What are “Boundaries” and How Can They Help my Relationships?

Boundaries: What are they and how to create them | Wellness Center |  University of Illinois Chicago

What are Boundaries?

“Boundaries” is a term that many people use when talking about relationships with friends, family, co-workers, and other individuals in their lives. Boundaries are established rules and limits that we set in order to have healthy connections with others. These boundaries allow us to speak up for ourselves and our own needs while protecting the relationship. Boundaries are all about respect and understanding. Our values come into play by determining what is most important to us and how these values shape our decisions in relationships. For example, if your top value is timeliness, a boundary may be that your friends and family needs to put in efforts to be on time for events. Know your boundaries before entering a situation. Use assertiveness, confidence, and respect when setting boundaries.

Why Do Boundaries Make Us Feel Bad? — The Candidly

Types of Boundaries

Rigid – Not forming close relationships to avoid being hurt, does not share personal information, does not ask for help, has few close relationships

Porous – Accepts being mistreated or disrespected, overshares personal information, fears rejection, very dependent on others

Healthy – Respects their own values, shares an appropriate amount with others, communicates their needs, allows others to say “no” to them

These boundaries can be different depending on setting, people involved, and culture. Boundaries come in all types: physical, emotional, sexual, material, time, and intellectual. Again, all boundaries are based on respecting others’ needs and are violated when this is not followed through.

Learning how to set healthy boundaries... | Modern MFT

Ways to Say “No”

-I don’t want to do that.

-This is unacceptable.

-I changed my mind.

-I can’t do that for you.


Setting boundaries in life

How do you set and use boundaries in your personal relationships? Comment below!

Using I-Statements to Express Yourself in Relationships

What is an I-Statement?

I-Statements are a great communication tool for self-expression. They include our feeling in a situation, the reason for this feeling, and our needs from the person we are expressing our feelings to. I-Statements can also be referred to as “I” Messages.

The Power of “I” Statements (Your Magical Mental Health Tool)

Why do we use I-Statements?

-Focus on the feelings or beliefs of the speaker

-Using assertiveness and setting boundaries

-Not blaming the other person and making them want to defend themselves

-Being open and honest while describing the problem

-Taking responsibility for your own feelings and emotions

What is the importance of I-Statements?

Remember that: No one can MAKE you feel a certain way. We have to take responsibility for ourselves because we are the only ones we can control. We cannot control the outcomes of our I-Statements, but we know that we did our best to communicate in a healthy way when we clean our side of the street.

Use this blank cartoon as a way to practice your I-Statements!

Using I-Statements is an important part of the Fair Fighting skill for couples. Try out this skill with your partner, friend, family member, or co-worker and comment below on how this skill worked for you!

Fair Fighting Rules for Couples

Fair Fighting Rules for Couples to Save Relationship | Fair fighting rules, Fighting  fair, Save relationship

Disagreements are always going to happen within couples. Sometimes if feels like we really need a referee to get us through some conflicts! It’s important to work through these situations in a healthy way to make sure each person is heard and understood. Here are some Fair Fighting guidelines you can use to make sure that the next argument ends up in resolutions.

  1. Identify why you are feeling upset and what emotions you are having.
  2. Pick one topic to discuss instead of bringing up different ones at the same time.
  3. Focus more on the present moment instead of bringing things up from the past.
  4. Do not call each other names or be degrading. Also, keeping your voices at a calm and low tone. No yelling!
  5. Use words to express yourself and focus on “I-statements” where you are taking responsibility for your own feelings and actions.
  6. Don’t overgeneralize such as “You ALWAYS do this”, “You NEVER do this”.
  7. Take turns speaking. If this is difficult, use a timer or pass an object to take turns. This has been something that has worked in couples sessions for me!
  8. Don’t refuse to speak which is called “stonewalling”. Essentially putting up a wall between you and your partner.
  9. Take a time-out BUT have a time limit when you can come back and continue the discussion.
  10. Come to an agreement or compromise in the end or at least see the other person’s perspective.

What rules do you make to get through arguments with your partner in a healthy way? Comment below!

Check out my post on the THINK skill for more tips on maintaining a healthy relationship!