What Are Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship?

People often get confused about what a healthy boundary is. When is it okay to say no? Are ultimatums okay? What is an unhealthy boundary?

The purpose of boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves. We need to be able to let people know when their behavior is not acceptable to us. And we need to know that we have a right to do this.

Boundaries are never about power and control over another. They are always about self-care.

Can you say no without being angry? If you cannot, it is a sure sign that you have difficulty with setting boundaries.

Do you walk over someone else’s desires and rights? If so, it is a sure sign that you have difficulty respecting boundaries.

Sometimes we need to set boundaries around someone else’s behavior and sometimes we need to set them around our own behavior.

Boundary issues are also complicated by wounds, trauma, stressors, and inadequate support in your relationship.

Also, consider when your relationship does not have a protective bubble around it. Basically the relationship is between two. When thirds (whether a substance, a habit or another person) begin to interfere with the protection around the two, we have a boundary issue. Our love relationships need to be made special and important and have protection from intruding elements.

For example in a relationship with an alcoholic, the alcohol becomes a third figure in the relationship, and this creates problems because the main partner is no longer the other partner, but the alcohol.

Sometimes we run into trouble with boundaries because we want something and instead of talking about what we want and figuring out a solution, we bypass what our partners want and make our choice without them. For example, we might invite a relative to a holiday event before we checked in with our spouse – because we know our spouse doesn’t want to see that person. That action reveals both a manipulation (we want what we want – even at the expense of our primary relationship) and a boundary issue. Because we aren’t respecting that we are in a two-person system that needs to be honored. Sometimes compromises have to be made. That they come out of discussion, not out of violating the boundary of the relationship and the relationships needs.

Level 18 in WeConcile addresses boundaries in great detail although you will learn about them along the way.

Here is a short article on Saying No to Someone You Love.

Here is an article on what stops someone from Setting Boundaries

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