The Importance of Boundaries in Healthy Relationships

Have you ever been in a relationship where setting boundaries became difficult but necessary? ‘Boundary’ is a word that is often tossed around whether the situation is romantic, platonic, or even familial. But it is not always an easy thing to set, significantly the closer you are to someone. Sometimes it’s hard even to define them or know when they need to be set. In this blog, we explore what it looks like to not only define boundaries but how to stick to them without guilt and use them to build healthy, lasting relationships that empower you to speak up for yourself. 


Understanding Boundaries 

So first things first, how do we even define boundaries? Setting boundaries is a healthy way of saying this is what I expect and what I don’t. It says, here’s what I’m good with and what I’m not. It allows yourself and the other person to know what will make or break the relationship or situation you’re in together. It is a line in the sand that tells you when to walk away when it’s blurred. While some people in bad relationships may not want to set clear boundaries in hopes of avoiding conflict, having them actually serves as a crucial component of maintaining those relationships in a sustainable, healthy way. It is the basis of mutual respect for all involved, which should be a cornerstone of any relationship.  


Identifying the Need to Set Boundaries

An easy question that can actually be difficult to answer is, “How do I know when I need to set boundaries?”. Simply put, this can be at the point of realizing you’ve become a people pleaser. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be a people pleaser, it opens the door to letting your boundaries be quickly walked on. If you’re experiencing a lack of respect, not getting a voice, or you’re giving into the wants of the other person without any compromise just to avoid conflict or negative feelings, you’ve become a people pleaser. Realizing when you’re at this point requires a good long look in the mirror. You have to start looking at your interactions with the other person through the lens of how it makes you feel. Are you feeling avoidant? Is there a pit in your stomach or discomfort to the level that they are involved in certain aspects of your life? Learning to listen to the red flags your body is telling you is one of the best things you can do for yourself and the other person. It is your way of sounding the alarm that something isn’t right and needs to be addressed through boundaries. 


Practical Steps to Establish Healthy Boundaries

At its most basic understanding, boundaries are simply respect in action. So when needing to define your boundaries with another person the best way to go about it is starting with respect. Otherwise, there can be more conflict, damaged relationships, and guilt. This doesn’t just mean respect towards them, but also yourself. If you set these boundaries concerning their feelings but not your own, you will still have lingering feelings of resentment, discomfort, and anger. 


So say you’re someone with an unhealthy relationship with your mother, and you feel she is trying to assert herself over you in your adult life. Talk to her about how that feels and how it would look to have a healthier relationship that recognizes you as being their child who is now an adult and making their own decisions. Make sure that the outcome of how that looks makes you feel comfortable. This can require compromise, but it shouldn’t come solely at your expense. 


Recognizing Crossed Boundaries

When you’re close to someone, recognizing when a boundary has been crossed can sometimes be difficult to understand or even talk about. This does not mean that it should be ignored, though. The best way to know when your boundaries are crossed is by honing in on how the situation makes you feel. If you are suppressing feelings of disrespect, conflict within, or anger, that’s your sign. That’s when you know it’s time to step up to your boundary and say your peace with that person. Make it clear to them exactly how they crossed it and let them know that it is not okay to treat that boundary as an open door. 


So, how do boundaries create more fulfilling relationships? By giving the proper respect to both parties involved. By allowing everyone to be heard and seen as the person they actually are. When someone gets to show up as themselves, fully knowing that they’re going to be respected and accepted no matter what, relationships thrive and bonds grow stronger. There is better communication because there is safety in knowing that they can speak up. By understanding all of this and setting your boundaries, you can create lasting, healthy relationships in your life. So, why not take that brave first step today? Your relationships and your peace of mind will thank you for it.


Amy Gleaves, Life Coach, Headshot

Amy Gleaves is a dedicated Life Coach who has earned the reputation as an advocate of change. To date, she has helped dozens of people find their place in the business world and ultimately pave the path to personal and financial prosperity.