Setting boundaries in relationships

Setting boundaries can be difficult, it can be a bit of a struggle to know where to start or even what classes as a ‘boundary’. Often, we think if we say “no” then we risk losing part of the relationship or even friendship. But putting boundaries into place is a way normal and healthy way of protecting ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Having that discussion about boundaries can feel awkward or you may not know what to say, particularly if the relationship game is new to you, here are a few pointers to think about when starting a new relationship.

Be honest about what you need

In a new relationship everything is rosy, and you probably think you don’t need much from your partner because you just enjoy the time you spend with them. But you need to think further down the line, if this relationship has the potential to be serious then you need to think about what you want from your partner. From being open about their feelings to not leaving towels on the bathroom floor.

You need to get clear with yourself what you’re comfortable and not comfortable with, and then be able to communicate that to your partner, so they know exactly what to expect and how to meet your needs and expectations.

Listen to what your partner needs

After you’ve had your say about what you want from the relationship, listen to what your partner needs and we don’t mean just listen to respond, or to shake it off. But really listen. Listen and then think what you can do to meet those needs.

Designate when you need space

In the beginning of a relationship, you may want to be around your person as much as you can. Even trips to Tesco are fun when your partner is coming along. But if you’re finding that spending a lot of time together is getting a bit too much for you, then ask for space. The last thing you want to happen is you getting irritated because you feel like you see no one but your partner, so be honest and take time away from each other.

Communicate what you can tolerate

Knowing what you can tolerate is particularly important to prevent those arguments which can crop up. When talking about what you can tolerate, we mean not just those times your partner walks past the dirty plates and doesn’t wash them up. But particularly emotionally, we all get affected differently by actions and as a result how we react may differ. So, it’s important to let your partner know if you’re sensitive to being lied to, shouted at, silenced etc.

You should be able to communicate anything in your relationship but it’s also the way it’s communicated which is important. Try to remember to not expect a person to simply know what you need or can tolerate, it’s always best to be up front.

Communication is vital in a relationship and for it to work you need to remember that, however much we’d like them to read our minds, they just can’t. 

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