Setting boundaries helps create the healthiest relationship possible. Your relationship should be safe. Your boundaries and how your partner respects them are key to making it feel that way. So, what boundaries do you need in your relationship for it to feel like a safe and welcoming part of your life? While there are different kinds of boundaries, emotional boundaries are a necessity in your relationship. Creating them can be tricky, especially when it comes to something we are uncomfortable talking about. How can you create emotional boundaries so that you can sustain a happy and healthy relationship?
Saying the L word
Like most things, saying the big three words in a relationship should only happen when you are ready. Just because your partner says “I love you” doesn’t mean you have to say it back. That’s not to say that you should ignore them and pretend like it didn’t happen. But maybe you aren’t there yet, and that’s okay. Just be upfront about everything.
No one likes to be played with and led on. Communicate how you are feeling. There is nothing wrong with taking a breath and slowing down. Can you love someone after only two weeks? Sure, you hear about a couple that got married in six months of meeting each other, but that is the exception and not the rule. Real emotional intimacy is only achieved after spending time with someone. It’s easy to get swept away in the bubbly new feelings that come with a new relationship, leading me to my next point.
It’s not a race, and it’s not easy
Take your time getting to know the person. It’s easy to say, ‘I love you in the honeymoon stage of a relationship where everything they do is cute or amazing, but loving someone isn’t easy. You love someone because of, but also in spite of. Like the physical aspect of a relationship, the emotional part isn’t a race. There is no trophy for getting to the finish line first. Slow things down, get to know the person, and enjoy each other’s company. Then maybe the right time to say “I love you” will become more clear and not some terrifying and confusing thing. You won’t need to worry if they love you back. You’ve taken the time to gain trust. You have become committed to each other through that trust and have built love through your friendship. So don’t rush it.
Dismissal and assumptions
No one likes to feel ignored by their partner. Having your feelings ignored and dismissed as if they mean nothing hurts. Having your feelings invalidated by someone can leave a lasting impact, so communicate it if you do ever feel that way. Sometimes, people say dumb things or react without thinking, but if you tell them that it bothers you, they now understand their expectations. If you set expectations about what sort of emotional needs you need from your partner, they can try to meet them. Otherwise, they might make assumptions. For example, I have a friend, who when she comes to me with a problem, clearly states at the beginning of our talk if this talk is for venting or problem-solving. Sometimes we need to complain about work and get it off of our chest, and sometimes we need help working the problem out. You have to be clear about what you want.
To sum it up
Setting clear boundaries come down to clear communication. If you can talk with your partner and set clear expectations of needs that need to be met and boundaries that need to be respected, then welcome to a healthy relationship. And if you are with someone who repeatedly crosses your boundaries, disrespects you, and can’t meet your expectations, then it very well might be time to have a hard look at whether or not your relationship is right for you. If you have to constantly combat your partner to maintain a healthy boundary, they either don’t care or are not trying to meet those expectations you set. Boundaries are important in all aspects of life, and relationships are no expectation.
Now that you know about creating emotional boundaries, let’s revisit creating physical boundaries.