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Forming boundaries in 2023

Forming boundaries in 2023

The most difficult thing about forming boundaries is accepting that some people won’t like, understand, or agree with you. Once you grow beyond pleasing others, setting your standards becomes easier. Not being liked by everyone is a small consequence when you consider the overall reward of healthier relationships,” says Nedra Tawwab, award-winning therapist and the writer of the book ‘Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself’.

As the term suggests, setting boundaries in a relationship means forming an agreement between yourself and another person or with a group of people. This person or group of people could have a relationship with you that is purely romantic, platonic, or even familial. Boundaries in each relationship are important to demarcate where one draws the line of acceptance. It dictates what you allow and disallow in a relationship, and how you can smoothly function in one. There are many types of boundaries in today’s time such as emotional, physical, psychological, and even sexual. They help us form healthy relationships with mutual respect and well-being. Hence, all of these boundaries should be non-negotiable.

Before we fully delve into understanding how you can set boundaries, let’s understand why boundaries are crucial. You might have heard of the phrase ‘forming boundaries and drawing the line’ more often than ever in the last few years. It is majorly because in the last few years, people have started to understand concepts of self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-assurance. That is how people have started to carve their way into forming boundaries in their relationships.

Why setting boundaries is significant

Once you set certain boundaries in a relationship, you prevent people from taking undue advantage of you. You will realise that not every little thing in your workplace, family, or friendships bothers you or worries you anymore.

You will slowly start to realise that because of these boundaries, you are not sucked into unnecessary dramas, and you can avoid unfortunate arguments and pointless confrontations. Forming boundaries can also help you extraordinarily in becoming more self-dependent. Co-dependency in any relationship shows a lack of emotional boundaries. It shows an unhealthy dynamic where two people are dependent on each other in a dysfunctional way. Clear and precise boundaries in a relationship prevent both parties from getting lost in the relationship. It allows them to enjoy the relationship and also peacefully attend to their own needs and desires.

Being honest is one of the simplest yet the hardest choices one makes in a relationship. Having clarity of thought on what you want from yourself and the other person can bring calmness and peace in a relationship. Forming boundaries and being honest with your partner, friend, family member, boss etc. can help you create healthier and more sustainable relationships.

Boundaries are definitely a great way to avoid drama and ugly confrontations, and thereby ensuring mental peace. Boundaries can help you find more time and space for you to grow and develop as a human being. It can help you become more sensitive to your own self. “The ability to say no to yourself is a gift. If you can resist your burgers, change your habits, and say yes to only what you deem truly meaningful, you’ll be practising healthy boundaries. It’s your responsibility to care for yourself without excuses,” says Tawwab.

I hope by now you understand why it is crucial to set boundaries and how it ensures sanity and mental peace in relationships. I also hope you understand how boundaries support inner growth and perspective. Now, let’s understand how you can protect your needs and priorities when it comes to forming boundaries in a relationship. But the question still stands: where do we begin? How do we communicate all of this effectively without sounding like a fool? Also, how do you establish consequences for crossed boundaries? How do you do all this without damaging the relationship?

Strategies for setting strong boundaries in a relationship

Learn to say no
The number one tactic in forming boundaries is learning how to say “no”, whenever needed. Saying no can be extremely hard, especially when saying no to your friends, family, partner, or boss. However, it is imperative to understand that forming boundaries is no child’s play. It takes a lot of courage, difficult conversations, and misunderstandings to set clear boundaries. Why is it hard for people to say no? Saying no can seem hard because first, you don’t want people to get upset. Second, you don’t want to offend anybody. Third, there is a threat of losing them because of disagreements due to different viewpoints. There are multiple reasons why someone might feel fearful about saying no but it is essential to start somewhere.

Consequences of actions
It is key to establish consequences for when your boundaries are being crossed. As the title of the article suggests, it is vital to understand that if you draw a line, a person is not supposed to cross that line. However, if they do, start by confronting the other person about the breach. Explain why the boundary is important to you and how it helps you as an individual and both of you. If the breach continuously persists, there should be serious consequences to such actions. This could include ending the relationship or even taking a break for that matter.

Communication is key
Communicating your needs and priorities is extremely vital. Once you know what you want from a relationship or how you want it to function, communicating it will help the other person recognise and acknowledge your needs. Ensure that you are not aggressive or threatening. Use direct, verbal, and assertive language.

Reach out
Seeking timely support is imperative. If you need help setting boundaries or communicating your boundaries to people, it is okay to reach out to a third person or a professional who can help you understand the process. They can help you understand the process and work better. It could include reaching out to a close family member, a therapist, or a coach. Yes, being in therapy and seeking professional support is hard and takes time and effort but with enough sessions, one can learn to set strong and healthy boundaries that work for you, your friendships, and your relationships.

How to successfully form boundaries in any relationship

Ask yourself
You should always know what you want before sharing and communicating the same with someone else. What do you want from a relationship? What are your needs and priorities? Set them straight and then communicate the same externally.

Constant check
From time to time, check in with yourself and your relationships. This will help you understand how these boundaries are serving you and the relationship. Boundaries are also allowed to change over time as per the progression of a relationship. It is of use to have conversations around these boundaries when there is a need for change.

Types of boundaries
One should know what boundaries to be formed in what type of relationship. Financial boundaries with your partner and family, sexual boundaries with your partner, emotional boundaries with your siblings. Separate boundary settings would mean different needs, discussions, and patterns.

Mutual respect
Respect goes both ways in all relationships. As humans, we crave respect, admiration, and affection. Mutual respect brings us to the last segment of the article. As you want people in your life to respect your boundaries, it is pertinent to respect other people’s boundaries as well. Let’s understand how we can respond when someone else sets a boundary with us

Listening and understanding the other person who is coming ahead to form a boundary is very important. It is crucial to receive information rather than prepare for an argument. Listen to understand, not to respond.

It is paramount to accept their need to form a boundary. Listen to what they have to share. Also, communicate your needs and feelings around the same time to reach a middle point and a compromise. Try to accept the other person’s perspective instead of jumping to assumptions and judgments. Apologise, if needed. Sometimes, we don’t understand or comprehend situations, and it is okay to make mistakes. You might have overstepped someone’s boundaries, and they might have felt offended or violated over something. It is okay to apologise and accept where you went wrong. You must realise how your actions can affect your close ones and make amends accordingly.

“People don’t know what you want. It’s your job to make it clear. Clarity saves relationships,” shares Tawwab. Hence, it is essential to understand that human beings are not mind readers. If you want something, have certain expectations, or want clarity with your needs and priorities, only one thing can help you and that is setting boundaries.

Astha Anand

Astha Anand

Astha is a therapist and the founder of theperspectiveco. Best described as a learner learning to unlearn and relearn. She is on a mission to normalise therapy and create awareness.