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For many people, the word “boundaries” is not associated with a healthy, long-term romantic relationship.

Why in the world would you need boundaries between yourself and someone you love? This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what boundary-setting entails. It’s not about setting up obstacles or creating distance. It’s about maintaining balance.

Contrary to the popular usage of the term, healthy boundaries bring you closer to your loved one. You each get to define your own needs while practicing and honing your communication skills. You establish mutual respect as your non-negotiable baseline. Healthy boundaries in a relationship are both productive and positive.

Examples of Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship

Of course, there is an infinite number of potential healthy boundaries. Here are a couple of examples to give you an idea of what we’re talking about:

Being Comfortable With Saying and/or Hearing “No”

Neither of you should dominate or control. Both of you are free to express a preference or make a suggestion. Both of you are unafraid to politely differ. And if it’s you who hears “no,” you respect that perspective even if you’re frustrated.

Independence

You don’t have to do everything together. Having autonomy is your right and it’s a great way to keep your relationship strong. You are free to have your own interests and opinions, your own social circle, and your own (physical and emotional) space.

Privacy

This is an essential conversation in the digital age. Before any issues can arise, talk with your partner about navigating the realm of texts, DMs, and social media interactions. Work together to agree on a mindset but accept that both of you are free to request changes and tweaks.

Let’s move forward with some nuts and bolts information.

How to Set Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship

Communicate Directly and Respectfully

When conflict occurs, it can be tempting to slide into a passive-aggressive mode. This is the opposite of healthy. Commit together to direct communication that embodies compassion, curiosity, and respect. You can’t always get what you want. But that is never an excuse to be mean, rude, or aggressive.

Choose Radical Honesty 

Boundaries can be a touchy topic. The best way to address such issues involves transparency. Vagueness may make you a little more comfortable at the moment. However, in the long term, it can lead to a major disagreement. Try making a list of your needs and then do your best to articulate them honestly and bluntly. Pledge together to create a connection in which it is safe to respectfully say whatever is on your mind!

Stay Curious 

Listen closely when your partner is expressing a need. This is a golden opportunity to learn more about them and more about your relationship. The point is not always about how and where you disagree. Rather, such scenarios can be teaching moments. You get a window into your soulmate’s mind and heart. Listen closely, stay curious, and maintain an open mind.

Ask For Help When You Need It

Some of the most frustrating and confusing times in your life are when you are in conflict with your partner. Yet, these moments are normal and inevitable. The key is working together to develop the coping skills to navigate the rough patches. One of the best ways to start this process is to consult with a therapist.

Committing to weekly sessions with a skilled and unbiased guide is a direct path toward establishing healthy boundaries. If you feel you could use some help in this department, we should talk soon. Let’s set up a free and confidential consultation.

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Therapy for Men is a practice led by Dr. Rick Pomfret which offers counseling and psychotherapy services tailored to the needs of men. Their services encompass anxiety therapy, depression therapy, relationship therapy, men’s issues and support for those navigating life transitions or divorce. With offices in San Francisco and Corte Madera, Therapy4Men provides convenient access to mental health care for men in the Bay Area and online across California.