Healthy boundaries are essential in any relationship, whether with family members or friends. Boundaries are a way to establish behaviors and expectations for how you want to be treated. It also helps to curb inappropriate or destructive behavior.
Most of us are very good at setting boundaries with strangers, but it can be more problematic for our family members or friends. So what does one do? When you have clear boundaries, it helps you maintain a healthy, positive relationship with the people in your life and prevents unwanted conflicts. Here is some insight into how to set healthy boundaries that are effective and fair.
What Is a Boundary and Its Benefits?
Before we can create healthy boundaries, let us first establish the meaning of boundary. A boundary is a set of limits that defines where you stop and someone else starts. It’s saying, “This is my space, this is your space.” Setting boundaries helps us establish an identity separate from others. It allows us to protect ourselves from people who might take advantage of us or impose too much or too frequently on our time or emotions. Essentially, they’re a tool for setting limits and defining personal space so that we can stay safe and happy in our relationships.
Moreso, healthy boundaries benefit all parties. It allows everyone to feel safe and secure in the relationship. Ultimately, people feel more confident about sharing what they desire because of the established clear lines and expectations. You’ll be able to handle more complex situations together if you know the line between appropriate and inappropriate behavior from the get-go—and what to do when others cross it without your permission.
Tips on How to Set Boundaries for a Healthy Relationship
- Identify your needs: Take a moment to think about what you need. What do you need from your relationship? What is it that you want to feel safe and secure? So, take some time and think about what makes you feel safe and secure. Once you’ve identified your needs, it’s essential to figure out what kind of boundaries will work best for you. Also, consider what your loved ones need and their needs for safety and security.
- Choose your words wisely: Before discussing these needs and boundaries openly with your friend or family member, consider the words you will use. Words hold great power. Hence, make sure your language proves diplomatic and not toxic. We recommend expressing yourself in a manner that demonstrates respect for all parties.
- Create a plan: To create healthy boundaries with the people closest to you, you must have a plan. A plan is necessary to help you prioritize your needs and desires.
- Determine what works best for you: Boundaries are personal, and what feels comfortable for one person may not be the same for another. When it comes to setting boundaries, it’s essential to know what works best for you. You can start by asking yourself these questions:
- What do I hope to achieve with this relationship?
- Do I want this relationship to continue?
- How am I feeling in this relationship right now?
- Do both people have equal power/authority in the situation?
- Be realistic: Don’t expect things to get better overnight if you want to improve your relationship. Instead of being unrealistic, be realistic about your ability to change and accept that process is likely to take time.
- Continue communicating: Check in with your partner regularly about where you’re at emotionally and physically so you can make changes if needed.
- Establishing consequences: When your friend or family member crosses the boundary lines, make sure they know exactly what the result will be by communicating clearly and frequently. Be specific about what behaviors will cause consequences, including positive ones. Make sure they understand that these consequences are not a punishment but rather reinforcing the boundaries.
- Listen actively and empathically: Listening is as critical as speaking in a relationship. Good listening skills are what makes a great relationship. The key to empathetic listening is hearing their words through the filter of empathy. “Active listening means reflecting the speaker and asking them questions about their feelings or thoughts.” Essentially, the process calls for you to understand the speaker’s feelings and work towards conflict resolution. Being present to their words shows good faith you care about them and the relationship. More likely, the person will show more receptivity to your boundaries.
- Affirm their boundaries: Make sure that you understand the limits of the person you’re speaking to and respect those boundaries and their opinions and feelings. You can’t impose your wants on people without making them feel like they weren’t heard or respected—and this will only lead to resentment and distance between the two of you!
- Seek a mediator: Mediators are neutral third parties that can help mediate conflict between involved parties so that everyone feels heard, understood, and respected. The goal is for both parties to reach an agreement that works best for all involved. Setting rules and limits together can be complicated at first, but it’s worth it in the long run.
- Seek a therapist: Therapists can provide valuable information and psychological support to help you make the best decisions for yourself. Many people experience anxiety and depression due to an issue with their family member or friend. If this is the case for you, your best bet is to seek assistance from a professional specializing in mental health issues.
It is important to set healthy boundaries with family members or friends, especially if you’re trying to recover from a mental health issue or SUD. If you lack boundaries, you may feel overwhelmed and unable to handle the situation. Setting healthy boundaries allows for honest discussions about complex topics and lets both partners know what each other wants out of the relationship. At Restoration Recovery, we help people achieve healthy interpersonal skills, like setting boundaries, to recover from SUD. The program’s goal is to create a supportive environment that enables individuals to develop coping mechanisms and new ways of relating with others to live more fulfilling lives. Our program offers various addiction treatment services: individual and group counseling sessions; holistic services like mindfulness and yoga; family therapy which helps families address underlying issues; relapse prevention education to prepare participants for long-term recovery. To learn more about our comprehensive treatment, call (888) 290-0925.