Whether you are single, in a relationship or trying to get back your ex, having healthy boundaries is as important as respectful and validating communication.
Healthy boundaries not only make us feel safe in a relationship but also make the person we are in a relationship with feel safe.
What is a healthy boundary?
A boundary is that defining space which clarifies “you” and “me” — where you end and where the other begins.
Having healthy boundaries means that others respect your personal space and do not intrude on your privacy. It also means that you give others their space and respect their boundaries. You’re deeply connected to them, but you still maintain a sense of your own identity and don’t allow yourself to be eclipsed by the other person, or swallowed up the relationship.
Why is it important to have healthy boundaries?
1. Boundaries help define our value
Imagine that your real estate agent told you that you could get a higher price if you repaired the broken hinges and painted the fence around your property. The benefit of the fence appears in the value of the property. And when someone buys the property they will get some benefit from the fence in addition to the value they get from the rest of the property. This is the principle behind having clear boundaries.
A poorly built fence can reduce property value. Weak or no boundaries give men and women the sense that you are just fishing for anything that your net catches and they just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even if you make an external show of strength you may actually do quite a lot more compromising and placating than you are consciously aware of.
When you have boundaries, you can say “no” and still be loved and respected.
It’s the opposite of being when afraid to say anything for fear of coming across as rude or needy. People walk all over you and treat you disrespectfully because your silence or inability to say “no” sends the message that it’s okay or acceptable to do those things to you.
With healthy boundaries, it’s clear to the other person what’s acceptable to you and what’s not. And when they violate your boundaries or do something that is not acceptable to you, you can say your peace without having to “confront” (which like an attack to many), accuse or blame someone, and in a way that protects the relationship (the “us”).
2. Boundaries communicate our self-esteem
You have more credibility and earn more respect because it tells others that you value yourself and value the people you let into your life.
All that said, setting boundaries is not a more sophisticated form of manipulation. Some people will say they are setting boundaries, when in fact they are attempting to control and manipulate.
The difference between setting a healthy boundary way and manipulating is: when we set a boundary we let go of the outcome. That is, it’s about you, not about what you can get from the other person.
Boundaries also don’t have to be too rigid that they feel like a wall or too loose that they are easily misinterpreted. Walls keep you inside and keeps everyone else out, good boundaries open you up enough to allow others in, but also keeps you safe enough not to allow yourself to be hurt by them.
It’ also important that if you are in a relationship, the other person is aware of what your boundaries are. Sometimes people violate out boundaries because we have not communicated what is acceptable to us and what is not, or we communicated but not clearly enough.