By: Julie Sekachev, M.Ed, LPC Associate Supervised by Melissa Barton, MA, LPC-S What are boundaries, and why do we need them? Boundaries are expectation or rules that we set for ourselves that tells the other person our limit of space or activity. Boundaries show others who you are, your needs, and what you will and […]
By: Julie Sekachev, M.Ed, LPC Associate
Supervised by Melissa Barton, MA, LPC-S
What are boundaries, and why do we need them? Boundaries are expectation or rules that we set for ourselves that tells the other person our limit of space or activity. Boundaries show others who you are, your needs, and what you will and will not accept from others. Sometimes if we do not have personal boundaries, we find it hard to respect boundaries that others set. It can be a challenge to appreciate something we do not honor ourselves, so identifying your boundaries is the first step. Boundaries are healthy for relationships because they establish clear expectations, allow each partner to meet their needs, and create open communication.
How to Identify Your Boundaries:
Identify Your Needs and Wants:
Evaluate how you feel within your relationship. Do you need more time to yourself? Are you feeling a lack of social connection with your friends and need some time with them? Do you need more respect from your partner? Do you crave more understanding or more intimacy from your partner?
Put Them On Paper:
Write down a list of your needs and expectation and where you want to set a limit. If you are giving too much of your time to your partner, how can you create more balance?
Be Clear About the Value Your Boundaries Serve You:
Look at your emotional, mental, and physical health trajectory if your needs go unmet. Not setting boundaries and neglecting your needs will ultimately lead to relationship burnout and can fuel negative cycles of interaction with your partner.
How to State Your Boundaries to Your Partner:
Communicate your boundaries in a non-threatening way. For example, if your need is that you want your partner to be more present and you notice your partner is on the phone when you try to have a conversation, you can say:
“I feel heard and valued when you listen to me without any distractions” or “I feel respected when I can finish my point without interruption” instead of “stop picking up your phone when I’m talking, or I’ll stop talking to you.”
- Listen to your partner’s needs. When you listen, ask why these needs are essential, try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes, and hear from your partner’s perspective. Listening is an active process.
- Boundaries are best communicated using “I statements” to reduce the likelihood that your partner feels blamed or attacked and becomes defensive.
- Respect each other’s boundaries. Honor your partner’s needs, and let them know that next time they communicate their boundary to you, you will commit to honor and ask for the same.
Why Setting Boundaries is Difficult:
Remember that sometimes when you start to state your needs, wants, or limits to others, especially if you have difficulty doing so or rarely set boundaries, it may trigger deep-seated feelings of guilt, shame, or selfishness. It is essential to consider the origin of these negative core beliefs. Keep in mind that feeling this way does not mean that you should not set boundaries with others. You can process these feelings by placing limitations on your partner. Being vulnerable and sharing these feelings can help your partner understand you and enrich the bond you have together.
What If My Partner Does Not Respect My Boundaries?
If you have not had boundaries with your partner before, it may be a challenge for them initially to accept your limits. They may want more than you are comfortable giving, overstep, challenge why you have a specific boundary, judge or criticize them, or question if they are realistic. When this happens, consider your values around your limits. Ask your partner about any fears about this change and reassure and soothe these fears together. Communicate to your partner using the “gentle startup” (I feel…about what…I need…) of how you feel when your boundaries are not respected. Share with your partner that identifying, honoring, and expressing your needs can help you from disconnection.
Begin Couples Therapy in Katy, TX!
Need Help Setting Boundaries? Don’t Know Where to start? If you are ready to improve your relationship, one of the therapists at The Center at Cinco Ranch can help! We provide couples counseling as well as other services. To begin couples counseling in Katy, TX follow these three steps:
- Contact our office to set up an appointment or to learn more about couples counseling
- Meet with one of our skilled therapists
- Find ways to thrive in your relationship!
Other Therapy Services We Offer:
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch we offer counseling services for people of all ages in areas including: counseling for kids, counseling for young adults, teen counseling, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, men’s issues, women’s issues, anxiety treatment, depression therapy, trauma counseling, family therapy, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to regularly post blogs. We provide helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and our counseling services, please reach out to the Counseling Center today!