Setting Boundaries In A Relationship – How To


Setting boundaries in a relationship is incredibly difficult for many people. How to tell your partner in a loving way that you simply cannot or do not want to accept certain things?

Setting boundaries is essential for any happy and healthy relationship. Notorious people-pleasers may avoid conflicts and arguments, but in the long run, it will harm them and their relationship. Not setting boundaries lowers our self-confidence, and we become dissatisfied and unhappy. There is this constant feeling of neglecting one’s own needs, desires, and wishes.


Setting healthy boundaries in a relationship is a sign of high self-respect. It’s respect for one’s own needs, desires, and preferences. So we should not only show respect to our partners but to ourselves as well, by communicating our boundaries.


What are relationship boundaries and why are they so important?


Healthy boundaries help to keep the balance in a relationship. Both partners ideally understand and respect each other. Ultimately, boundaries can even improve the relationship and strengthen communication between each other.


Setting Healthy Relationship Boundaries Means


  • Recognizing your own needs and values and claiming them.
  • Knowing what you are willing to give or do for your partner and what not.
  • Recognizing what is good for you and what is harmful.
  • Protecting yourself from being taken advantage of by your partner.
  • To stand up for yourself.


Setting boundaries in relationships is highly individual. What’s a no-go for one person is completely fine for the other. In order to set boundaries in a relationship, it is important to identify them first.


When Boundaries Are Crossed In A Relationship:


  • You feel that your partner is taking advantage of you and your emotions.
  • You are the one who keeps forgiving your partner.
  • You make your partner feel like he or she can get away with almost anything.
  • You are constantly cursing yourself for not speaking up when you don’t like something.
  • You are always in defense mode and feel like you are the one to blame for everything.



Example List Of Boundaries In A Relationship –

What Are Relationship Boundaries?


Here are some examples:


Sexual boundaries


  • What types of sexual interactions do you like and don’t like?
  • When and where do you feel most comfortable having sex?
  • Not being pressured to have sex when you don’t want to.


Emotional boundaries


An emotional boundary could be not feeling responsible for your partner’s feelings and emotional state.


Time Boundaries


Communicating when you need time for just yourself.


Communication Boundaries


This is the imaginary line we establish around ourselves to protect our souls, hearts, and minds from the unhealthy or damaging behavior of others. This could be a certain tone of voice or offensive words.




How To Set Boundaries In A Relationship – Step By Step


The fear of rejection, of being perceived as selfish, or hurting our partner, makes it difficult for many people to make their point and communicate their boundaries. We shy away from possible conflicts or arguments and prefer not to speak up.

Saying “No!” takes courage, but it’s also the chance to take the relationship to a new level, to boost your self-confidence and to increase your self-respect. Setting boundaries is also an act of self-care and self-love. It makes you feel relieved again and enables you to grow in your relationship.


Self-Reflection – Identify Your Own Values And Needs.


Spend some time alone in a quiet atmosphere and try to answer the following questions. Write your answers down to gain even more clarity.


What are my values? What is really important to me?

What are the non-negotiable boundaries for my partnership?

What consequences do I draw when these boundaries were crossed?

What fear makes it difficult for me to actually set these boundaries?


Set Boundaries – Right At The Beginning Of The Relationship


It is much easier to set boundaries at the beginning of a relationship. Once you’re together for a long time there will be many habits, behaviors, and routines that are hard to change. But better now than never! Even if certain habits have been established it is still worth establishing new boundaries if necessary.


The Right Moment


Avoid talking about boundaries when you are in an argument and both of you are angry. Take a timeout and calm down. Take note of the things that bother you and when a boundary was crossed. Define the boundary and use the following tips to talk about it with your partner in a quiet moment.


How To Set Boundaries In Relationships – Communication Is Key


Many people shy away from talking about their feelings. We are often afraid of the reaction of another person. We don’t want to offend or hurt our partners. Expressing one’s needs and desires is another topic that many struggle with.

It’s important not just to name the boundaries but to give the partner a bigger picture and explain why these boundaries are so important to you. Explaining your boundaries also gives you the chance to learn more about your partner. You could ask where you may have crossed one of his or her boundaries and then find a mutual solution for the future. Try to be as open and non-judgemental as possible.

An open conversation about your feelings, thoughts, and wishes will strengthen your relationship. Try to avoid a demanding tone as this creates an imbalance and your partner might feel like he or she has to defend themself.


Check out:

26 Must-Try Couples Therapy Exercises

57 Great Couple Therapy Questions For Your Next Session


Be Assertive


Be loving and don’t threaten your partner. Your tone should be calm but assertive. After all, you want to make clear that a boundary has been crossed and you’re not willing to tolerate this any longer. So you’ll have to find a sweet spot between being assertive, calm, and understanding.


Start Your Phrases With “I”.


It’s not what you say, but how you say it – and that also applies to setting boundaries. Try to use phrases such as “I feel” or “I wish” instead of accusing your partner with phrases like “You always do” or “You never do”.

You don’t want to put your partner in a defensive position. Once he or she is there it will be difficult to bring the conversation back on track. Try to explain your boundaries in a loving and friendly way instead of making accusations.


Some positive examples:


  • I really felt… when this happened.

  • I feel…when you…


Avoid phrases like:


  • I know you…

  • You are always… to me or at me

  • You always make me feel…


Take a look at the Self-Love Toolkit – It includes a “Setting Boundaries In Relationships” Worksheet


Remain Respectful


Always maintain a respectful tone during the conversation. Back down as soon as you realize you are getting too emotional and the conversation is going in the wrong direction.

Remember to also respect and acknowledge your partner’s needs and boundaries. Ask your partner what boundaries are important to him or her.


The goal is to find a mutual solution in which the boundaries and needs of both of you are accepted and respected. Setting boundaries is also not a one-time set it and forget it event. You both have to constantly work on your relationship. Here are 14 Impactful Worksheets & Exercises for Couples Therapy, Counseling and Relationship Coaching: