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“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” – Brene Brown


What are Boundaries?


I like to explain boundaries as the limits and guidelines we set and hold in place to inform other people (and ourselves) how we want and need to be treated, in order to stay happy, healthy, safe and well.


Boundaries allow us to feel secure and confident, they bring order to our lives. When we strengthen our boundaries we get clearer on our needs and this empowers us to decide how we want to be treated in relationships with others.

Even if we don’t feel the need to express our boundaries out-loud, just having them clear in our own heads, allows us to relax and be ourselves.


Here are some categories of boundaries and examples for each one that specifically come up in romantic relationships:





Communicating, listening, respecting and validating each other’s feelings and needs in the relationship. Separating your moods from your partner’s.


If something goes wrong in your partner’s day, you don’t take on the responsibility for their feelings to the extent that it affects you negatively. There’s a difference between listening and being supportive and taking on someone else’s moods.


How you will deal with and communicate during conflict, arguments or disagreements.




Difference in opinions, beliefs, values. Its ok to differ on some things but you both need to decide which things are acceptable to disagree on and those that are deal-breakers.


Any differences of beliefs, values and opinions should be respected and one person should not attempt to change the other’s views. EVEN if it means that the gap is too wide for the relationship to continue.




You should both respect each other’s time, lateness, cancelling at the last minute etc can be an issue here. Wanting space for yourself and allowing your partner the space and time that they need for themselves too.


Time to do things that are important to you for hobbies, friends, family etc.

It’s healthy to do things outside of the relationship. Spending time together, date nights and quality time is a factor here.




Who pays for what, do you split the bill on dates, if you’re prepared to borrow or lend money to each other and others.


Money and finances can be a tricky subject to discuss but for obvious reasons it’s super important to make decisions like who pays for what together.

When you live together it’s doubly crucial to talk and agree about finances.




Every person has the right to consent or not consent to any sex, who, when, how and where you have sex. You can set limits for what you’re comfortable doing, trying and each partner should respect the other’s limits.


Talking about sex can be difficult or unfamiliar if you’re not used to discussing it openly. But it’s definitely worthwhile talking about sex your likes, dislikes with your partner.




Your personal and physical space, are you happy to be affectionate in public, hand holding, kissing, cuddling in the company of others and how comfortable you are with these things?

How important is physical affection to you?




Respecting each other’s privacy, phones, computers etc. how do you feel about questions

about your past?


Of course it’s good to be open, but perhaps there is a level of detail from past relationships that isn’t helpful or comfortable to share with each other.




If you’re living together what are you happy to do around the home and what do you expect your partner to do towards your lives together. If one cooks, does the other clear up? What about the housework, arranging household bills etc.


How about arranging date nights, holidays and social events? How important is it to you that your partner does some of this organising? Or do you prefer to do the majority of planning etc?


How to talk About Boundaries?


If we have experienced toxic relationships in the past we may not always have known what our boundaries are until someone crosses them. It’s a good idea to communicate your needs and non-negotiables early on in the relationship.


You can do this by asking your partner about their needs and boundaries. Ask them early on what the deal-breakers are for them in a relationship and what are some of their expectations of you as their partner.


You can then reciprocate by talking about what is important for you. Discussing boundaries and needs is an ongoing process in relationship as you get to know each other better, don’t expect everything to be sorted in one discussion, but by talking about these things early in a committed relationships you start as you mean to go on.


You don’t have to lay out your boundaries in one go or even communicate them all at all, (as most of them will be respected naturally when you’re in a loving relationship).


The important thing is knowing them yourself and therefore knowing when they are being pushed.


Some Points to Remember when Communicating your Boundaries:




You have a right to change your mind and you shouldn’t feel guilty for changing your decision about something, as long as you are clear about communicating your new choice (especially if it affects others).


If you let someone do something once, it doesn’t mean you have to let to happen again. You can change your mind and set new standards of behaviour. If the person says something like; “Well it never bothered you before.” You can reply with “Well it does now.” Simple as that.




You can support and acknowledge your partner’s feelings but if they put the blame on you via guilt, let them know you will not accept responsibility for their actions.




Remember that the whole point of having guidelines and boundaries is to be able to look after your own wellbeing. Learn to say ’NO’ if something goes against your values or impacts you negatively.




Couples should maintain their own separate identities and that is why you were attracted to one another in the first place. It’s crucial to not let someone ‘blur’ their own feelings or opinions with yours. Neither of you should assume the other feels the same or try to speak for each other.





1)  ✅ If your partner crosses one of your boundaries, process your emotion first. You can journal/write down why you felt upset and if you’re feeling triggered use some deep breathing or maybe the 7-11 breath (inhaling through the nose to the count of 7 and exhale to the count of 11, do this a few times until you feel calmer). Both of these actions will balance your nervous system to allow you to feel more relaxed.


2) ✅ When you feel calmer, state your boundary clearly and make it known that you won’t tolerate this boundary being crossed. Say why it bothers you and mention the behaviour, rather than being critical of the person. State what you need to happen instead clearly and what you will do if the boundary is crossed in future.


For example: “When you criticize my opinion it makes me feel you don’t respect that we think differently about this. In future I need you to listen to my opinion as I do yours. If you can’t do this for me it shows a lack of resect for me that I can’t put up with.”


OR “I don’t like being late for social events. If you are late again, I will make my own way there.”


OR “ It upsets me when you are irritable and snappy with me. If you do this again I will leave the room. I won’t talk to you until you agree to be respectful.”


3) ✅ Be loving: Say that the relationship is important to you and that you are setting boundaries because you want to be with this person.


4) ✅ Reciprocate by asking your partner what their boundaries are and respect and honor them the best that you can.

I hope this is helpful for you if you're already in a relationship or looking for a healthy one!

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