Last updated on September 15th, 2023 at 01:58 pm
Knowing how to set healthy boundaries in a romantic relationship could seem contrary to common sense expectations, but it is necessary to define what you can take for your own respect and sanity.
In romantic relationships, people often think and talk about unconditional love, but that sounds toxic.
Toxic in the sense that it means you accept whatever your partner brings your way because you are in love.
This leads to much-unspoken turmoil and abuse. Creating personal boundaries leaves everyone happy and respected in a balanced and mature relationship.
Here’s a video for context on what boundaries in a relationship are:
We have discussed what boundaries are and healthy boundaries, this article is dedicated solely to setting boundaries in romantic relationships.
Family and other relationships are different from romantic relationships. The communication, emotions and feelings, the love and prospects all differ.
In this article, we are going to talk about why it is important to set boundaries in your romantic relationships and how to do so.
Reasons and importance of setting boundaries in your romantic relationship
- Defines what you are comfortable with: Boundaries in romantic relationships help you define what you are comfortable with and give your partner guidelines on how to treat you.
- Promotes closeness and bonding: As a result of perfect understanding that accompanies the establishment of healthy boundaries in the relationship.
- Creates healthy emotional health: Setting boundaries in romantic relationships creates good emotional health and is set with people who are emotionally healthy.
- Creates mutual respect: People who are self-aware and emotionally sound do best in setting boundaries in their romantic relationships. This is because they know the results and how it naturally brings about mutual respect and a sense of discipline.
- Improves happiness: They are also happy in their lives and respect other people’s boundaries, promoting respect in society.
- Eliminates bickering and irritability: People whose boundaries are porous or toxic bicker every now and then in their relationships and lead unhappy lives because they constantly trespass on each other’s boundaries and those of others, promoting an unhealthy society.
- Defines responsibilities: Also, clear boundaries help you determine and define responsibilities in romantic relationships between partners.
- Helps you take responsibility: Healthy boundaries help you take on responsibilities that are yours. When respected by both partners, healthy intimacy grows and everyone is happy, but in the absence of poor boundaries, problems arise.
You can start working on the boundaries in your romantic relationship with your partner today and get the most out of the benefits.
Types of boundaries in a romantic relationship
Boundaries in relationships can be either physical or emotional.
Physical boundaries involve your personal space, your body, and how your partner accesses them.
Setting boundaries on how your partner accesses you during your monthly period is an example.
There are people who don’t find it interesting, but because their partner wants that, they endure in silence because they didn’t establish any boundary on that.
There are couples who have different rooms, different wardrobes, and other personal belongings.
These are boundaries that are necessary as they establish limits for the partner.
On the other hand, emotional boundaries draw the line between what you feel, your emotions, and how they are accessed by your partner or used against you.
Creating emotional boundaries helps you be responsible for your emotions and not let other people determine how you feel.
Going further, it dictates what you are comfortable sharing with your partner. You have the right to share or not share certain emotional information.
Some partners capitalize on some emotional blackmail to get their partners to do something they wouldn’t normally do.
While the partner might reluctantly oblige, they are not happy as they do so against their will. Check the conversation below out:
“Hello, there is an opening in my company I have talked to my head about you and he is willing to receive your application”
“Thanks for that, but must I work in your firm”
“Yes, it would enhance our relationship, besides, I want you to be successful”
“But you already know I am not cut out for that commitment right now”
“Please don’t be selfish, you know I love you and I am concerned”
“Please stop trying to run my life, allow me to be entitled to myself and what I want”
The above conversation shows a partner wants to blackmail the other into accepting their proposal of taking a job in their company, but the other is not having it.
This is an example of what can transpire when there is no emotional boundary.
From an onlooker, it seems the partner receiving that much attention is lucky, but they feel like they are being baby-sitted.
There is a difference between loving someone and smothering someone with love, and that’s why emotional boundaries are necessary.
Boundary violations problems
It’s usually accidental when boundaries are violated or deliberate to spite the other partner in a romantic relationship.
It’s usually destructive if the violating partner refuses to acknowledge and apologise.
Much is swallowed, feelings are ignored and there comes emotional distancing which may lead to an overall unsatisfying relationship.
The importance of setting boundaries in romantic relationships cannot be over-flogged.
Related: The Good and Bad of Rigid Boundaries
Boundaries need to not just be established; they also need to be respected for the relationship to work.
Below are some ways boundaries problems hurt a romantic relationship:
- Not apologizing when a boundary trespass
- Saying ‘yes’ when a partner should have said no just to please them
- Waiting for your partner to read your mind instead of being firm in what you want
- Trying to manipulate your partner either through thought or behaviours
- Retaliation or spiting a partner who didn’t apologise
People have successful healthy boundaries in their relationships when they start early enough to establish those boundaries.
The earlier one starts, the better and easier. Healthy boundaries in romantic relationships take practice and effort especially if one doesn’t have a history of healthy boundaries in their family.
You and your partner can enjoy a respectful romantic relationship if you both are ready to explore the benefits therein.
There are partners who have rigid opinions around these issues as a result of their culture and masculine or feminine beliefs; if possible, avoid these people as they have proven to be toxic.
These types of people won’t respect your boundaries, instead, they would bring up what their culture or religion says.
How to set healthy boundaries in a romantic relationship with your partner
Setting boundaries in your romantic relationship with your partner begins at the onset of the relationship just like mentioned above.
Here are general tips on establishing a strong foundation for healthy boundaries:
1. Be sure and understand your own boundaries
Make sure you are clear about what your boundaries are and why you are having them.
Sometimes, having boundaries for the sake of having them would send a bad message to your partner. They would think you are creating boundaries for manipulation.
You have to convince them with strong reasons why the boundary must be respected.
Believe me, if the reasons resonate with them, and for your own good, they would respect it.
2. Your boundaries should not be too stringent
Stringent boundaries are toxic and rigid. They are your partner and not a kind of enemy that should be given stringent conditions.
Boundaries around relationships should always be soft enough not to wear partners off or make them seem a means to a destination.
3. Pay attention to your partner’s boundaries
While you wish your boundaries to be respected, you should also make sure you pay attention to your partner’s boundaries so you can respect them.
Problems most times start when one partner accidentally violates the other’s boundaries.
The hurt partner might not utter a word, especially when he has complained over and over again.
Accumulated anger might cause a dangerous outburst sometime and there would be a problem.
Understanding your partner’s boundaries would prevent this early enough.
4. Be confident enough to say ‘no’ and respect when your partner says ‘no’
Saying ‘no’ to things you don’t want is a good way to establish a boundary in that line.
However, this should be done in the most respectful and fun way. It should not be done with the face conveying contempt or disgust.
Normally, your partner wants your happiness and so would comply when you are respectful.
5. Forgive your partner when they apologise after breaking your boundary
It is in good taste to forgive your partner when they violate your boundary rules. Even though there might be consequences for most boundary violations, if they are truly sincere, they should be forgiven without arguments.
5. Appreciate your partner for respecting your boundary
Though boundaries are not laws, they are good guidelines to foster good and healthy relationships to keep everyone happy.
A partner who respects boundaries should be appreciated and let them know they are the best. This would also encourage them to do more.
Related: Setting Family Boundaries
To avoid conflicts, partners should know how to set healthy boundaries in a relationship.
Understanding your boundaries, communicating them, and paying attention to your partner’s own needs is the way to go in promoting cohesion and bonding.
Setting healthy boundaries is most successful and less daunting when they are done early enough in the relationship.
It could still be done down the relationship with understanding and love. Talking to a professional mental health care provider could be helpful when it is difficult to establish healthy boundaries.
Thanks for reading. We welcome criticisms and suggestions to help us improve.
A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.
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