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What Are the Different Types of Boundaries in Relationships and How to Enforce Them?

What Are the Different Types of Boundaries in Relationships and How to Enforce Them?

Updated on Nov 02, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Boundaries in Relationships - Definition, Types, Impact and How to Enforce

Curious about boundaries in relationships? Do you know what boundaries mean in this context? Or, are you looking for answers? Perhaps, someone crossed the line… and you aren’t sure how to handle it?

Whichever it is, good job at finding me! In this think-piece, you’ll find answers to all your possible doubts in a nutshell.

There are different kinds of boundaries – from rigid to flexible ones, healthy to unhealthy ones, and even based on different aspects of your life. 

So, if your heart isn’t calm… then someone definitely attacked a boundary.

Impatient? Let’s head right in…

Boundaries in Relationships Infographics

Boundaries in Relationships - Definition and Types
Boundaries in Relationships – Definition and Types
Boundaries in Relationships - Importance and Impact
Boundaries in Relationships – Importance and Impact
How to Enforce Boundaries in Relationships
How to Enforce Boundaries in Relationships?

What are boundaries in a relationship?

In relationships, boundaries define your limits to tolerate any action. It also refers to taking responsibility for your actions and one another’s feelings.

In relationships, boundaries refer to your limits to accept or tolerate anything. So, it expresses what another can’t do so long you’re together.

Boundaries in intimate relationships also help you build certain limits so that you don’t end up hurting each other.

For instance, if you wrong your partner, it’s your responsibility to apologize for your actions. If your partner asks the reasons behind your actions, that’s again your responsibility to explain things.

Maintaining healthy boundaries enriches relationships as it provides authority and confidence to both partners. When both you and your partner respect one another’s boundaries, you’ll feel a strong emotional bond.

However, when people disregard boundaries, communication issues, bitterness, distrust, or even codependency might arise… which will obviously lead to conflicts later on.

In romantic relationships, it’s important to consider both personal boundaries and self-dignity to maintain healthy dynamics.

In every existing relationship until this age and date, there is a mixture of strict and flexible boundaries. Some might be healthy boundaries, while others are unhealthy. Let’s check some…

Examples of healthy boundaries in a relationship

Healthy boundaries don’t just apply in couple relationships. They work for any interpersonal relationship in different areas of your life. Some examples of healthy boundaries in a relationship are…

1. Asking permission before making major decisions that involves both

2. Expressing appreciation for one another’s efforts

3. Taking account of each other’s opinions and feelings

4. Being honest about something that bugs you in the relationship

5. Being respectful despite the differences in feelings, thoughts, and perspectives

6. Giving one another personal space or alone time to be independent

7. Taking responsibility for your own actions and choices’

8. Empathizing and supporting one another during rough times

9. Supporting one another’s goals

10. Communicate about your needs honestly.

Let’s check the other side too…

Examples of unhealthy boundaries in a relationship

Unhealthy boundaries in a relationship can be big deal-breakers. You feel you can save the relationship with these dynamics… but it never works out. Because you either hurt yourself or another like these…

1. Hiding your dislikes about your relationship dynamics

2. Not communicating your needs from a relationship due to fear of being misunderstood

3. Falling too hard for literally anyone from social media

4. Feeling a sense of connection with people who just reconnected after several years.

5. Allowing someone to cross sexual boundaries, i.e., let them touch you inappropriately or have their way with you against your wishes.

6. Not saying NO to something you really dislike because you want people to like you

7. Believing that you’re obliged to make everyone happy even if it harms you

8. Pleasing others to make them understand your value and crave you.

9. Compromising too much in a relationship even at the cost of your self-dignity.

10. Pretending to be someone people believe you are or must be and hiding.

Wondering about the advantages? Let’s take a quick glance…

Why are boundaries important in a relationship?

Certainly, healthy boundaries in relationships have multiple benefits. But how? It definitely satisfies your desires and keeps you calm… but is that all? Absolutely not! 

It’s not just about selfish desires. There are some health benefits too. Let’s know more…

1. You get abundant respect

If you don’t spell out what isn’t alright with you… nobody will know, care to know, or respect your feelings.

Imagine people using you as a punching bag when you’re a human too… it sucks the wind out of your gut.

Setting healthy boundaries prevents others from using you like a rug. You’ll protect yourself from demeaning attitudes.

Friends and family will know what you won’t stand for and respect your thoughts naturally.

2. You feel loved

Healthy boundaries can also help you draw the line. Since your close ones will know what kind of person you are, they’ll love your real personality.

Imagine pretending to be someone else to please someone… they’ll like and befriend you. But you’ll feel guilty about it. Their praises for your façade will not sit well with you either.

When you express your true self to everyone, you’ll find well-deserved love for your real self. That brings a lot of positivity to your life.

3. You have more self-awareness

You can’t set boundaries without knowing your needs.  And while you’re at it, you’ll find distinct sides to yourself.

For instance, your boundaries with an ex when in a new relationship define what you feel is right and wrong.

You’ll hope the same from your new partner. So, before anything goes wrong you’ll be aware of your needs.

Find clarity with well-defined boundaries in your life and build healthy relationships. It also allows you time and emotional and physical space for personal growth.

4. You treasure personal health

Wondering what’s personal health? It’s about being in charge of your wellness. You make proper decisions consciously to maintain your personal health. It also helps you keep your distance from controlling people.

Discussing boundaries and maintaining them in your life helps you out of toxic relationships and habits. It boosts self-dignity and diminishes stress and anxiety disorders.

So, discuss boundaries with close ones to keep yourself healthy – physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and socially.

Without distinct boundaries, people may hurt you unknowingly. It impacts mental health, leads to resentful feelings towards them, and the end of perfectly healthy relationships.

5. You attract a sea of opportunities

Imagine being a pushover… people will take advantage of your goodwill or easy-going nature. You might feel Well, they’re my friends/family/coworkers… they have this much right.

That’s where you go wrong! You justify your wrongdoers’ actions and they get away with it all the time. You feel too lazy to set healthy boundaries and let things be.

Now, imagine yourself as a person with huge authority, like a white-collared big-shot. Will you entrust a pushover with important tasks? Of course, you can’t stain your reputation.

That’s how personal boundaries can help you stand out and attract great opportunities in your life.

6. You set apart the good and rotten bunch

Let’s face it… human beings are unique… your and my ideologies and values won’t completely match. But that doesn’t stop us from meeting new people and making long-lasting relationships.

When you have proper boundaries, you’ll identify true friends and superficial contacts. No, boundaries don’t magically help you differentiate people.

Rather, it’s because you don’t stand for the red flags in any relationship. When you don’t stand for ill-treatment in any kind of relationship, their true colors will show.

Quite naturally, you’ll know who to distance from.

7. Nobody can take advantage of you

Suppose you treasure a friend a lot. You’re ready to go to any lengths for them. However, you know they won’t ever return such favors. You allow him/her to boss you around for the same.

How will you feel? Let’s say, you feel great because they feel comfortable enough to ask for your help. Fair enough, but you feel uncomfortable. Do you think you can continue with this in the long haul?

Later on, you’ll hate yourself for letting them take charge of your life. People will understand only when you communicate your boundaries and stick to them.

8. You won’t need to fix other’s mess

Let’s follow the last example… your best friend asks you to do their homework for the sake of being best friends.

Or they ask you to be their guarantor for a loan, though you know they aren’t good with money. Or, even worse, they cheated on their partner and asked you to be their alibi.

In either case, you aren’t possibly alright with it. You go with the flow because they imagine you owe them something for your friendship.

Fixing their issues repeatedly even when you don’t want to, creates negative emotions in relationships. Healthy boundaries can help you avoid them.

9. Nothing in your relationship disturbs you

This one is possible when you only interact with the right bunch of people.

Definitely, you can’t change your blood relations or their attitude towards you. If your family includes the wrong kind of people, you can’t break relations, but it’ll work out.

Maintaining healthy boundaries will help them understand what’s uncool, what will mess up the peace… they’ll pretty much avoid it.

So, you’ll feel peaceful hoping there won’t be much trouble in your relationships.

Also, if it’s your friend or a date, sticking to your boundaries helps you pick the right circle for yourself. When you’re in good hands, you don’t have to worry much.

10. Your life becomes free from drama

Whether your boundaries are rigid or flexible, you can fix relationship issues based on them.

An example of rigid boundaries: you can’t tolerate cheating in romantic relationships. If your partner cheats, you only have one answer: call quits.

On the other hand, you prefer everyone to do their dishes in the household. However, someone is sick, so you fill in for them. That’s a flexible boundary.

Knowing your likes and dislikes eases your life. You can find the shortest route to your goal quickly.

On the contrary, a lack of boundaries can hurt you. Let’s have a peek…

How boundaries can impact stress levels in a relationship?

Whether it’s a lack of well-defined boundaries or unhealthy boundaries, both can result in stress. But the route of boundaryless-land to stress-land is quite confusing. There are multiple routes, so let’s check them…

1. You feel burdened with responsibilities

Do you not state what’s okay and not in your relationship? You will get the shorter side of the stick that way. You’ll end up taking up more responsibilities than you can or feel comfy with.

You continue taking more responsibilities to feel loved and needed. You also fear others rejecting you if you don’t abide by them. If you’re sensitive to rejection it can pile up into stress.

You’ll always go out of your way and cling to a busy lifestyle for your comfort level. Poor boundaries can consume your time and energy inefficiently.

Also, people won’t understand they’re crossing limits if you don’t have clear boundaries.

2. It instills bitter feelings

What might happen if you give into anything unwillingly? Will you feel happy doing the work? Of course not, rather you’ll feel resentful towards the other person.

Since you didn’t say no, you’ll think they’re taking advantage of you… even if it was unintentional on their side. You might feel burdened by their expectations.

But possibly, you’re stuck in a tight schedule because you avoided your responsibility. Stick to your boundaries during such situations. It’s possible to prevent these even without getting mad at others.

Unless you build healthy boundaries, it will become another cause of stress and estranged relationships.

3. It leads to more fights

With imbalance and bitterness in your relationships… you will have conflicts. It goes without saying, conflicts lead to physical and mental health issues.

Other than stress and anxiety disorders, you might suffer from hypertension, blood sugar, cholesterol, and even hormonal issues.

Boundaries don’t promise zero conflicts in your relationships. However, a lack of boundaries can significantly multiply the number of conflicts.

Also, conflict resolution requires certain transparency to your boundaries. So healthy boundary building can diminish possible health issues and conflicts.

4. Your hearts grow apart

Burdensome responsibilities, resentment, and conflicts might lead to the worst blow to your relationship.

When you always get negative feelings about a relationship, you will feel that the other person changed. That they’re much more demanding and you can’t suffice their needs.

You’ll feel estranged and love may dissipate from your relationship. You might grow to have a different perspective on your relationship as opposed to them.

Your relationship itself might feel like the core of all the stress in your life.

Here, boundary-setting might help you resolve such thoughts.

5. You lose the sense of healthy boundaries

Not creating or talking about boundaries might lead to one last confusion. You might forget the definition and need for healthy boundaries.

Let’s take this example: You don’t know the need for well-defined boundaries with friends when in a relationship. Your friends like roasting random people. Now, they roast your partner and you feel hurt.

However, you don’t stop them because it’s harmless banter… they don’t really mean it. If your partner is present at the scene, that might be the last day of your relationship.

Without boundaries, you know something is wrong, it’s hurting you… but you don’t step forward because you feel oversensitive. You take others’ trash and the stress again multiplies.

Still not clear about healthy and unhealthy boundaries? Let’s know from…

Healthy vs Unhealthy Boundaries

Boundaries can be either healthy or unhealthy… Yes, that’s also possible. A healthy boundary is a statement about yourself. It defines your needs and the reasons behind them. And of course, the reasons must be legit.

An unhealthy boundary, on the other hand, is a sign of controlling dynamics. It describes a person’s jealousy, insecurity, and selfishness. They’re based on selfish desires to please themselves.

Also, unhealthy boundaries can be relationship red flags, stress you out, or even dethrone you from peace-land. So let’s check some basic differences here…

Basis of DifferenceHealthy BoundariesUnhealthy Boundaries
HappinessWhether you’re in a relationship or not, your happiness depends on you.You might feel unhappy when your partner isn’t around.Or, you might feel dejected and jealous of other couples when you’re single.
Social relationshipsYou will have friends and colleagues to spend your time with. You won’t entirely depend on your partner for a leisurely time.You may completely rely on your partner for any kind of outing. You might give up on building social relationships because of romantic ones.
DifferencesIf you and your partner have differing opinions in life, you respect them. You try understanding their opinions and allow them space.When something doesn’t go your way in the relationship, you become controlling.For instance, you don’t like their friends, so you give them an ultimatum “It’s either your friendship or me.”Which is clearly a threat.
CommunicationYou communicate honestly about what you need and expect from a relationship.You can’t express your needs – either because you feel selfish, demanding, or clingy, or just fear rejection.
SeparationsThough breakups and rejections are hard, you get closure, accept the bitter truth, and slowly let go. You’re aware that it’ll take a while but holding on won’t help.You can’t accept rejection at all. You fear it so much that you go to hefty lengths to avoid it.
OutcomeHealthy boundaries support long-lasting and meaningful relationships. Your bliss multiplies and you feel satisfied with life.Unhealthy boundaries are an excuse to hide one’s trust issues and pretentious personality. It only worsens relationship dynamics.

But that’s not all when it comes to boundary types. Let’s dig into some…

Types of Boundaries in Relationships

Other than the various types of boundaries expressed here, some boundaries might be negotiable, and others non-negotiable. When a person knowingly plays with your non-negotiable boundaries, that’s abuse. 

You mustn’t tolerate any kind of abuse in any situation at all. If things get dangerous, call 911 or contact the National domestic violence hotline at 1800-799-7233 or 1800-787-3224.

1. Physical Boundaries

These kinds of boundaries include your comfort about being touched, needing personal space, rest, nourishing, and rejuvenating yourself.

It might concern your physical health or your comfort with making physical contact. You may be fine with hugging publicly, but kissing isn’t okay.

Personal boundaries define yourself and your needs better so it’s a great way to thrive in relationships.

You aren’t the same as others, so it’s perfectly alright. Express what kind of physical space or nourishment you need. You’re not wrong to need something… that’s humane.

Examples of boundary violations

Some might be negotiable, while some unacceptable, like these…

  • Feeling forced to snuggle with your partner
  • Being hugged when you want personal space
  • Asked to continue a task when you’re tired
  • Being denied food or water because you’re late or something is more important to the other person
  • Someone walking into your room without even knocking
  • Hitting you and saying it’s a joke
  • Pulling on your clothes when you dislike it
  • Playing with your hair because the person behind you is bored
  • Forcefully making you hold a baby when you don’t want it
  • Bringing in objects or beings you’re allergic to and lying about it

How to bring it up?

Since you must set your boundaries properly, simple communication can help you deal with them. Let’s find out how to express them well…

  • “I can’t keep walking, I gotta sit before continuing.”
  • “I’m really hungry… I can’t concentrate on anything without a bite.”
  • “Ahh not to offend you, but I prefer fist bumps over hugs. So, wanna bump?”
  • “I don’t like the way you touch me. Please stop that.”
  • “Next time, knock before you enter my room.”
  • “I’m not good with babies, can I skip on holding them?”
  • “I’ll appreciate it if you don’t bring your pet to my place… I’m allergic to their fur.”
  • “Don’t hit me so hard, it really hurts. If you do it again, I’ll take it as my cue to leave.”
  • “I can hear fine even if you don’t scream. Calmly tell me, I’ll get the work done.”
  • “I feel uncomfortable screaming from the bathroom. Next time, wait until I’m out.”

2. Sexual Boundaries

In new relationships, people don’t feel comfy jumping into sex. If you need time before you sexually engage with your partner, that’s fine.

There’s nothing out of the ordinary about needing time to warm up to them.

If you don’t feel comfortable being sexually active, you won’t enjoy it. Further, sex might become a traumatic topic if someone forces it on you. And obviously, forced sex is rape… sexual abuse is possible in romantic relationships too.

Examples of boundary violations

Sexual boundary violation or sexual harassment is quite straightforward like these…

  • Excessive sexual activity even when you’re drained
  • Listening to sexual remarks that make you uncomfortable
  • Being sexually touched or stared at against your will
  • Being expected to want sex because you’re in a relationship
  • Being mistreated if denied sex
  • Non-consensual sex
  • Refusing or lying about contraception
  • Being mocked for your sexual orientation or preferences
  • Refusing foreplay and forcing penetrative sex without lube
  • Lying about STD status

How to bring it up?

If a person lies about their STI status and infects you, that’s unforgivable. Or if your partner forces you into some sexual activity without consent, that’s sexual abuse. Openly communicate your boundaries and if they refuse, it’s time to end things.

  • “This position hurts, can’t we try a comfortable one?”
  • “I don’t feel like having sex, can I take a rain-chek?”
  • “I refuse to have unprotected sex.”
  • “I feel tired, can we reschedule it another day? Promise to surprise you!”
  • “Are you in the mood for sex now?”
  • “I found this new sex position, what do you think about it?”
  • “Let me know when it hurts”
  • “I want to only do things you like… so guide me.”
  • “Being in a relationship doesn’t imply we gotta have sex. I’m not prepared yet.”
  • “I don’t feel comfortable with dirty-talking. Can we take it slow?”

3. Emotional Boundaries

This type of boundary is about respecting one another’s emotions, feelings, and opinions.

People who don’t agree on the same kinds of feelings can be friends and lovers too. As long as either of you doesn’t hurt the other, it’s great.

Emotional boundaries can help you understand how much to share, how much the other person or you can accept.

For instance, if someone responds poorly to your emotions, you’re better off keeping quiet. If someone is having a bad time, don’t bother them with your troubles.

Also, you must take the other person’s consent whether they’re ready to take in so many heavy feelings.

Emotions are the core of intimate bonds in any relationship. When you respect others’ emotions, you simultaneously expect them to treat you the same.

Examples of boundary violations

Let’s know how it plays out…

  • Condemning or treating your emotions lightly
  • Asking inappropriate or nosy questions
  • Reading personal journals
  • Demanding justifications for your emotions
  • Supposing you know everything about another and giving them unsolicited advice
  • Evaluating the reasons behind people’s feelings to dismiss them
  • Troubling others with your emotional baggage without consent
  • Telling your children complex emotional info
  • Expecting another to solve your emotional issues
  • Making fun or blackmailing someone with an emotional topic

How to bring it up?

Once again, if you have a gut feeling they’re at it intentionally, walk out on them. If you’re unsure, try these…

  • “You always criticize my emotions. I don’t feel like sharing anything with you anymore.”
  • “If you can’t respect my feelings, I don’t think I can talk with you.”
  • “I don’t like it when you go through my things without my knowledge. Don’t do that again.”
  • “I wanna ramble a bit now… are you available?”
  • “I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m in a pinch. Is it okay if I get back to you later?”
  • “I wish I could help, but this is just not my cup of tea. I’m so sorry for letting you down.”
  • “This topic doesn’t bring good memories. Let’s change it.”
  • “You possibly think you understand me… but it’s way more confusing. So, let it be.”
  • “Don’t dissect my emotions. If I feel sad, then that’s it… don’t belittle it.”
  • “If you think my emotions are a joke or object, we’re better off being strangers.”

4. Intellectual Boundaries

Intellectual boundaries are about your ideas, thoughts, creativity, and curiosity. It can be about your political ideologies or about your favorite soccer player or actor. It differs even among closest friends.

Again, as long as you have a civil and respectful discussion that’s great… but it can easily turn into an argument. But the argument or debate can be respectful even if heated.

So long you don’t say hurtful words about someone’s ideas or views, you’re good to go. It doesn’t mean you gotta accept everything. Respect your and their thoughts together.

Also, if anyone tries to harm someone intellectually you’re most welcome to call them out.

Examples of boundary violations

These can range from mild to extreme ones, like here…

  • Being racist, sexist, or homophobic and sharing hateful content or thoughts about them
  • Making fun of your ideologies
  • Arguing endlessly about the same thing
  • Making you feel uncomfortable about certain topics
  • Calling you stupid, dumb, or the likes
  • Attacking your political beliefs
  • Beginning a hate rally against a certain part of society
  • Talking down to you
  • Making every debate into a nasty fight
  • Rubbing off the loss of the side you support

How to bring it up?

Intellectual boundaries are extremely sensitive. So, if you feel someone is ethically wrong, don’t tolerate it.

Break contact and stay away from such people. They’ll only take a toll on you mentally. But you can still try changing the situation this way…

  • “I know we have different views so why even bother?”
  • “Is it fun to talk about a loss? Continue it, I have better places to be.”
  • “I don’t like where this convo is going. I really don’t have time for this.”
  • “My idea might be different, but it’s certainly not stupid.”
  • “If you’re gonna be sexist/racist/homophobic, then I can’t stay in the same place as you.”
  • “If you don’t stop this demeaning rally, someone might call the cops” Or, just call the cops and keep quiet.
  • “It’s okay if we disagree, there’s nothing to blow it up.”
  • “When you behave like that, I feel you want to disrespect/hurt me. Did I get it right?”
  • “I can’t talk with someone who denies having a broader mind”
  • “Saying my opinions are wrong won’t change my mind. So, the point?”

5. Financial Boundaries

This part deals with money, bank accounts, credit or debit cards… anything which you might use for financial transactions.

It can be about lending or borrowing money. It might also be about being someone’s guarantor for a loan. If you feel pressured, then that’s more reason to not yield to any financial request.

Examples of boundary violations

Financial boundaries aren’t negotiable because they’re life-threatening. Here are some…

  • Asking for money without paying back previous loans
  • Exploiting cards
  • Not justifying the reasons behind major money withdrawals
  • Coercing into making a joint account
  • Taking away the card of your own bank account
  • Lending money from a joint account without your co-account holder’s knowledge
  • Making an unnecessary huge purchase with the excuse that they wanted to surprise you
  • Pickpocketing from a loved one
  • Blaming others for not paying back the money
  • Dodging payments

How to bring it up?

Sometimes you can communicate to figure out financial issues. But, don’t go too easy on others, lest they take advantage of you. If you feel someone is controlling your own money, call the cops… you aren’t safe.

  • “I’ll appreciate it if you pay back your last debt before you ask for more.”
  • “It seems I can’t trust you with my cards anymore.”
  • “I need the reasons behind the withdrawals. I won’t if it was your money.”
  • “I don’t wanna make a joint account. If either of us needs money, we can ask one another.”
  • “I won’t tolerate you holding onto the card of my account… that’s abuse.”
  • “It’s our money… at least give me a heads up before you take major monetary decisions”
  • “We really didn’t need this huge purchase. If you have the bill, let’s consider returning it.”
  • “I would’ve lent you some if you asked. But I don’t think I can trust a pickpocketer.”
  • “You borrowed the money, so you’ll pay me back. Prepare it without excuses.”
  • “You know I’m here for the payment. Why change the topic? How much longer do you need?”

6. Material Boundaries

Material boundaries are about your valuable possessions. It might be a dress, a car, your house, or even a precious pencil box your mother gifted you.

The importance of materials doesn’t depend on their monetary worth alone. It might be emotionally valuable too. So, if someone breaks a cheap object and says you can buy it again… don’t listen to that.

You can’t link your emotions for material with its price alone. In fact, when an object isn’t pricey but holds deep value in your heart, refrain from lending them.

Examples of boundary violations

Like I said, it’s mostly about your possessions like these…

  • Borrowing your car and sabotaging it
  • Taking your dress and not returning on time
  • Wearing someone else’s jewelry and losing it
  • Partying at a friend’s house and leaving it littered
  • Joking about breaking something sentimentally important but cheap
  • How to bring it up?
  • Either be straightforward that it’s not possible or make excuses, whichever suits your palate, like these…
  • “I can’t lend you my car. Another friend already booked it beforehand.’
  • “If you really need my dress, sure… but I need it intact, by the day after tomorrow.”
  • “This is a family heirloom… I can’t lend this jewelry even if you beg me.”
  • “If you guys don’t clean up after the party, this will be the last time.”
  • “This isn’t a fancy object… just important to me. I can’t give it to you even if you ask me. It’s not replaceable.”

7. Time Boundaries

Time is an invaluable property… once lost you can never get it back. You have lots of commitments in your life – your parents, partner, work, children, or even pets.

You can neither equally distribute your time, nor give anyone all the attention. At most, you can try your best to spare more time.

But compromising one important task for another is a hard call.

Usually, family and life partners get the shorter side of the stick… but you gotta try to make up for the loss.

Examples of boundary violations

  • These are quite basic and direct like…
  • Demanding people’s time as you own them
  • Taking professional opinions but not paying them properly
  • Demanding people to commit more time than you asked
  • Canceling plans at the eleventh hour
  • Blowing people’s phones when they’re busy

How to bring it up?

If someone has a history of wasting your time, don’t give them another chance. But give them the last chance this way…

  • “I have prior engagements, I can’t come… I’m sorry.”
  • “I got your back hoping for something in return… if you don’t get me my agreed wages, I won’t help again”
  • “I promised only this much time. I can help out any other time.”
  • “My time is precious so if you cancel once more, I’m done hanging out.”
  • “I’m busy now, please don’t call me. I won’t pick up now.”

8. Expectation Boundaries

Another regular boundary issue is expectations. Both in personal and professional life, people have great expectations from you. And if it’s not mutual, it can take a mental toll on you.

Communication is the only key to solving such mismatched expectations. Otherwise, how else will people understand?

Examples of boundary violations

It’s not easy to stop others from expecting, but it still hurts us. Some are…

  • Expecting you’ll never have conflicts in the relationships
  • Hoping your partner to stay loyal and exclusive
  • Assuming a person can be your friend/partner only if they’re flawless
  • Thinking someone must give you more time
  • Insulting for not meeting expectations

How to bring it up?

Honest and open communication helps this case, but let’s consider some ways

  • “I hope we don’t have too many fights… but even if we do, let’s maturely try figuring out together.”
  • “I’m interested in an exclusive relationship, What do you think about only dating me?”
  • “Everyone makes mistakes… let’s learn through them.”
  • “What do you expect from me? How long must we spend time together?”
  • “Even if I can’t meet your expectations, at least don’t try to hurt me.”

9. Workplace Boundaries

Your workplace demands a substantial amount of dedication from you. They want to get the best value from the money they spend on you.

Many people think devoting yourself more to work may help you highlight yourself. It does, but at what cost?

Working against your bodily needs might result in burnout, stress, or other severe health issues. It’s more obvious in managerial posts. On the other hand, new workers get bullied or burdened by their seniors.

Also, sometimes people take overwork for granted… it feels worst to be unappreciated for your efforts. So, boundaries are important in the workplace too.

Examples of boundary violations

Sometimes your coworker might unknowingly cross the line, but don’t compromise for that. Let’s know how it rolls out…

  • Contacting you for work beyond duty hours
  • Consuming your after-work hours even when you’re done with your work
  • Bullying you into overworking
  • Taking your projects and stealing credit
  • Making you run double shifts because of low manpower

How to bring it up?

The secret is being respectful and direct. Let’s know how to roll…

  • “I have other engagements and am not available for work now”
  • “I’d love to help you out, but I’m beat today”
  • “Don’t bully me anymore. It makes me want to contact the HR”
  • “I have proof that you stole my project, surrender” (if you really have proof) or “I’ll involve the higher authorities in this matter”
  • “I didn’t sign up for multiple shifts… I appreciate the opportunity, but I’m not that capable of”

10. Spiritual Boundaries

This mainly includes your spiritual and religious beliefs. Such boundary issues arise when two people of different beliefs live together.

If your partner disrespects your spiritual or religious boundaries in a relationship, communicate about it. If it seems intentional, you better not stay back. Otherwise, this will become emotional abuse.

If it was unintentional, you gotta make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Examples of boundary violations

It might be unintentional or intentional, like these…

  • Being disrespectful towards your religion
  • Knowingly destroying your worshiping place
  • Breaking some previously established rules of your worshiping place, like wearing shoes or dirty clothes
  • Touching you or your worshiping place in “unclean” form
  • Joking about religious or spiritual belief

How to bring it up?

If anyone destroys your god’s idols, religious texts, or worshiping places, don’t stay. The malicious intent is clear so leave. Check out for other times…

  • “Can you not disrespect my beliefs? I don’t do that with your beliefs.”
  • “This is my precious place. I’ll appreciate it if you don’t harm it”
  • “I think we discussed not doing xyz in my worshiping place, so refrain from that… or I’ll understand it’s intentional.”
  • “Don’t touch me before I’m done worshiping.”
  • “I don’t know what’s so funny, but at least my beliefs make others smile.”

11. Digital Boundaries

This one is quite tricky because it depends on you and your partner’s feelings about it. You have all the right to keep your social media all to yourself.

But if a couple wants to mutually breach the social media boundaries in a relationship, it isn’t a big issue.

So long it’s consensual, snooping through one another’s accounts can be fun… but not behind your partner’s back.

Also, your partner might demand certain kinds of securities that also fall under boundaries.

Examples of boundary violations

These are some basic boundaries couples usually break…

  • Sharing relationship updates on social media without your partner’s consent
  • Flirting with your partner’s friends online
  • Tagging one another without consent
  • Always texting on social media and hoping for quick replies
  • Updating and tagging in your relationship status non-consensually
  • How to bring it up?
  • The answer is always communication, like these…
  • “Is it okay if I tag you in my posts?”
  • “Can we go public with our relationship status?”
  • “To me, flirting online with my friends is equally hurtful as cheating. So, don’t do that if you respect me.”
  • “I might not be always available to text you back, so don’t mind.”
  • “Can I post about our relationship dynamics online?”

12. History Boundaries

We have all done something we regretted in our life. We close that chapter and drown in shame whenever we remember that. So, your partner doesn’t need to know everything about you.

If it’s an uncomfortable topic, we don’t touch it. If someone still asks it, they just want to poke fun at or judge you. And if anybody does, you’re better off without them.

Examples of boundary violations

  • Some uncomfortable ways you or someone else violate them are…
  • Constantly asking how far you went with your last partners in details
  • Asking you to compare the sex with your ex
  • Threatening you to spill your body count or break up
  • Asking about a traumatic experience
  • Asking your friends about your past

How to bring it up?

If your partner or even a friend pries in your past too much… it’s better to break contact. They don’t respect you and only wanna quench their curiosity.

  • “I’m not comfortable sharing my past sex life… so how does it matter our relationship?”
  • “My past is in the past, why must I compare you with them? I feel uncomfortable”
  • “Is my body count more important than our relationship? I would’ve gotten my STI and STD status instead. But I don’t think we can work it out.”
  • “Those memories are very uncomfortable… I don’t wanna talk about it, please.”
  • “I wish you didn’t reach out to my friends like that. It really hurt me”

13. Privacy Boundaries

Privacy might imply social security number, bank access, card pin, social media credentials, or even your house or a safe key.

Even if you’re married, you have the right to keep a few things private… as long as it doesn’t hurt them or your relationship. Obviously, I won’t support an infidelity case.

Examples of boundary violations

People still don’t get it straight… and violate it like…

  • Asking for phone, social media, or credit and debit credentials
  • Sulking if you deny sharing such info
  • Snooping through your devices and messages
  • Demanding to remove your friends, relatives, or coworkers from your social media
  • Forcing you to make an opinion about something

How to bring it up?

Again communication is key…

  • “I’m sorry but I can’t share such important details”
  • “If you sulk over my private info, it feels like I’m unfaithful”
  • “I hope you don’t snoop through my texts… if you’re doubtful, I’ll show it to you myself”
  • “You might not like all my friends but that doesn’t mean I must break contacts without a cause”
  • “I don’t feel comfortable passing remarks about it… so count me out.”

14. Decision Boundaries

Your life decisions are yours. You have the complete right to follow your dreams and make decisions for yourself. However, sharing these with your partner plays a big role in relationships.

If your partner feels hurt that you didn’t tell them about it, that’s normal. However, if they try to control your decisions, that’s the beginning of toxic dynamics. Let’s understand with

Examples of boundary violations

Some of these can be major deal-breakers and extremely hurtful like these…

  • Forcing their decisions on you
  • Hiding major life decisions
  • Expecting to change your goals for a relationship
  • Assuming your decisions doesn’t hurt them
  • Demanding you to compromise for their goals

How to bring it up?

A relationship always needs communication, understanding, and empathy…

  • “I always dreamed about working in B city… I’m sorry if you’re hurt by the move. I promise to make things work”
  • “Since I’m your partner, I expect you’ll keep me in the loop. It seems like I’m not important”
  • “I’m serious about this relationship. But please don’t force me to lose this opportunity… else I’ll not be happy.”
  • “I felt we’re both together since we’re dating… Sure we’re not married… but it still bothers me that you took such decisions”
  • “I support you with all my heart… Please grow to be the best person out there. But don’t force me to forget my dreams. I hope you respect my dreams too.”

15. Ethical Boundaries

Everyone has some morals in their life. And it might not always match with others. Something unethical for you might not be illegal, so others might practice it and still be good people.

But it’s completely fine as long as either of you don’t force anyone to change.

Examples of boundary violations

Ethics are non-negotiable, so if someone violates these boundaries, retreat!

  • Forcing you to try something unethical
  • Judging someone for having different morals
  • Making fun of ethics
  • Forcing you to see someone else violating your beliefs
  • Logical reasoning someone out of their ethics

How to bring it up?

Try to communicate as a last chance… but don’t hope too much.

  • “I’ll appreciate it if you don’t coerce me into this. Let me be”
  • “I don’t mind that you have different beliefs… so why demean mine?”
  • “It’s nice to know my morals bring you joy”
  • “You violating my morals speaks plenty about your nature… it has nothing to do with me”
  • “Perhaps my ethics are just superstitions to you… but I don’t need you to understand it or dissect it”

Want to change your life? Here we go…

How to enforce boundaries in relationships?

Whether it’s a personal relationship or a professional one… boundaries are equally important everywhere.

Based on the importance of boundaries, you must look forward to setting them. Otherwise, you might lose precious relationships.

So here are some steps on how you can set boundaries in a relationship

Step 1: Don’t delay the process

Many are scared of finding what they want or fear rejection. It’s normal to feel unsure… but why not try it? Think slowly and steadily about the different kinds of boundaries here.

Is there anything that bothers you? Anything you wish to change in your relationship? Write them down when you find one.

Write down the issue, what you want, and how you want to change it.

It’s just the beginning though, so you can scribble as much as you want. There’s nothing shameful about it, so explore your heart well.

Step 2: Express yourself calmly

Once you find out, tell your partner what you feel. If you feel hesitant, share the link to this piece so they can understand what’s happening.

And of course, no attacking or blaming. Take deep breaths before you express yourself. If you feel nervous, note down how you’ll discuss the matter.

Step 3: Take charge

Use more I statements… they’re more impactful, show your intentions and don’t fuel conflicts.

If you go with “You always do that” they’ll only hear blaming.

If you use “So, I found that I’m not okay with so much touching/spending…”  and the rest is one of your needs. Don’t include them in your phrases when you express yourself.

And in the end, ask “How do you feel about it?” or “What’s your opinion?”

Step 4: Take space and time

If your partner or you need more time or space apart to sort out your feelings… go ahead. It won’t hurt either of you. Also, you might actually understand something when you’re apart.

Step 5: Say no when it bugs you

If there’s a rigid boundary like finances, privacy, physical space, or anything other that you cannot compromise at all… Time to tell them it’s non-negotiable.

For instance, if they’re spendthrift or can’t maintain finances, ask them to pay off their debts asap and consider ways to stabilize finances. If it’s a privacy issue, tell them it’s uncomfortable for you.

Step 6: Discuss it lovingly

Though it’s an important topic, keep the tone down. If this person is a loved one, family, friend, or partner, don’t ditch your emotions.

Show them you still care… but you can’t sacrifice your comfort either.

If it’s someone from your professional world, keep things respectful, short, and straightforward. Always thank them for the opportunities they provide.

Step 7: If they don’t agree, find middle grounds

Your and your partner’s beliefs might clash. For instance, you aren’t the snuggly type, but your partner likes to snuggle in bed. Gotta compromise a bit… perhaps, begin with hand-holding in bed.

However, don’t get mad if you wake up with them clinging on to you. It’s a habit, not intentional.

However, if they force PDA on you, or won’t allow you privacy, those are red flags.

Step 8: Back up with facts

When you want them to follow certain boundaries, bring some facts along.

Why can’t you particularly handle something in the relationship? The reasons will play an important part in the convo. They’ll feel you care for them and understand better.

Step 9: Learn their side of the story

If they can’t maintain a boundary, there might be a good reason. Let them do some talking. Determine accordingly and be open to considering their thoughts.

If you can’t judge unbiasedly, then seek a couples’ therapist to build healthy boundaries.

Step 10: Expect some respect

Even if you can’t completely abide by all the boundaries, you both deserve respect. So, don’t intentionally hurt one another’s boundaries and be open to learning through the way.

But that didn’t cover everything. So, let’s check some…

FAQs about boundaries in Relationships

Setting healthy boundaries in romantic relationships isn’t easy. There will be mistakes and even doubts. Wondering how to pave the way? Let’s learn it for once and all here…

1. How to communicate about boundaries in relationships?

The boundary conversation must be honest, respectful, and direct. Let them know with “I’m not comfortable about this thing…”

Also, if you’re unsure about someone’s boundaries, ask them. It’s better you ask a million times rather than knowingly stepping on landmines. Then ask what they feel about it with “Are you okay about it?”

2. Can boundaries change?

With experience, human beings’ perceptions and feelings change… so it’s completely natural to change boundaries. You have the complete right to change your boundaries… because it defines your comfort level.

For instance, you might not be alright with sexual contact in a relationship. But, it can change with time when you trust your partner more.

3. What if I break unknown boundaries?

This is a risky one. It’s always important to keep one another in a loop at the beginning of a relationship. For instance, you want to open your relationship.

Learn to know how to set boundaries in an open relationship. Don’t expect your partner to be fine with it.

However, if you hugged them in public unknowingly, that’s acceptable. And since you’re here, discuss boundary setting in your relationship asap.

4. What to do if I cross a boundary unintentionally?

Firstly are you honest it was unintentional? If no, then that’s unacceptable… your partner will feel betrayed.

If it’s honestly unintentional, confess it to your partner. Tell them you’re really sorry and didn’t mean it. They’ll need some time and get over it… meanwhile, don’t stop showing you’re sorry.

5. What if we have trouble setting boundaries?

Your last resort is a couples therapist or a licensed marriage counselor.

They can help you figure out your boundaries, set the important ones first, and adjust with the negotiable ones. If you’re both still enthusiastic about the relationship despite the differences, that’s a great sign itself.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

If you haven’t set any boundaries yet, consider them right now! Begin it ASAP because you’ll know yourself and your likes and dislikes better with boundaries.

You’ll help others understand yourself… and it’ll also inspire them to know more about themselves. Boundaries can, undoubtedly, make your relationships more transparent, sweet, and long-lasting.

You can build boundaries only if you communicate properly. And as all relationship experts say, honest and open communication can build the foundation of the best relationships.

Also, blurred boundaries in relationships can do more harm. It doesn’t save or protect your relationship, rather makes it more fragile. So, fence up soon!