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How to set relationship boundaries and deal breakers

relationship boundaries
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

Relationship boundaries are parameters you set that tell other people where they end and you begin. They tell the world what you will and won’t tolerate. And help you understand your wants and needs to get them met.

Relationship boundaries keep you safe. They help you spot red flags because you’ve determined ahead of time what you will and won’t accept.

When considering a prospective partner, for instance, you might have “deal breakers” or non-negotiables. These are attributes in a person that act as a stop sign or warning light.

Addictions, for example, may be deal breakers for you. You won’t continue in a relationship with someone who has them.

When establishing relationship boundaries, you’ll consider both physical and emotional limits. Here are four examples:

1. Texting

How often do you wish to send and receive texts? Set aside any “rules” about waiting a certain amount of time before returning a text. That’s manipulative and does nothing to help you connect with what you really want.

I prefer to receive texts twice a day at most. Otherwise, I get pulled away from my responsibilities and goals for the day.

You may need more or less than that to feel comfortable. But be honest about your needs and why you have them.

If you need hourly texts to feel okay and constantly check your phone for them, you may have an anxious attachment that needs addressing.

If you need hourly texts to feel okay, you may have an anxious attachment that needs addressing. Click To Tweet

2. Physical intimacy

Many happy long-term couples had sex soon after meeting. But maybe you want to wait until marriage before going that far.

You may be okay with touching but not want to go “all the way” until you’re in a committed relationship. It’s a good idea to know where you stand before meeting that special someone to avoid a decision you later regret.

Many women confess to having used sex to get or keep a man’s interest. Not only is this a complete self-betrayal, it never works. Sex as a tool creates false intimacy that prevents true emotional intimacy from flourishing.

3. Relationship boundaries include time apart

No matter how close you are with your partner, it’s healthy to have time away to do your own thing.

The French refer to this personal time as a secret garden. It’s the time you spend alone doing something you love that enriches you. And your partner knows nothing about it.

The French refer to time spent alone doing something you love as the secret garden. Click To Tweet

Nurturing yourself this way ensures you stay connected to yourself as an individual. And you feel vital and interesting outside of your relationships. After your time away, you come back with more to give.

4. Entertainment

I’m a highly sensitive person which means violent movies and loud action flicks have a negative impact on my nervous system. As a result, I have relationship boundaries around the type of media I’ll ingest.

You may have similar limits on what you watch or consume with your partner. You may wish to avoid seeing anything that demeans women. And you may not tolerate your partner watching such material.

Final thoughts on relationship boundaries

These are just a few of the countless examples of relationship boundaries available to us. Most important is to communicate these and not expect someone to read your mind.

Healthy boundaries are all about clear communication, after all. They help us draw closer to one another in a respectful way while protecting us from harm.

Relationship boundaries keep out those who are no good for us. And invite in the ones who will treat us the way we deserve and desire.

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