Whether you’re at the start of a new relationship or in the middle of a long-term relationship, healthy boundaries are key. In this article, you will find information about establishing boundaries with your partner, along with tips for respecting your own and your partner’s boundaries.
Personal boundaries are the limits and rules you set for yourself. Setting boundaries in a relationship, helps you clearly understand each other’s dos and don’ts. This is an important part of maintaining a happy relationship.
Clear Communication is Important
Everyone has their own ideas about what makes a good relationship. Also, everyone has different personal boundaries. However, if you do not agree with your partner, but you want to show them that their thoughts and feelings are valid, you could say:
- “From my perspective, I feel…”
- “I understand where you’re coming from, but I think…”
- “I know you feel differently about this, but I am not sure if I agree with you on…”
Clear communication and learning how to speak to each other in a kind way (even when you might disagree) is important for understanding each other’s wants and needs. But keep in mind, healthy communication must be a two-way street, where both partners are equally committed.
Ask for Consent
No matter if you are just starting out as a couple or you’re in a long-term relationship, consent is always an important part of respecting personal boundaries.
Consent occurs when one person agrees to a certain activity, which could be kissing, hugging, or being touched. Consent helps everyone feel safe and respected. If you’re not sure if your partner consents to doing a certain activity stop and ask.
Here are some responses that do NOT equal consent:
- “I don’t know”
- “I’m not sure”
- “I want to, but…”
- If they are unconscious or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- If they are visibly hesitant or uncomfortable
There are times when it’s hard to interpret consent, which is why you should always ask. If the answer is not a clear “yes,” then the activity is NOT consensual. Press the pause button on whatever you are doing and talk about it.
Be Open and Honest
Being open and honest with your partner can lead to a stronger relationship. Discussing boundaries can also give you better insight into yourself and what you need out of a relationship, as well as to how you can help your partner feel more comfortable, safe, and valued.
To learn more info about establishing boundaries and dating, check out these resources:
- Assessing a Relationship
- Effective Communication: Getting the Message Across
- Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships
Author: Shaelee Singer is a sophomore at Portland State University and member of the Navajo Nation. As an English major interested in education, Shaelee is grateful to be writing articles that spread awareness about health to Native youth.