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5 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries In Your Relationship

A woman puts her hands up, gesturing “no more” as a way to set healthy boundaries

Boundaries are important for everyone, including couples. Here's how to set healthy boundaries with each other, and how couples therapy can help you do so.

Key takeaways:

  • All relationships have boundaries, and they’re especially important in romantic relationships.

  • Boundaries help protect you – and your partner – and manage expectations.

  • Healthy relationships have some defining characteristics and qualities, such as good communication, empathy, and respect.

  • Key areas of a romantic relationship where specific boundaries will be needed include relationship expectations, financial obligations, and sex.

  • A boundary is not a means to wield control over another person or strip them of their agency and autonomy. This is a red flag.

  • Major life transitions may cause boundaries to need renegotiation.

  • Couples therapy can help you and your partner set boundaries by navigating major life transitions, learning better communication skills, and breaking unhelpful roles and patterns.

All relationships have boundaries of some sort. These boundaries help you – and those around you – manage expectations. They also help others know what is okay and not okay for you. This provides you with protection.

Boundaries can be a source of mutual respect, protection, support, and expectations when they are laid out and communicated. For example, your boss knows whether or not it's okay to contact you outside of your scheduled work hours. A friend knows not to call you past 10 p.m. These are examples of setting healthy boundaries for your respect and emotional protection.

Boundaries can be even more important in intimate relationships because intimacy requires trust. Sometimes when you’re in a relationship, lines become blurred or crossed, and it can be difficult to navigate. We talk about why it’s important to understand boundaries, how to set them, and how to introduce and renegotiate them at any time.

Examples of healthy boundaries in action

Setting boundaries is important for a healthy relationship. In a healthy relationship, both parties will:

  • Be considerate of the other person’s feelings

  • Show gratitude

  • Communicate with honesty and transparency

  • Ask permission

  • Allow autonomy, agency, and avoid codependency

  • Hold space for the other person’s emotions

  • Take responsibility for their actions

  • Demonstrate respect for differences in opinion

If your relationship is missing any of these qualities, it may be worth examining with a couples counselor. He or she will work with you to establish respectful boundaries like these.

Areas of a relationship where boundaries are needed

Each person and their relationship are different. But, regardless of individual circumstances, there are some common themes in all romantic relationships where boundaries are definitely needed. Here are some situations:

  • Recognizing how much personal space you need, and communicating that.

  • Respecting the personal space of others, both physically and emotionally.

  • Ideals for communication – Are there times you can’t or don’t want to be contacted? Do you prefer one method of communication over another? (i.e., texting instead of calling).

  • How much time you’ll spend together and when you’ll see each other.

  • Relationship expectations – Are you going to be monogamous? What would be considered cheating or breaching trust for you?

  • Financial boundaries – Who will pay for what?

  • Sexual boundaries – What are you okay with doing in the bedroom? What are you not okay with doing?

It’s totally normal for boundaries to necessitate more attention in some areas than others, and for those areas to shift as circumstances change. Renegotiating boundaries will be required in some cases – and that’s okay.

Red flags to look out for

Not all boundaries are healthy. Sometimes people present something as a boundary, but it’s really a control issue. Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • If it limits your options, it’s likely an unhealthy boundary (i.e., restricting you from seeing friends and family or policing your clothing choices).

  • Watch out for control issues disguised as boundaries. Boundaries and controlling behaviors are not the same things.

  • Boundaries shouldn’t be weaponized to try and change your partner or their behavior.

If you notice any of these behaviors – or are engaging in them yourself – it’s definitely time to renegotiate your expectations…and possibly even evaluate your safety in the relationship, because intimate partner violence is usually about power and control.

Ways to set healthy boundaries

Being intentional with your boundaries can make a world of difference. Here are some tips to help you be intentional with the ones you set.

  • Make your boundaries clear from the beginning

  • Communicate changes/renegotiate as needed

  • Effective communication is necessary

  • Use “I” statements

  • Remember you’re entitled to have space

If you’re struggling to identify and set boundaries, speaking to a therapist can help.

Things that may cause a shift in boundaries

Major life transitions or events may lead to shifting boundaries. Here are a few circumstances, for example:

  • Starting a new job

  • Experiencing a loss, such as death

  • Having children

  • Moving homes

You and your partner can work together to navigate these changes together – and you can always get professional help when needed. Couples therapy is recommended for major life transitions for this reason, even if your relationship is not at risk or currently in crisis.

Couples therapy can also help you and your partner improve your communication skills, so you can get better at communicating your needs and boundaries with each other. It can also help you and your partner break unhelpful and repetitive patterns in your relationship.

Get support from a qualified, caring therapist in the Miami area

Your relationship doesn’t need to be at risk, or in crisis, for you to attend couples therapy. If you need help setting healthy boundaries with each other, couples therapy is a great option. Having the support from a highly-trained therapist who can hold space and guide you and your partner through the therapeutic process can be healing for you, your partner, and your relationship.

The team at Love Discovery is ready to welcome you with open arms. If you’re ready to get started in therapy to help facilitate healing within yourself and your interpersonal relationships, make an appointment with any of our therapists today. Feeling hesitant about how we can help? Call 786.571.4636 for a free 20-minute consultation.

We are here to help you improve your mental health and your relationship, and support you during a challenging time in your life.


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