This, however, is where the challenge comes in. While some people think that emotional boundaries are all that should be set in a relationship, some others don’t understand the concept of boundaries in relationships and why you must set and enforce them with your partner.
Again, some people worry that by setting boundaries in their romantic relationships, they may be sending the wrong signals to their partners, the signals that they are unavailable and emotionally uptight. Anyways, this article aims to help provide some context to these conversations.
In this article, we will shed a little light on why boundaries are important in a relationship and how setting boundaries in relationships can help preserve your relationship.
What are relationship boundaries
Simply put, boundaries are limits you put in place in various areas of your life to protect your mental health and sanity.
Wikipedia defines personal boundaries as,
“The practice of openly communicating and asserting personal values as a way to preserve and protect against having them compromised or violated.”
With these definitions in mind, relationship boundaries refer to the limits all partners in a romantic relationship place in various aspects of their lives in a bid to control how they are treated in the relationship and ensure that their mental health is protected.
While this may seem like an unnecessary thing to be put in place in a relationship, understanding the types of boundaries in a relationship is key to preserving that relationship for a long time.
Let’s take a look at why boundaries are vital in romantic relationships.
Why are relationship boundaries important
Is it not better to play it by ear and allow my partner to feel free in the relationship? Won’t they feel as though I am doing too much if I draw a line they aren’t meant to cross, even in the relationship?
Setting healthy boundaries in a relationship helps to look out for yourself even as you prioritize your partner and their wellbeing. With healthy boundaries in relationships, you learn to say no to things that won’t work for you and not feel guilty about doing so.
2. Relationship becomes a safe space
Your relationship becomes safer and provides a more conducive environment for you to thrive when you understand your partner’s boundaries and respect them, and they do the same for you as well.
3. You are able to keep a balance
Healthy boundaries in relationships help you to have a life of your own, and they make sure that your entire personal life doesn’t get weaved around your partner and the relationship.
With healthy boundaries in place in a relationship, all parties experience a higher sense of self-esteem. This is because everyone knows that they are being true to their original selves.
7 types of boundaries you must set in your relationship.
Now that we have established the types of boundaries in relationships and why setting boundaries is vital for your relationship to thrive, here are the 7 types of boundaries you must set in your relationship.
1. Physical boundaries in relationships
Is there a need to define how physical your partner can get with you in a relationship? Is it necessary to tell them that they would have to stop doing some things after a specific point?
Physical boundaries are an integral part of the boundaries you must set in your relationship as someone who intends to enjoy a happy and healthy relationship for a long time to come.
Physical boundaries are those limits you place in the relationship concerning how your partner interacts with your body, your privacy, and your personal space.
It encapsulates salient points like how, when, and where your partner is allowed to touch you, whether or not you like Public Displays of Affection (PDAs), and also how your partner comes into or stays away from your personal space.
Some people like their partners to get hands-on with them in public. They enjoy the attention they get from their partner when they take a walk on the beach, they love to hold hands in public, and they wouldn’t mind if their partner were to steal a kiss from them in a public park.
If you don’t make it a point of duty to define where you fall into, you may find yourself sending mixed signals to your partner or having to deal with discomfort and fear every time they make a move on you in public.
This is one of the major types of boundaries in relationships, and if you don’t define what sexual boundaries mean to you, your relationship may be affected big time.
Sexual boundaries refer to what is acceptable and unacceptable for you as far as sexual intimacy with your partner is concerned. This is especially necessary for couples who are sexually active because if you aren’t comfortable with your partner in bed, this can cause a strain on your relationship.
Take into cognizance your fantasies and sexual preferences.
If you have experienced any form of sexual abuse/harassment in the past, you must let your partner in on them. Healthy sexual boundaries in relationships are characterized by mutual consent, total agreement, and a clear understanding of what is acceptable in your sex life as a couple.
Intellectual boundaries in relationships speak of ideas, concepts, and mindsets. As individuals with different realities and environments, you may see life from a different perspective than your partner. As a result, there will always be differences and varying opinions about the issues that come up in your everyday lives.
When an intellectual boundary is in place, your sense of self-respect as an individual is preserved because your partner would prefer to converse with you than to talk down on you when your opinions vary.
Again, intellectual boundaries are necessary when you begin feeling as though your partner doesn’t value your opinions and feelings on the issues that affect you as an individual or the relationship.
If they have built a habit of making unilateral decisions on your behalf, that may be a sign that you need to understand and enforce this type of boundaries in relationships.
Money! This is where the disagreements tend to escalate.
Is my partner’s money not mine? Why shouldn’t I be able to access their funds anytime and anyhow I want? Should I have to obtain permission from them every time I need to use their credit card at the mall?
These and more are some of the common questions partners ask in their relationship. While it is great to have a partner who has given you complete access to their finances, you must understand the place of financial boundaries in a relationship.
Financial boundaries explain how the money in the relationship is spent and what money can be spent on. With this in place, you can decide whether you want to operate a joint account or separate accounts.
Setting financial boundaries helps you to keep tabs on your spending habits and also ensures that neither of you gets hurt because of how the other spends money in the relationship.
Think of setting financial boundaries in your relationship as having a financial accountability partner in your partner. This mindset change can radically alter how you approach the subject of financial boundaries in your relationship.
Communication is an important part of setting financial boundaries in your relationship. If your boundaries are going to be respected and upheld by your partner, they need to understand your financial goals and aspirations, so you can comfortably work together toward the desired goal.
Suggested Video: Should you combine finances?
5. Personal and emotional boundaries in relationships
Emotional boundaries talk about how you feel in the relationship, your emotions, and how you interact with them, coupled with how you allow these emotions to affect the mood and tone of your relationship at every given time.
Emotional boundaries are important in your relationship because just like yourself, your partner is a human being who can get emotional and who has feelings at the same time. With emotional boundaries in place, you can protect your emotions in the relationship while giving your partner enough space to protect their emotions and feelings as well.
To set effective emotional boundaries in relationships, you must first be in touch with your emotions. You must understand your temperaments and the type of person you are. What are the things that turn you on?
While setting up time boundaries, it is also vital to put digital expressions of communication in context. Do you wait around the phone expecting a call from your partner every day by a specific time?
How do you feel if they get carried away and do not call, return your call, or reply to your text within a space of time? It is also necessary that you talk these over with your partner. However, ensure that your time boundaries are reasonable and attainable by your partner.
It is almost not feasible to expect that your partner (who occupies a strategic role in their workplace) should always be on speed dial to take your calls and return them when you call during work hours.
With these types of boundaries in relationships, you would discover that your relationship would be more enjoyable as time passes.
Tips for setting healthy boundaries in relationships
After identifying all 7 types of boundaries you must set in your relationship, here are a few tips that would help you to be successful in setting healthy boundaries in your relationship.
It is not just enough to want to set boundaries. You must know who you are and have a clear picture of your identity if you want to set the right kinds of boundaries in your relationship.
Communication is vital as you set up boundaries in your relationship. All the boundaries in the world will do you no good if your partner doesn’t even know they exist. The way to let them know of the existence of such boundaries is by communicating with them.
After setting those boundaries, knowing how to compromise in your relationship would play a major role in getting your partner to stick to your boundaries. Since you have boundaries, remember that your partner is human as well and would have their boundaries too. Compromise is the process by which you make some effort to accommodate their boundaries as well.
Don’t make it all about you.
There are many types of boundaries in relationships. If you want to experience a happy relationship, it is vital that you critically evaluate all 7 we have discussed and figure out how to set boundaries in your relationship.
Along the line, you may encounter challenges as you try to enforce these boundaries in your relationship. If this happens to you, you need to invest some time in finding the perfect therapist for your relationship.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.