When you get into a new relationship, do you ever make assumptions that the other person has the same morals, values, and integrity as you…
…without having a conversation about those things?
Do you think healthy relationships just develop naturally on their own?
If this is you, you’re not alone. These are some of the most common pitfalls we can hit early in relationships, that is, unspoken assumptions + lack of communication around boundaries.
In this episode, you’ll learn the top 5 most important foundational boundaries for you to create at the beginning of a relationship (or to establish in a long-term relationship) for an EPIC partnership.
Prefer the audio? Listen here.
Healthy boundaries are the bridges to amazing relationships and deeper intimacy. Put simply, your boundaries are built on what is and what isn’t OK with you. They are your preferences, limits, and deal-breakers. Having healthy boundaries means knowing yourself, what’s important to you, and having the ability to communicate those things directly and transparently when you so choose.
I want you to think about them as your own personal rules for engagement – like a user manual for YOU- how you want to be treated and what your non-negotiables are. So many of us can make assumptions that we are all on the same page when it comes to these things when the reality is, we’re not.
Why is it so hard to set boundaries in relationships?
Fear of rejection is a big part of it. Especially in the beginning of a relationship, we are showing up as the best versions of ourselves. There can be this sort of pink cloud of love’s possibilities where we want to avoid bursting that bubble.
Part of what can happen is something called positive projection, where we project our best qualities onto the other person. This is usually an unconscious process, but raising your awareness of it is important so things don’t go unspoken and assumptions don’t set us up for disappointment. We need evidence before we make a positive judgment about someone else’s character, integrity, and motives.
With assumptions come silent agreements. That is why I say set your boundaries early and often. If you don’t talk about something at the beginning of a relationship, it’s almost like colluding with the other person’s behavior. When you let things that bother you slide, you are silently agreeing that it’s OK. What we want are clean agreements, meaning, we can communicate effectively to manage each other’s expectations.
Healthy boundaries set our relationships up to succeed! We know where we stand with one another and there are no guessing games. There is a myth that love needs no boundaries. Think again. People talk about “unconditional love” but all healthy love is boundaried love because boundaries are a bridge (not a block) to deeper intimacy.
Think of expressing your boundaries as inviting your person to actually know who you are because you are talking true about how you feel, what you want, and your limits.
Let’s get into the 5 Foundational Boundaries for Relationships:
Your most basic physical boundary is your body. This includes who has permission to touch you, how, and when, plus how much personal space you require. In a romantic relationship, this has to do with how physically affectionate you are comfortable being in private and in public.
Let’s say your partner is very affectionate and likes a lot of public displays of affection, but it makes you uncomfortable. You can make a simple boundary request by saying something like, “I’m more comfortable being physically affectionate in private. I love it when we’re alone, but I feel self-conscious in public. Can we please keep our PDA to a minimum?”
You can even get specific, for example, holding hands is OK in public, but making out is a no-go. It is so much better to communicate your boundaries rather than opening yourself to continual boundary violations and letting resentment build up over time.
Your emotional boundaries involve sharing your feelings with the other person in a safe space. If your partner is judging, criticizing, or giving you unsolicited advice (or vice versa), those are emotional boundary violations. If you feel guilted or shamed by something you shared with your partner, you might need to have a boundary conversation.
You might want to simply vent to your person and have them hold compassionate space for you without them jumping in to try to fix your problem. You can be proactive in that situation and say something like, “Hey, when I’m upset, I would love it if you could just listen with compassion. If I am in brainstorming mode and seeking your input, I will let you know.”
This refers to your expectations around physical intimacy. You get to decide what level of sexual touch is acceptable and where, when, and with whom it can happen.
In a relationship, what is ok and what is not ok with you when it comes to sexuality, safe sex practices, contraception, and monogamy? What are your preferences? What are your expectations around frequency? These are all part of the conversation so you can both establish boundaries and limits that make you comfortable so your sex life is healthy and happy.
It’s OK to say, “Hey, there are certain positions we’ve been trying I don’t enjoy. I would like to try this instead…” or, “I love it when you do X, can you do more of that?” Tell the truth about what you want and what you don’t.
Your intellectual boundaries are your thoughts, values, and opinions. In order to have intellectual boundaries, you must first know what you believe. In a relationship, you’re not always going to have identical opinions and views on the world, but healthy intellectual boundaries are about respecting each other’s beliefs, views, and opinions.
If one person in the partnership talks down to the other, it doesn’t leave room for open dialogue. It’s important to create a baseline for what is acceptable in your relationship. It’s OK to agree to disagree as long as you’re not diminishing the other person.
You don’t have to understand your person’s position on everything, but you do need to interact with one another respectfully and not make each other wrong.
So many of us have been taught never to talk about money – am I right? Here’s the thing: money is never just about dollars and cents! It is so important to have discussions about your financial beliefs, values, and goals up front in a romantic relationship to avoid contention down the road.
Normalize having conversations around money, again, early and often. Spending and saving money are expressions of what you value in your life and what is important to you, so I cannot emphasize enough how essential it is to communicate openly and honestly about financial matters.
If you’re already in a long-term relationship and you’ve never had these conversations, don’t worry, it’s never too late to start establishing healthy boundaries! You can learn how to create an open space for dialogue in your relationship. You can learn the language of healthy boundary setting.
I would love to know what you think about this so please, leave me a comment here or connect with me @terricole on Instagram or in my FB group here. If this added value to your life, please, share it with the people in your world because everyone can use the 5 foundational boundaries for epic relationships, am I right?
I hope you have an amazing week talking true and as always, take care of you.