Establish boundaries in adult relationships with these 5 boundaries.

If you missed my previous post on boundaries in adult relationships, you can read it here. If you identified with any of the 7 signs that you lack boundaries, please keep reading. I will first identify the 5 types of boundaries in adult relationships before I cover how to establish boundaries in adult relationships and what boundaries look like.

A boundary is defined in the Cambridge dictionary as “a line that marks the limits of an area. Boundaries are the limits and rules that you set for yourself in relationships.” 

A common fallacy is that boundaries are telling people what to do. Boundaries are not about controlling other people, but instead controlling how you respond to them. 

Boundaries are showing them the door instead of letting them crawl through the window. Setting boundaries clearly communicates your needs. Boundaries create safety within relationships and are crucial for healthy adult relationships.

5 types of boundaries.

Physical boundaries. Physical boundaries are about respecting your physical space and physical touch. may look different depending on the type of adult relationship. Physical boundaries at work may be extending a handshake or a light pat on the back and expressing that you are not comfortable with hugs. But you may be comfortable with hugs with friends and family. The distance between you and another person is also a physical boundary.

Emotional boundaries. Emotional boundaries are about respecting feelings and energy. Emotional boundaries are being able to empathize with others but not taking on their emotions as your own. Emotional boundaries are also knowing when to share and when not to share. It is also learning who is a safe person to share information with and not sharing with those who have disrespected your emotions.

Intellectual boundaries. Intellectual boundaries are about sharing your thought and ideas. Similar to emotional boundaries, it is knowing when to share and when not to share. It is also learning to share with people who will respect your ideas and not put your down and you doing the same for others.

Financial boundaries. Financial boundaries are about your financial resources and possessions. Financial boundaries are setting limits on what you may or may not feel comfortable spending and when you are or are not comfortable loaning or gifting money.

Sexual boundaries. Sexual boundaries are your right to consent to intimacy and sexual touch. You decide what you are or are not comfortable with sexually and express those limits with your partner. Sexual boundaries are vital in relationships as it is one of the most vulnerable moments.

How to establish boundaries in adult relationships.

It is ideal, and easiest, to establish boundaries in adult relationships at the start of the relationship. However, that does not mean that it is impossible to set boundaries in already established relationships.

I touched on why it may be challenging to set boundaries in relationships in my previous post, so I won’t go into detail. Boundaries disrupt the homeostasis in relationships without previously set boundaries, but with healthy individuals, boundaries will be accepted, and the relationship will shift to respect those boundaries.

In order to establish boundaries in adult relationships, you need self-awareness. You need to be conscious of what you are and are not comfortable with and the expectations you have for yourself and for others.

You also need assertiveness to express and implement those boundaries. You need to be respectful in how you express yourself and not demanding.

Establish boundaries in adult relationships that currently lack boundaries.

If you currently lack boundaries in a relationship, you can always start the conversation by saying, “I have not been the best at voicing and implementing my boundaries, but I would like to start doing so now to foster a healthier relationship and to create more safety and connection in our relationship.”

What setting boundaries looks like.

Establish boundaries in adult relationships. Show them the proper way for you to be treated.

“I am not comfortable with hugs and would appreciate it if we stuck to handshakes.”

“When I open up to you, I feel like you dismiss my feelings when what I really need is validation and understanding. If that is not something that you can provide, then I cannot share certain things with you anymore.”

“I really don’t feel comfortable going to this restaurant because it is expensive. Would you mind if we found a less expensive place?”

“These are my list of no-go’s regarding intimacy and here is my list of what I am comfortable with.”

“I know we disagree, but it is not okay for you to talk to me that way.”

“It makes me uncomfortable when ________, I would appreciate it if you did not do that.”

Setting boundaries requires effort, diligence, and time, but it is worth the investment. You will feel safer in your relationships and more confident in yourself.