Have you ever played a game without any rules? How about basketball without structure or referees? Not much of a game eh?  Although love is not a game, the end result is the same without boundaries, lots of frustration and many arguments. It’s like dropping a match in the forest in the summertime. In order to thrive relationships need clearly defined limits. The problem is some people are unaware of what their boundaries are and how to set them. Below we’re going to discuss five healthy boundaries you should consider in your relationship. Before we get started let’s define what healthy boundaries are. 

“Healthy boundaries are those boundaries that are set to make sure mentally and emotionally you are stable” (Prism Health North Texas, n.d.). Healthy boundaries can serve to establish one’s identity. Specifically, healthy boundaries can help people define their individuality and can help people indicate what they will and will not hold themselves responsible for - PositivePsychology.com

Physical Boundaries

Physical boundaries refer to your personal space. Maybe you’re the type of person that doesn’t like to be held after an argument. Or maybe you’re like me and hate when your boo stands on both your feet as they talk to you. You know your personal boundaries are being violated when you start to feel really uncomfortable and the hairs on the back of your neck start to rise. It’s ok to tell your boo how you feel.

Healthy Physical Boundaries may sound like:

  • "I don't like when you touch me like that”. 

  • "I’m hangry (hungry + angry). I need to pull over and get something to eat”. 

  • "I’ve been on my feet all day. I need to sit down."

  • "Don't go into my room without asking first."

  • "I am not a big hugger."

Emotional Boundaries

Emotional boundaries are all about respecting and honoring your feelings as well as your boo’s. You need to have enough awareness of when to open up or walk away from certain situations that deplete your energy. However, there will be uncomfortable situations that you may need to stick out in order to get to a more peaceful place. The challenge with some people is that they aren’t aware of the difference and they end up becoming someone's punching bag or walking away because it’s too uncomfortable. Remember, every argument isn’t bad, some are needed for growth.

Setting Emotional Boundaries could sound like:

  • “Hey, I’m not in the mood to talk right now, can we chat in 30 minutes”

  • “I don’t like when you blame me for the same things you do”

  • “Don’t talk to me like a child”

  • “When I open up to you please don’t interrupt until I finish”

  • “When you yell at me it makes me shut down”

Sexual Boundaries

Some people enter relationships having had traumatic sexual experiences. While they may enjoy sex there are certain sexual acts that could bring up negative memories. A good partner is mindful of this and will continue to seek to create a safe place for their boo to fully be themselves in the bedroom. The important thing is to respect where your boo is in their sexual journey. Sex is the most sacred and intimate act between two people and If someone is violated during this act it could leave a negative impact they’ll have to work through the rest of their life. It’s ok to take things slow as well as making sure there’s consent and understanding between both parties. 

Here’s some things you can say to establish Sexual Boundaries

  • “Tell me what you like and don’t like”

  • “Is this comfortable for you”

  • “I don’t like that. Let’s do something different”

  • “I’m really into (insert here), would you be comfortable trying that?”

  • “I don’t want to have sex until I’m married”

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Financial Boundaries

I recently heard a story where a woman stopped talking to a man because she asked to go to a certain restaurant and the man told her it wasn’t in his budget but agreed to do something else. How would you approach this situation if you were the man or the woman? Your answer may determine where your financial boundaries are. The reality is most people either don’t have a budget or don’t stick to it. Unfortunately, I fall into one of those categories. However, my money personality is  “The Stockpiler.” I’d rather keep saving for a rainy day. Whereas my wife is both “The Stockpiler” and “The Nurturer”. For both of us to be happy we had to extend our boundaries. What’s important to us today, with a young family, is that we live below our means, have an emergency fund, and save a little every month, which we’ve managed to do. 

If you’re not setting financial boundaries it’ll eventually come back to haunt you. 

A Financial Boundaries conversation may look like:

  • “I don’t let people borrow money. If I have the money I’d much prefer to give it to them.”

  • “Can we go to that restaurant next month? I’d really like to stick to my budget”

  • “I’d rather pay cash for everything than go into debt”

Time Boundaries

The semester I started dating my wife my grades took a dip and I missed graduating with honors by one decimal point. It still haunts me to this day because I didn’t respect my own time boundary. In fact my wife respected this boundary much more than I did and finished her Master’s with a 4.0 gpa. I learned that we can’t expect people to honor our boundaries if we’re not willing to do it ourselves. Your time is valuable and it’s important to protect how it’s utilized. It’s not healthy to spend all your time with your boo and neglect other important relationships or your personal interests. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. 

Another way to look at time boundaries is when life gets busy. We go to work, do homework with kids, prepare meals and the list goes on. There is always something we have to do, that usually doesn’t include spending time with our boo. It is equally important to prioritize your time with your partner. 

Setting healthy Time Boundaries may sound like:

  • “I’m going to visit my sister for the weekend to catch up”

  • “I’d love to go to that function with you but I think I’ll be over committing myself”

  • “I need a little time to myself to recharge”

  • “I’m going to do a personal development course on Tuesday evenings” 

  • “Let’s put some time aside just for us this weekend”

Uncommunicated boundaries will eventually lead to resentment. So don’t wait to tell your boo about yours if you haven’t already discussed them. Also, be thoughtful and consider that your boo has boundaries as well. Here is a worksheet that shares ways you both can create healthy boundaries.

With love, 

Colleen x La Vance


p.s. If you and your boo aren’t having fun you’re not doing it right.

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