you, but I realize I’m having trouble concentrating. I know you get upset when I don’t answer you and it makes me anxious and I have to so set that limit while I’m at work.”

If you want to set healthy boundaries for yourself, that’s not always compatible with other people’s feelings.

Acknowledge their feelings and let them know that you care about them, she says, but that your health is also important. And remember to stand firm on what you need.

“People, especially women, really feel like they have to stand up for themselves and they can be very reluctant to set healthy boundaries,” she says. There’s nothing wrong with saying “no, I can’t do that”.

It is important to be thoughtful and selective

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