Boundaries are essential in any type of relationship, from friendships to romantic relationships to relations with family and coworkers. They function as guidelines or rules for the relationship and its interactions, helping to define what is OK to do or say in the relationship and what is not.
Examples of Boundary Setting
Unsure of what boundary setting in a relationship looks like? Here are some examples:
- Privacy Boundaries: Relating to how much you share or disclose with someone
- Sexual Boundaries: Relating to how, when, or if it is OK to touch someone
- Digital Communication Boundaries: Relating to how often you communicate and what times are appropriate to do so
- Communication Boundaries: Relating to things that are acceptable or unacceptable to say or discuss
3 Tips for Setting Boundaries in Friendships and Romantic Relationships
1. Communicate Openly
Boundary setting is all about open, honest communication because you don’t want to leave anyone in the dark or create gray areas around what is expected. The best way to sound boundaries in any relationship is to clearly communicate the boundary you’re seeking (for example, no late-night texts or ranting calls from your friend). It is also helpful to express to that person why you need to create that boundary in the relationship. You could say, for example, that “those late-night texts and calls are really disruptive for my sleep and relaxation time, and those things are important to me.”
2. Take Care of Yourself First
You know the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup?” Well, that’s one reason why boundary setting in friendships and other relationships is so vital. To keep it simple, you need to take care of yourself first and foremost. You can’t be your best self if someone is constantly draining your energy or expecting you to drop everything in your life in order to be there for them. Boundary setting isn’t selfish, so try not to feel guilty about wanting to pour back into your own cup. Remember, you are your home base. So treat yourself with love, kindness, and compassion.
3. Recognize the Value in the Relationship
Setting boundaries doesn’t mean you don’t value the relationship or want to cut off all ties. It’s actually the opposite since setting healthy boundaries can help you maintain relationships that are important to you. Communicating with a friend or loved one that you want to set some boundaries in the relationship can be difficult for them to hear, even when you come at it from a loving place. To make it easier for them to accept, make it clear how much the relationship means to you and that setting boundaries is a way to preserve all of the love and joy within the relationship.