There are plenty of people who enter relationships not quite understanding what it means to have healthy boundaries. One reason is they just don’t think about what boundaries are and how they can influence relationships. After all, it’s not something we typically learn about in school.
A relationship boundary is a rule or line that defines how you desire others to treat you. Healthy relationships have healthy boundaries. Toxic relationships tend to be lacking in boundaries.
Let’s take a codependent relationship, for example. There’s one or two codependent people unable to set proper emotional and/or physical boundaries. The reasons can vary. Regardless, the lack of boundaries can tear the relationship apart.
How do you know if you are playing part in an enmeshed or codependent relationship?
- You base your whole life around your partner. You neglect other relationships with friends and family.
- You are only happy when your partner is right there giving you attention and things are going well.
- When conflict does arise, you experience extreme anxiousness or fear and do whatever you can to fix the problem.
- You base your self-esteem on the opinion of your partner.
- You base your mood on your partner’s mood.
- When you are away from your partner for too long, you begin to feel this anxious loneliness and NEED to see them soon.
- You take on your partner’s emotions. If they are angry, you become angry. If they are depressed, you become depressed.
How To Set Boundaries
Good news is that you can learn to set healthy boundaries in a relationship. Start reading about what healthy boundaries are and how to set them. There are some pretty amazing books available to help you learn how to set and keep boundaries. Boundaries by Henry Cloud is favored by many. Invest the time and energy into educating yourself and trying things out. You can also check out YouTube videos on the topic!
Get Professional Help
You may need some professional help to learn how to set boundaries and come to understand codependency and relationships better. There’s no shame in asking a counselor to help you navigate your relationship better.
If you notice a negative pattern repeating in your relationships, such as any type of abuse, jealousy, persistent arguing, etc., it can help immensely to explore such patterns with a therapist. You can get to the root of why you keep ending up in toxic relationships or having loose boundaries that ultimately bring the relationship to an end.
Setting a boundary may cause ripples in the relationship, so be prepared to lovingly discuss the boundary with your loved one. Set the boundary with love and kindness and stand your ground respectfully if your partner tries to resist.
For example, if your partner is used to demeaning you for one reason or another, politely say, “I really feel that your tone with me is demeaning and I won’t stand for that anymore. I’d really appreciate it if you talk to me in a respectful tone.” If you say this in a loving and kind way, it will go over much better than if you are angry and judgmental.
They may or may not oblige, but you’ve started drawing lines in the sand, which can help you boost your self-esteem and self-worth. If they continue to demean you, then you may reconsider whether or not you want a relationship with someone who treats you that way.
Spend Time With Friends And Alone
Getting used to being alone at times is healthy. If you’re always with people, it’s tougher to get to know and be comfortable with yourself. It’s also helpful to have some friends to spend time with.
If you have been neglecting friendships, let your partner know that you desire to make a friend and do some things out in the community with them. Know that this is healthy and necessary. You cannot get all of your emotional needs met solely by your partner, so having others in your life is important.
Attend A 12 Step Meeting
If you have a Codependent’s Anonymous meeting near you, make a commitment to attend once a week. You will learn a lot about codependency as well as how to set boundaries. It is nice to become accountable for others who are in the same shoes as you.
If you do not address the toxicity of enmeshed relationships, the life of the relationship will slowly die. The toxic attachment can take two people and make them miserable. Sometimes they don’t even realize what is going on.
Learn as much as you can about codependency and boundaries. You can be proactive in making your relationship thrive. Get started today with these excellent resources: