relationship boundaries

3 Steps You Should Take Before Setting Boundaries in Relationships

Every relationship needs boundaries. Without them, relationships aren’t a mutual give and take. You suffer in silence because you can’t ask for what you need. By staying silent, you pretend everything is fine when it’s not. Setting boundaries in relationships helps you to take care of yourself.

It took some painful lessons for me to be willing to set boundaries. Having relationships without limits is painful. Once I started setting boundaries my relationships transformed. My needs finally counted – not because they were met but because I finally spoke up. That changed everything.

What Are Boundaries?

Boundaries are limits that determine what you will and won’t participate in. They’re not about getting someone else to change. This blog shows how to set boundaries without depending on others to say yes.

Once you understand how boundaries work, you’ll have more realistic expectations. The truth is that boundaries are more about self-care, and less about how the other person responds.

Being willing to speak up takes courage. Asking for what you need is important but it doesn’t guarantee results. Boundaries are meant to show where your limits are and what you can do to take care of yourself. They don’t determine the outcome.

Here are 3 steps to take before setting boundaries in relationships…

3 Steps You Must Take Before You Setting Boundaries in Relationships

1. Acknowledge and Honor Your Truth

A common place people get stuck is being honest about what they need. You get trapped in fear and self-doubt. If you tend to think of others before yourself, boundaries become a real challenge.

Secretly, you think to yourself;

  • “If I set boundaries will others be offended or think I’m selfish?”
  • “I shouldn’t ask for that! It’s too much.”
  • “It’s not that important. I can live without it.”

If that’s you – you’re not alone! But if you keep stopping yourself, you’ll never have the chance to get what you want!

The first step in setting boundaries is asking for what you need – even if you don’t get it.

The act of speaking up honors who you really are with the people that matter most. It lets your loved ones see the real you, not the people pleaser.

By withholding what’s important to you, relationships suffer. That silence creates hurt and resentment that will linger and eventually destroy the relationship That’s exactly how relationships fail because when you don’t speak up, you don’t feel valued.

Tip: Everyone has unique wants, don’t judge yourself for yours. If it’s important to you, then speak up! It’s your best chance to being truly known.

2. Check Your Expectations

Putting your needs out there is a risk. You could be rejected, yelled at, or worse. You might worry about coming across as selfish or demanding. It feels vulnerable to admit what you want but when you don’t, you become a “human doing” instead of a human being.

It’s important to understand realistic expectations before setting a boundary. First, expect that sometimes the answer is going to be no. You have to be willing to accept the no otherwise you’re setting yourself up for resentment.

Expectations are more intense with friends and family. You expect your partner or best friend to fulfill them because they love you right? That assumption causes problems because they have the right to say no or to negotiate something different.

Tip: Just because they love you doesn’t obligate them to say yes. The power is in honoring your own needs which leads to your next step – creating a Plan B.

3. Create Your Plan B

As you begin to set boundaries, family and friends might not like it. Some may feel threatened when you start making changes. Setting boundaries feels uncomfortable because you risk rejection. Part of having more realistic expectations is having a Plan B.

A Plan B consists of creating healthy alternatives. Brainstorm how you could get your needs met. Finding these options will build a sense of empowerment. You will no longer feel dependent on someone else for what you need and that feels amazing!

For instance, you can ask someone to stop drinking, but what happens when they don’t stop? What other choices do you have?

  • You could remove yourself when they choose to drink.
  • You could join Al-Anon, a support group for families of alcoholics.
  • You could get some counseling.
  • You could decide to stay and live your own life.

Tip: Realize that the power you have is in honoring your own limits, not getting someone else to go along with yours.

Final Thoughts

Relationships are healthy only when both people can ask for what they need. Even though you deserve to get your needs met, you are ultimately responsible for your needs. People will respect you more because by setting boundaries you’re teaching them how to treat you. And that is the best self-care there is.

“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” – Tony Gaskins

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Article Author

Michelle Farris

Michelle Farris

Michelle Farris is a marriage and family therapist in San Jose California. She works with individuals, couples and offers online courses. She specializes in anger management and healing codependent relationships. She’s a therapist who “walks her talk” and supports others in transforming habits that hurt. She writes a blog on how to build self-esteem, set healthy boundaries and build relationships without sacrificing yourself. It's the power of accountability and unconditional support that helps you move forward, let go of the past and truly heal. Visit her website to Get Free Access to Michelle's Resource Library.
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