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Protecting Relationships with Boundaries

Updated: 20 hours ago

holding hands in a relationship

I'm often working with people that have a hard time being treated the way they want by friends, family or a partner. They might let themselves get walked all over. They are passive in allowing themselves to be treated this way until they explode. To avoid this pattern I talk with a lot of my clients about boundaries. They’re like the personal rules we set up in our lives that help us keep our relationships healthy and our minds clear. They are not about about bossing others around instead making sure you're treated well.

What’s the Deal with Boundaries?

Think of boundaries as your personal space rules—how you let others treat you, what’s okay and what’s not. This could be how you are touched or not, it could be not being yelled at or called certain things, it could be not using guilt to get their way. Setting boundaries means you're clear on what feels good and what doesn’t.

How to Set Boundaries

If you’re not used to asking for your needs or wants, this might feel a bit awkward at first. Here’s a formula you can use when you need to set a boundary:

“It’s really tough for me when you do [whatever it is they're doing], because it makes me feel [whatever you're feeling]. I’d really appreciate if you could [whatever change you're looking for]. I care about us and think this will help keep things cool and respectful.”

See? It’s all about sharing how you feel and what you need without making it a blame game.

Keeping Boundaries in Check

Now, setting them is one thing, but keeping them in place? That’s key.

You might have to:

Remind someone about your boundary if they forget.

Decide what you’ll do if someone keeps crossing the line.

Be clear and calm about your actions (to yourself).

For instance:

“Hey, so we talked about [the boundary they crossed] before, and it’s come up again. It’s really important to me. If this keeps up, I’ll [whatever action you plan to take], to respect myself. I’m hoping we can figure this out together.”

They won't respect my boundaries...

I hear this all the time. But actually the power isn't in their hands to treat you the way you asked, it's in your hands. Ask yourself what can I control to not allow myself to be treated this way? Can you leave? End the conversation? Not work with them anymore?

For example, you can’t make someone always be punctual, but you can still leave at the time you needed to. You can't make someone not call you when they are drinking but you can hang up the phone if you realize the are drinking. You can't stop someone from yelling, but you can leave the room or the house until they calm down.

Wrapping Up

So, setting boundaries isn’t about telling others how to behave; it’s about deciding what you’re okay with and how you handle things when your limits are tested. By focusing on your own actions and responses, you take control of your own life. Remember, it’s not about setting boundaries once and being done with it. As your relationships grow and change, so will your boundaries.

By speaking up for yourself and setting these limits, you invite others to understand you better and build relationships based on mutual respect. So keep it real, keep it respectful, and keep those boundaries clear!

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