Relationship Boundaries by Dr Ravi Gill

Dr. Ravi Gill a Chartered Health Psychologist and life coach is here to talk to us all about managing boundaries and relationships.

Have you ever been in a situation where your partner has made you feel angry, upset, and sad? How often have you questioned/analysed the situation trying to understand where it stems from, how it started?

We often hear people say that to protect ourselves, we need to set boundaries in life. This means we set clear rules for what we will/won’t accept. Why don’t we adopt this similar concept to our relationships? 

In order to set a boundary, we first must have an understanding of what it is. A boundary is ‘a line of respect; it’s a limitation that you put on certain behaviours that are unpleasant or unwanted.’ Throughout life, we continuously learn and evolve, and each relationship brings a new learning experience about you as an individual and as a couple. 

Boundaries 

Healthy boundaries help to protect and respect you, whereas unhealthy boundaries seek to control or harm someone else. 

Healthy boundaries include everything from speaking up when you think you’re being disrespected to advocating for yourself to have time for your own interests.

–       Communication – This is one of the most common reasons why couples seek therapy. Take some time out to evaluate your communication style but don’t use this to avoid the conversation. Be honest but respectful when sharing thoughts and feelings.

–       Assumptions Making assumptions creates a lot of misunderstandings. Try not to assume that you know what your partner wants/needs

–       Self-awareness – Evaluating self and knowing what you like and don’t like. What you’re comfortable with, what scares you, and how you want to be treated in situations.

–       Your needs – It is important to highlight what your needs are, for example; if managing your own finances reinforces your independence then it is important to communicate that to your partner 

–       Responsibility – Don’t automatically blame your partner for the situation or for how you are feeling, take a step back, and think about your choices that may have contributed to the situation.  

–       Stay firm – While setting boundaries is important, what’s more, important is that you stick to them. You shouldn’t make any exceptions to your own boundaries because you may soon find yourself comprising on things that aren’t acceptable to you. 

Bear in mind that as we gain more life experience, boundaries will shift and change as we grow and evolve. We might not be okay with something at the beginning of a relationship, but a few months later we might accept it. On the other hand, we might realize something crosses a boundary for us after experiencing it for the first time. Every person has the right to change their mind about what their boundaries are at any time. What’s important is that your communicating any boundary changes to your partner and you are making changes because YOU want to, not because you’re being pressured, forced, or manipulated into making them.

By mindfully maintaining flexible boundaries, we can create nurturing connections and deepen existing ones. Keep in mind that you can only share your boundaries, you can’t be responsible for your partner’s feelings or communication. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and fairness, so do not settle for anything less than what you deserve.

If you feel you need help with communication, boundaries, or are unable to overcome these issues alone, consider seeking professional advice. Psychologists aim to work with couples to improve their communications skills to help improve understanding of self and each other. For further information or to discuss, please contact Buckinghamshire Psychology on 0207 717 9022 or email info@buckinghamshirepsychology.co.uk

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