If you want to enjoy your relationship, there are signs of unhealthy boundaries that you need to look out for and nip in the bud. This is because if you don’t find these signs early, unhealthy boundaries in relationships can cause you more harm than you could imagine.
This article will go over everything you need to know about unhealthy boundaries, including how they affect your relationship and what you must do if you are in a relationship characterized by unhealthy boundaries.
The Oxford Dictionary defines a boundary as the line marking the limits of an area or a dividing line. According to a report documented in the Women Advocates resource, a boundary is a limit or space between yourself and another person. At this clear point, you begin, and they end. Wikipedia reports 5 types of boundaries, including personal boundaries, boundaries of the mind, symbolic boundaries, professional boundaries, and boundary-work.
A quick look at these definitions reveals that for an individual to function effectively in any type of relationship, they must have put strong boundaries in place.
This is because when there is a lack of boundaries in relationships, your mental health may differ due to what your partner does to you (knowingly or unknowingly).
With these in perspective, what are unhealthy boundaries?
Unhealthy boundaries in relationships occur when one or both parties in a romantic relationship have complete disrespect for their values and the ideals of their partner, the result of which may include a potentially abusive relationship and emotional trauma.
Weak boundaries in relationships, more often than not, lead to many emotional and relational complications.
15 signs of unhealthy boundaries in relationships
Take stock of your relationship as you read through this action of the article. If you notice many of these signs in your relationship, they could be signs of unhealthy boundaries.
1. Your brain to mouth filter got turned off on the first date
Can you cast your mind back to the first time you hung out with your partner? What was the experience for you? If you discover (in retrospect) that you shared much more than you should have on that first day, it could be that you have no boundaries.
If they were the ones doing that to you, it is also safe to say that it is one of the business examples of unhealthy boundaries in relationships. The concept of the personal space is one that every person with a healthy sense of boundaries in relationships understands.
So, think back to how it was with your partner at first. Were you all over your personal spaces from the start?
3. You went against your values just to please them
So, you dislike doing something but for the sake of pleasing them, you subjected yourself to the displeasure of doing that thing. If this is you, that could be a sign of unhealthy boundaries in the relationship.
This is completely different from compromise. In a compromise, you meet with your partner halfway. Under this condition, you bend over backward for nothing, if not to please them.
Stand up for everything that matters to you. Watch this video.
4. Questionable intensity
While it is great to feel loved and be the center of another person’s attraction, examining the intensity with which your partner came at you at the beginning of the relationship is necessary.
Suppose they made you feel smothered or spooked with their attention (incessant calls, premature declarations of love, and outright expressions of a desire to be in an exclusive relationship). In that case, it could be a sign that you need help setting boundaries in a relationship.
Do they feel threatened when you hang out with friends and family? Do they try to forbid you from interacting with other people like you usually would daily? Do they try to keep you tucked away, far from the eyes of other people?
If you answered yes to these questions, it could be a sign of unhealthy boundaries in relationships. Many times, this isolation has the power to evolve into worse things faster than you can imagine.
6. They have no moral standing, as far as you are concerned
Take a critical look at the person you are (or want to be) in a relationship with. Can you beat your chest and vouch for them in specific areas of their lives?
If they change with the times or have questionable values that you cannot precisely place your hands on, it may be a sign that you may have issues with unhealthy boundaries sometime in the future.
On your own, you may struggle with having a strong sense of identity. Suppose you have relinquished the responsibility of developing a healthy sense of self-identity and esteem to your partner. In that case, it may be one of the signs of unhealthy boundaries in your relationship.
8. You can’t say no to them without feeling guilty
After a long day at work, you have returned home. You are tired, stressed, and badly in need of some tender loving care. Yes, it is Friday, but all you can think of is a hot shower and crawling into bed immediately afterward.
The only challenge is that your partner is having none of that. They want to party, and they are bent on dragging you along to ‘get some fun.’
Despite knowing that what’s right for you at the moment would be to stay back and take care of yourself, you feel bad for saying no and would instead put yourself in danger than stand on your ‘no.’
Does this sound like you? If it does, your inability to refuse their request could result from unhealthy boundaries in relationships.
9. You would rather accept anything they throw at you instead of demanding what you are worth
Love? Attention? Respect? Devotion?
Despite being the things you know you should be getting when you are in a committed relationship, you would instead put up with the crumbs that they throw your way instead of standing up for yourself and demanding to be treated better.
Find yourself constantly having to fit into a mold that has been created for you by your partner, especially when it is one you aren’t entirely satisfied with. You may have some challenges with setting healthy boundaries.
10. You let them have sex with you, even when you aren’t up to it
However, sex is a consensual activity that must involve the active agreement of all parties involved. If you, for some reason, find yourself giving into your partner’s sexual desires and advances when you ordinarily do not want to, it could mean that something may be off.
As a rational adult, you should never allow someone to have sex with you when you don’t want to. The control over your own body is something you must put in place if you want to guard against the signs of unhealthy boundaries in your relationship.
11. Falling for people simply because they were there in for you when you were going through a rough patch
We all have our down times in life. However, the fact that someone stayed with you when dealing with some things doesn’t automatically qualify them as ‘dating/relationship material.’
One of the signs of unhealthy boundaries is that you find it challenging to keep your emotions in check. Once a person comes through for you at a specific time of your life, you may find yourself falling for them afterward.
This is a recipe for disaster and can only lead to a series of heartbreaks for you.
12. You have gone against your values simply because you want to please them
Before they came into your life, you had some personal value codes that you upheld and placed much priority on. As far as you were concerned, those personal values defined you and gave your life some balance.
However, since they came into your life, you have found yourself going against your values simply because you want to keep them impressed.
While it is necessary to compromise at some point if you want the relationship to keep going, tossing your values aside just to please your partner shows that you may need help setting boundaries in unhealthy relationships.
13. You take responsibility for their actions, so they don’t have to deal with the emotional weight of their bad decisions
As much as it is a noble thing to want to stand up for your partner, it is necessary that sometimes, you let them take responsibility for their actions so that they can learn and make better choices next time.
If you are the type of partner who would always make excuses for their partner or try to prevent them from taking responsibility for their decisions at some point, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate things.
Also, look out for how they behave when their bad sides are brought to light. Do they accept responsibility, or do they try to apportion blame to you? Are they always the victim in the relationship? Evaluating these can help you understand if you would need help with reinforcing break boundaries in your relationship.
14. They betray you, but you hang on to them
Suppose for some reason, you have remained in a relationship with someone who has made a habit out of betraying your feelings and emotions (not just random acts of mistakes). In that case, you may want to reassess the relationship and determine if this is a sign of unhealthy boundaries.
If they break your trust, cheat on you, share your private information with third parties, turn on you in public, or generally make your life miserable, and you continue the relationship with them (like nothing happened), you may be having challenges with setting boundaries in a relationship.
15. They make you feel little, but you have chosen to remain with them
In the eyes of your partner, no one else should be bigger or greater than you are. However, if your partner has made a habit out of making you feel little and making your accomplishments look like trash, you may want to take some time to think about the relationship once again.
Difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries in relationships
While we have buttressed unhealthy boundaries in relationships and some of the signs that show that you are in an unhealthy relationship, it is important to tell the difference between healthy boundaries and unhealthy boundaries.
This is because if you are unable to tell the difference, you may lose the good people in your life and keep the bad ones.
4 ways to handle a relationship with unhealthy boundaries
Being in an unhealthy relationship with unhealthy boundaries is toxic. It is one of those situations that require immediate attention if you want to enjoy your personal life.
1. Take a break
One thing you need to do immediately after you identify your relationship as unhealthy is to take a break. This may mean putting some distance between yourself and your partner. If it comes to that, by all means, please do it.
2. Analyze how you feel
It is almost impossible to move on and begin setting boundaries in unhealthy relationships if you don’t take some time to analyze exactly how you feel. What about your partner makes you feel uncomfortable? How exactly do you feel when they put up those actions?
3. Don’t feel as though you need to rescue your partner
This is the first step toward returning to a toxic and unhealthy relationship with signs of unhealthy boundaries. This may take some time, but you need to tell yourself that they are responsible for their actions and they need to exert themselves if they intend to become better people.
It is impossible to get them to understand exactly how they make you feel if you don’t make an effort to communicate with them.
During this session, you must come clean and let them know what you discovered from carrying out step 2. Make them understand exactly how they make you feel when there are weak boundaries in a relationship.
Whatever they do with the information is entirely up to them.
People with boundary issues can be unpredictable at times. The last thing you want is to be taken unawares.
If there are friends and loved ones you can talk to, do well to do so immediately. Bring them up to speed on what you are experiencing if the need to defend you arises.
6. Talk to experts
If you are having challenges with setting personal boundaries in your relationship, you can benefit from the expertise of professionals like psychologists and therapists. They can help you sort through your mind and get you through the dark times.
Signs of unhealthy boundaries in relationships shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet when they appear. If you notice any of these signs in your relationship, you must take the steps outlined in the last section of this article as you journey toward a better 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.