Being in my first relationship with someone has taught me far more than I ever thought it was going to. Friendships come and go, and they’re usually not challenging or important enough to stretch me in the ways I really need to be stretched, but as soon as I found myself with someone that I would very much like to be spending the rest of my life with, I’ve come to realize that I can’t do things the same way as I have been doing for the rest of the relationships in my life.
Of course, it helps that he’s completely different than me in so many ways – he has an incredible ability to bring out my weaknesses with his own strengths – but that’s besides the point.
Communicating, being honest, setting boundaries, and letting go of expectations are some of the hardest things I’ve had to learn throughout this whole process. This may not be a full list, but here’s a few points of the things I’ve been working on within myself recently. Maybe it’ll give you a few boundary ideas for yourself. And I want to stress here that this doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships, but to pretty much anyone you talk to during the course of your life.
- I’m solely responsible for making sure my wants and needs are fulfilled.
- I’m responsible to communicate exactly how I’m feeling, and not assume that anyone else is going to pick up on it.
- I have to maintain clear limits between what I will and will not do – what my responsibilities are, and what they are not.
- Let go of my expectations that others are going to be able to anticipate my needs.
- On that note, let go of my expectations that someone else is going to save me.
- Own my own emotions instead of blaming others. (I’m angry with you because you slept in when I wanted to do something with you, but you didn’t even know we had plans. The responsibility for my anger is not on you, but on me).
- Instead of assuming that I’m smart enough to know how the other person feels and what they need, ask them outright.
- Set up and enforce consequences if and when your boundaries are invaded (if you stay up all night and we had plans for the following day, you need to fulfill your commitment to me despite your bad choices.)
- Call them out when they’re being dumb. It’s not your responsibility to make them clean their room, for example, but as their friend you have the allowance to tell them that the moldy dishes they left around are starting to stink.
- Sometimes, we all get overwhelmed and find ourselves incapable of handling certain things by ourselves. Instead of judging and being accusatory, be supportive without taking on their responsibilities for your own.
- Nagging and pouting never does anyone any good. Passive aggression doesn’t either.
- Understand that everyone communicates differently. Learn how they communicate by asking them, and in turn, teach them how you communicate.
- Understand that you can be together, but you have to be separate as well. Have a large enough identity in yourself to allow you both to get some much needed space.
- No one’s going to just know how you work. You need to teach them through open and honest communication.
What sort of boundaries work for you guys?