Ways To Set Boundaries In Your Relationship

boundaries in relationship

Ways To Set Boundaries In Your Relationship

Relationships are the pillars for our well being . We, being social creatures, have a strong urge to connect with each other. Relationships can be sources of intimacy and closeness and provide comfort and relief from stress. They can give us   a sense of purpose and belongingness. They encourage personal growth and add meaning to our lives. In this article today we take you through the ways to set boundaries in your relationship.

Research has consistently shown that a healthy relationship can lead to better mental well-being, decreased mortality rate, and  higher engagement in healthy behaviors. However, relationships can become complicated and difficult to deal with leading to unhappiness and insecurities. Complicated relationships also affect your overall well being and mental health. We at AtEase provide the best mental health counseling in India. We have the top licensed therapists in India, who guide you, give you a patient hearing, understand your issues and help you navigate them better. 

But what exactly accounts for a healthy relationship?

It is important to remember that a healthy relationship is not a perfect relationship. No type of relationship is ideal, but in a healthy relationship, both the people involved recognize that it will take work and effort to maintain their bond and are ready to do so. 

Healthy relationships involve respect, trust, communication and honesty between partners. It also involves independence, privacy and space. In a healthy relationship, you feel comfortable expressing your opinions, or even  feelings of sadness with your partner. Your partner respects your wishes and your relationship adds to your mental well being.

Boundaries are also a foundation of a healthy relationship, apart from trust, consent, and communication. 

What are Boundaries?

Boundaries are basic guidelines that say how much you are willing to give and take in a relationship. Boundaries ensure respect, appropriateness and care in a relationship. They establish what you are okay with and what you are not okay with in a relationship. 

Most people find the idea of setting a boundary bad or unnecessary as boundaries to them feel like something that keeps people apart. They either feel that boundaries are just about saying no or something set in stone whereas boundaries can be flexible and you are allowed to make changes in them in the future. Boundaries are not something negative that will make you unhappy or define the rights and wrongs in a relationship. They are about emotional and moral judgments that allow you not only to navigate your relationship but also the world which is filled with diverse and interesting people. 

Let’s look into the benefits of boundaries and why they are important to a relationship: 

  • Healthy boundaries help take each other’s feelings into account and show gratitude. 
  • They help people with mental health issues, like severe depression, to navigate the relationship in a way that is not damaging or triggering to them. 
  • It allows you to honor your partner and to make the relationship interdependent. 
  • Setting and enforcing boundaries can help with your mental well being and you get a sense of self trust and self confidence.
  • Boundaries not only help you understand yourself better but also your partner, this way you learn what your partner is okay with and what they are not okay with. ‘
  • Healthy boundaries reduce the chances of fighting and wanting to break up as it helps eliminate blaming the other person in a relationship. 
  •  The set boundary allows each partner to take responsibility for their part in any conflict or misunderstanding thus making it easier to resolve conflicts. 
  • Boundaries prevent others from taking advantage of you.


Setting a boundary can help you retain your sense of identity, protect your  personal space, improve your relationship with your partner and improve your mental well-being. Not having healthy boundaries can lead to mental health issues and is one of the causes of depression. 

Types of Boundaries

To help you set boundaries, let’s look into certain situations in a relationship and what they mean to you: 

  • Material: Are you comfortable sharing your stuff? Are you okay to pay for your partner or have them pay for you? 
  • Emotional: How comfortable are you sharing your feelings with your partner? Do you like to share them right away or take your time to process and think about it? How do you react when your partner communicates their emotion? Do you wish your partner to be there when you are going through a crisis or mental health issues? Do you feel overly responsible for managing your partner’s emotions?
  • Sexual: What sexual activities are you comfortable with? Would you like to wait for a while before engaging in any form of sexual activity? What would you like your partner to do after the completion of the sexual activity? When are where are you comfortable having sex?
  • Physical: Are you comfortable with affection? How much alone time would you like? Are you comfortable with public displays of affection? Is there a form of affection that your partner shows that makes you feel uncomfortable? How often would you like to see your partner?
  • Spiritual: Do you and your partner respect each other’s view on religion? How comfortable are you to practice your religion with or without your partner? 
  • Digital: Are you comfortable sharing passwords with your partner? How does it make you feel when your partner accesses your phone without asking you first? Are you comfortable with them posting pictures of you online? 

Examples of healthy boundaries: 

  • “I am allergic to ______, so would you be okay with avoiding it at home?”
  • “I am not comfortable being touched this way, could you touch me here instead?”
  • “I am having a hard time currently. Are you in a mental space to listen?” 
  • “I am so sorry you are having a tough time but I am not in the mental space to take in all this information. Do you think we can revisit this conversation in a few hours?”
  • “I can stay only for an hour today” 
  • “I would love to help out, but I have a lot on my plate right now, is there any other time I could help?”
  • “I do not want to have sex tonight, can we cuddle instead?” 
  • “ I am really into ______, is there something you are comfortable with?”
  • “ I know we disagree, but I do not like it when you belittle me.” 
  • “I am not comfortable paying the entire restaurant bill, do you think we can split it?” 

An example of violation of a boundary: 

A- “ Hey, I was thinking of us again today and got excited thinking about how fun it would be for us to move in together. I even went to an apartment seeing nearby and I think it is perfect for us” 

B- “But I told you I am not ready for it yet, can we wait for a few more months?” 

A- “ I know but we have come so far in our relationship, I love you and want to care for you. We are not getting any longer so why not try it?

B- “I love you too, but I don’t like you making decisions for me, it is not healthy and makes me feel very uncomfortable. It feels like you are taking control of my life decisions.”

A- “You are being selfish, I do everything for you and now you are blaming me for everything.”

Every relationship goes through conflict over things, but when your boundaries are being crossed repeatedly it could benefit if you and your partner take up the help of a professional. We at AtEase have mental health professions who are skilled in addressing interpersonal and relationship issues. They can help you both learn how to communicate effectively, cope with some of the issues and listen to your partner to make them feel valid and understood. If your partner refuses to go for counseling, instead of forcing them you can focus on your mental well-being and go for individual counseling. You can also work on building a support system outside of the relationship or think about ending it if it is unhealthy. 

Ways to set boundaries in your relationship and how: 

It is also important for you to know your rights in a relationship before you set boundaries. Here are some universal rights that each partner has in a relationship: 

  • To feel validated 
  • To feel safe in that relationship
  • Absence of physical, emotional or verbal abuse 
  • To be allowed to say no and have it respected without any force
  • To have your privacy and boundaries respected
  • To be heard and understood to 
  • To be valued and appreciated

Let’s now look into healthy ways to set boundaries in your relationship: 

Step 1: Identify what you need from the relationship: You could begin with a little bit of self reflection and introspection. Get an idea of what you need from it either by exploring the situations of a relationship, as mentioned above, or by identifying your emotions the next time you are in a situation that makes you feel angry or discomfort as that may be a sign that a boundary has been crossed. 

Step 2: Communicate with your partner: Communicate your likes and dislikes of a particular situation with your partner. Remember, make requests and not demands as requests put you both in the same team without imposing anything on your partner. For example: “Would you be willing to give me space when I am working from home?” instead of “I need space when I am working from home”. 

Step 3: Understand and explore how the boundary makes you feel: After the boundary has been established and followed by your partner explore how you feel about it. Does it make you feel safe? Does it make you feel content? Are there any other changes you would like to bring to it? 

Step 4: Enforcing the Boundary: This is one of the most important parts of setting boundaries. It is counterproductive to set boundaries without any consequences as this may lead people to take advantage of you. Oftentimes when a boundary gets crossed we get angry but do not know what to do beyond that. Without consequences you are giving the person permission to continue doing the undesirable behavior. Yelling does not count as a consequence. Here are some examples of consequences: 

  • “If you do not show up on time and make me wait for hours without informing me, I will call you on your behavior and let you know how I feel.” 
  • “If you continue with this behavior, I will have to consider all my options which will also include leaving this relationship,” 
  • “If you continue to disrespect my personal space, I will either leave the room/house or ask you to leave.” 

If these sound harsh to you, remember they are not punishments but an act of self-love and self-care. Consequences ensure that the other person can’t continue to treat you in a way that is unacceptable. 

Think carefully about how you can set your consequences clearly and non-emotionally. While consequences do not have to be set in stone, they do have to be firm. 

Step 5: Responding in situations boundaries have not been formed: If a situation with your partner makes you uncomfortable, have an honest conversation with them. It could be as simple as: “Hey, I really don’t feel comfortable when you talk about my mental health issues with other people. Do you think next time you can change the topic and talk about something else?” 

Step 6: Be assertive: Setting healthy boundaries is your right. State your boundaries clearly effectively and be sure they know that you will not like it if a boundary is crossed and why it bothers you. 

Step 7: Reciprocate: A relationship is made up of two or more people, be sure to ask your partner what boundaries they would like to establish and do your best to respect them. 

Caution while setting boundaries: 

  • Respect your partner: While communicating your boundaries be respectful and honor their needs and limitations as well. Do not impose or force your partner to do something but navigate your way through it such that you both find a place where each person’s needs and boundaries are being respected and honored. 
  • Use I- statements:  I- statements makes it easier to allow the conversation to focus on your needs instead of blaming or finding faults in your partner. You can start these statements with an “I” and it will allow you to express your feelings clearly, for example: “I feel” or “I need”. 

Tips that can guide you with the ways to set boundaries in your relationship: 

  • Feel your feelings: It is important for us to be mindful of our feelings to know what our boundaries are. You need to use your feelings as a guide and trust them. For example: anger and anxiety usually indicate that a boundary has been crossed or that you do not feel comfortable with something. Joy and love indicate that your boundaries are being respected. 
  • Take action: Your boundaries can only be set once you communicate it to the people. You will be communicating what your boundaries are and what you feel when they are crossed. Communicate clearly, respectfully and firmly . 
  • Take ownership: Remember that boundaries are yours to set and hold. No one gets to decide what is acceptable to you besides you. Similarly, if someone is not respecting your boundary, you do not have to wait around for them to do so, enforce the consequences you have set and take care of yourself. 

Boundary setting is not something that happens just once in our life, it is a continuous process and while it may feel scary and vulnerable to do so, it is important for you and your relationship. If you are going through mental health issues like severe depression, anxiety or low self esteem, setting boundaries may make you feel selfish or guilty, but remember they are important for both your and your partner’s mental well being. 

Finally, remember that while setting boundaries for yourself is important, it is equally important for you to respect and not cross your partner’s set boundaries. As mentioned there are a lot many ways to set boundaries in your relationship which help you lead a healthy life.

Should you be looking for assistance and more guidance on relationship issues, ways to set boundaries in your relationship, please reach out to us at https://mentalhealthatease.com to get the best relationship counseling in India

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