Most people would likely agree that relationships, especially romantic ones, are delicate, breathing, living creations that constantly evolve and change over time.
The Importance of Boundaries
While they may start out great, relationships may not always end up that way over time, and often, are not sustainable. In many cases, they don’t result in something that’s as equitable as each person originally had anticipated.
And when one partner’s beliefs and values become out of sync and are no longer aligned, one or more of the individuals typically ends up unhappy.
By definition, a boundary is anything that marks a limit. Psychological limits define personal dignity. When we say, “You just crossed a line,” we are speaking about a psychological limit that marks the distinction between behavior that does not cause emotional harm and behavior that causes emotional and/or psychological harm. It’s all about The Importance of Boundaries.
Healthy personal boundaries mean taking responsibility for your own actions, thoughts, and emotions while not taking on feeling responsible for the actions or emotions of another person or a partner.
Those with poor boundaries often are either people who take too much responsibility for the emotions and actions of others and/or those who expect others to take on the responsibility for their own emotions and actions. In many cases, these kinds of individuals commonly end up in relationships together.
Some people tend to lack boundaries due to an elevated level of neediness, or co-dependence. Those who are needy are desperate for love from others and to receive it, they sometimes sacrifice their own identity and toss their boundaries out the window.
Also, those who blame others for their own emotions or actions often do this because they think that if they put responsibility on those they love, they’ll receive affection they have been searching for and think they want and need. If they continually appear like a victim, they think that eventually, someone will come and “save them.”
In my experience, both personally and professionally, I believe individuals who take blame for others’ emotions are usually looking to save someone. They think that if they can “fix” their partner, then they will receive appreciation and affection they want.
Or that they somehow have a duty to do so. This is quite common, especially in my clients who are nurses and must understand The Importance of Boundaries.
While these two types of people are initially often drawn to each other due to similarities, ironically, they both fail entirely to meet other’s needs. Ultimately, they both only serve to enable neediness and sub-par self-esteem that is likely to keep them from having their needs met.
What is Chronic and Acute Boundary-Breaking
Unfortunately, boundary-breaking creates unnecessary karma for both partners in a relationship.
There are two types of boundary-breaking:
- Chronic boundary-breakers are all about control and manipulation to run their agenda of some type either personally or professionally. Chronic boundary-breaking is particularly manipulative and can become outright exhausting. Who does it? Anyone from your boss and co-workers to family and friends. It can be especially tricky in workplace and even trickier when it comes to immediate family members. Chronic boundary breakers continue to breach boundaries again and again over time even when other person has gone to great lengths to set very clear, firm boundaries. In short, they just can’t help themselves.
- Acute boundary breakers are usually more of a one-time event when one person steps way over a line to control a situation, run their agenda or get their way. We’ve all been there when you’ve been working on a project for months and a person of influence steps in to thwart all progress with an “over my dead body” mentality. What critical care nurse or energy medicine practitioner hasn’t experienced out of town family member who shows up out of nowhere demanding to halt treatment regardless of what patient and other family members have been educated on and agreed to? The results stemming from acute boundary-breaking can be devastating for everyone involved.
Why It’s Important to Have Firm, Loving Boundaries and How to Set Them
Someone with a firm, loving and strong boundaries realize that it’s unreasonable to expect two people to accommodate each other 24/7 and fulfill every need their partner has all of the time. He or she realizes that they could possibly hurt someone’s feelings every once in a while, but at the end of the day, they can’t determine how others feel.
Someone with strong boundaries understands and appreciates that healthy relationships are not purely about controlling someone else’s emotions, but instead, it’s about each person supporting the other in their growth. With understanding of The Importance of Boundaries, one can live a healthy and balanced life.
When it comes to boundary setting, first step is to state and share your limits. Identify your physical, emotional, and spiritual limits – these feelings and your intuition can help guide them. Fortunately, when you are self-aware, it can help you honor your values, feelings, and self-worth.
It’s also important to be direct with others and to develop healthy communication straight out of gate, especially if the relationship is still in its infancy. Being assertive means confidently sharing with another person your boundaries and communicating with them that you expect nothing but respect.
These types of communication skills can make or break relationships. Without knowing how to engage in healthy communication, we tend to open ourselves up to more stress and additional challenges that can risk a healthy relationship. The Importance of Boundaries by Jennifer Marcenelle is a thorough guide.
Also, keep in mind that high-quality communication relies significantly on good listening skills. If you or the person you’re communicating with do not actively listen to each other with love, there is no genuine understanding or foundation for growing together. And even worse, there’s no acceptance.
Here are some tips to encourage effective communication and set boundaries in relationships:
- Listen, listen, and listen some more. Make an effort to actively hear your partner’s perspective or point of view. Stop planning what you are going to do or say next and just focus and listen.
- Make eye contact. Using eye contact shows you are respectful and engaged. It also exhibits confidence.
- State and restate what you are hearing. This strategy prevents miscommunication and, again, illustrates to your partner that you are truly listening.
- Look inside yourself. Do you know the motive behind the words you decide to share? Is your goal to provoke or distract, or to genuinely communicate?
- Remember trigger points. Be aware of this in your partner, then, resist the temptation to use them.
- Don’t forget your trigger points. Similar to the last point, resist feeling the need to react.
- Agree to disagree. In some cases, practice respectful acceptance of difference and then move on to the next topic.
- Use the power of apology. Take ownership if you are at fault, especially if you know you have been hurtful to the other person.
- Be clear and firm. When establishing boundaries, be direct and confident and say what you need to ensure there is no miscommunication.
- Keep an open heart and an open mind. Developing the art of listening with love is a valuable endeavor the rewards of which are astounding. Once you’ve experienced the power of listening with love, truly embracing the other person’s perspective without judgment, and having someone do this for you, there’s no going back. The results of listening with love are truly astounding.
Some Final Thoughts
There’s no denying that relationships can be complicated and challenging. As a practitioner, I help my clients understand that setting firm boundaries with chronic boundary breakers is not only for their highest good, but it is also for the highest good of the other person.
At the end of the day, remember that the other person may not have an awareness of the karma they are creating for themselves, so setting boundaries coming from a place of love is actually the most compassionate thing you can do – for each of you personally, professionally and spiritually.