By Sarah Fader
Updated December 12, 2018
Boundaries are critical for any person who wants to live a healthy, happy life. In many regards. Those who fail to set appropriate boundaries can find their lives spiraling into turmoil, destruction, and peril. This is especially applicable when dating and romantic relationships come into play. Romance can be such an exciting time in one's life; however, the proper, healthy boundaries can keep the romance from turning into something dark and destructive.
However, before one can set healthy boundaries when dating, they must first understand what boundaries are and why they matter.
What Are Healthy Boundaries?
Psychology Today defines boundaries as limits which "contain ourselves within the parameters of where I stop, and others begin." Although boundaries can often conjure up negative connotations, they are critical to succeeding in life, especially in relationships. Many people view setting boundaries as an unhealthy imposition upon other, but in reality, healthy boundaries allow each person to preserve and maintain his or her own needs and health.
There are many different types of boundaries, ranging from personal to emotional and psychological. Carving out certain days of the week to spend time with one's significant other is an example of setting boundaries. Similarly, turning off one's phone and other electronic devices for the sake of having personal time is another instance of setting healthy boundaries. Is it up to each to decide upon and set needed, healthy boundaries, especially when dating.
What Happens When People Fail To Set Healthy Boundaries?
A series of events follows when someone fails to set boundaries, and none of them are good. When healthy boundaries are not put in place and enforced, it can cause people to experience stress. Not only does a lack of boundaries breed stress, but it also complicates the process of assessing one's own needs.
In essence, setting healthy boundaries allows people to maintain healthy levels of self-awareness, take care of themselves, and identify their individual needs.
Know When To Say 'No.'
It is paramount for every person to master the ability to tell they're significant other 'no' at the appropriate points and times. Unfortunate, this is a feat that many individuals struggle with. Quite often, the desire to please one's romantic partner is so strong that the person goes above and beyond, even to a fault. Relationships are about given and take; there are certain instances where going the extra mile is acceptable, and there are circumstances where standing one's ground and saying no is critical.
The ability to say 'no' comes with many benefits. Not only does it establish healthy boundaries between significant others, but it also earns respect. Attempting to do anything and everything can seem noble at the time, but in actuality, a person who cannot say 'no' is potentially setting themselves up to be viewed as a pushover. It is important to understand that anyone who truly loves and cares for someone will understand and respect the word 'no.'
A critical part of setting healthy boundaries in relationships is effectively communicating those boundaries. Psych Central affirms the significance of using "I" statements to let one's partner know what they are and are not comfortable with. For instance, someone who is romantically involved with a person who becomes verbally abusive during arguments or disputes is crossing a very important boundary and the breach should be discussed as soon as possible so that it does not happen again.
One of the best ways to effectively communicate is by informing the other person of their offense healthily and productively. For example, a significant other who screams, curses, and name calls during disagreements should be sat down and told "I don't feel comfortable when you call me names when we disagree with one another," or "I don't like being cursed or screamed at during arguments." Both of these statements are direct and respectful, while also allowing the other person to understand which boundary they crossed and why it should not be crossed again.
If an individual finds themselves in a relationship with someone who repeatedly and habitually crosses boundaries even after communication and discussions take place, they should reconsider the relationship and decide whether or not the partnership is best for them.
Look Out For Yourself
Although most people deeply love and care for their significant others, the crossing of boundaries can still be very upsetting and understandably so. As previously stated, after the violation of said boundaries, effective communication is important. However, the timing of this communication makes all the difference in the world.
Nine times out of ten, when someone experiences a breach of certain limitations can breed feelings and emotions such as anger, frustration, and resentment. According to the Huffington Post, exercising, taking a walk, or otherwise getting some alone time are some of the best ways to handle oneself after boundaries have been crossed. This does not mean that communication should be avoided. However, effective communication is always ten times easier when both parties have cool, calm heads and are unlikely to say or do something that they both regret at a later date or time.
Know Who You Are
One of the most critical elements of boundaries is that they come from within. Every person is responsible for setting their boundaries and limitations. To successfully do so, the person has to know who they are and what they stand for. A certain degree of self-awareness is paramount when setting boundaries.
Additional reports from the Huffington Post state that being in tune with one's thoughts and feelings is one of the best ways to begin establishing boundaries. Taking note of how the words, actions, and behaviors of other affect one's emotions and thoughts is a great way to start. When an individual is feeling angry, frustrated, or otherwise upset after a certain incident has taken place, these emotions serve as strong indicators that boundaries have been crossed. When boundaries are crossed, each person has the responsibility to take note of such and ensure that said breaches do not happen again.
A Final Word
While boundaries are equally important in all interactions with others, setting and enforcing boundaries in romantic relationships can serve as somewhat of a challenge. Most people have inherent soft spots for the person they are dating for obvious reasons. Sometimes, they may feel inclined to go easier on their significant other or put up with transgressions which they would not accept from other individuals. In some cases, people can do this to a fault. An individual who fails to set and enforce healthy boundaries will likely experience pent-up frustration which is bound to explode at a later date and time. Rarely does this occurrence end well for either party.
Furthermore, every person, regardless of whether they are currently in a relationship or not, should understand the gravity and importance of boundaries. When dating both parties should have mutually respected limitations that each person is aware and mindful of. Boundaries do not stunt healthy relationships, but instead, allow them to flourish and grow.
One of the clearest indicators of a healthy and loving dating partner is one who respects the limitations and boundaries of a significant other. Respecting and adhering to one's boundaries is a sign of love and care. Unfortunately, individuals who find themselves romantically involved with toxic or narcissistic people may experience pressure to alter or even erase their boundaries altogether.
More often than not, the person will somehow claim that said boundaries are not reasonable and fair. If and when this situation presents itself, the individual should be aware that only they get to decide which boundaries are most appropriate. Ultimately, someone who fails to respect their partner's boundaries does not truly respect their partner. There is no foundation for a healthy relationship without respect. These are critical points for both parties to keep in mind, especially if they are interested in continuing with the relationship.
Dating and setting boundaries can be tricky sometimes. Here at BetterHelp, we pride ourselves on providing the best quality of care and guidance to those in need of it. Although a counselor or therapist cannot set boundaries for you, they can help you get to know yourself, understand your limits, and effectively set your boundaries. Believe it or not, these are feats that many people struggle with and unfortunately, their relationships can also suffer as a result.
The benefits of professional help are well-documented, although many people still struggle with doing so. Sometimes, certain individuals are told that seeking out assistance is a sign of weakness or a personal shortcoming; however, this is simply not true. Some of the strongest and most successful people in the world are the ones who can ask for help as they need it. The reality is that nobody can do anything and everything by themselves. At some point, each will require help, and that's OK.
Ultimately, each person has to decide whether or not they are willing to accept help and guidance. BetterHelp will always be here as an option. If you or your loved ones ever feel inclined to contact BetterHelp for any reason whatsoever, you can do so by clicking here.