All relationships have boundaries. Some boundaries are discussed, others are assumed, and some are only discovered when they’ve been crossed.
Boundaries are a way of assuring that your needs are met in a relationship. They are also a way of assuring that your values and expectations aren’t violated. Boundaries can preserve your privacy and independence. Boundaries can help you build healthier, better relationships.
How to Identify Your Boundaries in Relationships
Everyone has boundaries, but few people have the same boundaries, and that’s why it’s so important to set the boundaries in your relationship. Having a clear understanding of each other’s boundaries in relationships is actually one of the most loving things you can do for each other and your relationship!
Consider your boundaries in the following areas. There are no right or wrong answers, as long as both parties are in agreement.
Who is going to pay for what? How much will you spend on birthdays and Christmas? How much is too much? Should everything be split 50:50? Does the man pay for dates? Does the person with the larger salary carry the brunt of the load?
These are all important questions to cover to avoid misunderstanding and hurt in the future.
Does work always take precedence? Should a career-minded partner be willing to skip working evenings to spend time with the other person?
For some people, work is an unnecessary evil that funds the rest of their life. For others, it is their life. Figuring out your commitment and ambitions in the workplace is an important part of adult relationships.
Some people like to keep it conservative, while others prefer to dress up like a Martian and swing from the chandelier. Everyone has a sexual limit, and it’s rare that two people have the same limits.
A lot of drama can be avoided by understanding what your partner will and won’t do, what they want to and don’t want to do in the bedroom.
Some people insist on dissecting their partner’s past. Others believe that the past is irrelevant and should stay in the past. What are you willing to reveal? What do you want to know?
Speak to each other honestly and openly about where you stand on past relationships.
Do you want them to come to the family barbecue? Or do you want them to keep their distance? Is it okay for your boyfriend to call your mother or sister for advice about your relationship?
If you have children from a previous relationship, how do you want to include the children in your new relationship?
Family can become a heated topic. The best thing is speak about it to understand each other and get on the same page.
Do you want your new girlfriend to spend time with your friends, or should she stay away for the first six months? Are your friends now his friends by default, or should he go somewhere else if he needs a friend?
Friendships can add a complicated dynamic to a new relationship and you should openly discuss what you feel comfortable with.
Together Time and Fun Time
How much time will you spend together? Are Friday nights expected? Is it unacceptable not to communicate for a week? How much time together is too much? Maybe you only want to see your boyfriend once a week.
Is staying for breakfast too domestic for you? Should weekends be reserved for each other? Do you vacation with your friends without your new romantic partner, or do you take them along?
Figuring out both your expectations of time in the relationship is crucial to smooth sailing.
In the early stages of your relationship, do you like to continue playing the field, or just stick to one person? Some people prefer open relationships even after they’ve been together for years.
Make sure you know where you stand to avoid conflict and misunderstanding.
Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
The most important thing you can do is discuss your boundaries in relationships with your dating partner openly. It’s unfair to expect someone to follow a boundary that you’re keeping a secret. Relationships require communication. Why leave anything to chance? Let the other person know what you expect.
Be prepared to enforce your boundaries. When you are tolerant of your boundaries being crossed, you can safely assume it will happen again. When someone regularly fails to respect your boundaries, it’s a sign that you could be with the wrong person.
It’s just as important to understand the other person’s boundaries and respect them. If you’re both on the same page, you have a better chance of enjoying a healthy, long-lasting relationship.
Sherry Gaba helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re struggling with co-dependency, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break-up. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com or sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program. Buy her books Love Smacked: How to Break the Cycle of Relationship Addiction and Codependency to find Everlasting Love or Infinite Recovery