21 Examples Of Healthy Boundaries In Relationships

No matter the nature of your relationship, setting boundaries is a critical component to maintaining a healthy connection with your partner.

Seeking a close partnership should not have to conflict with your needs.

Becoming one as a couple means holistically knowing yourself, understanding your personal and emotional needs, and being able to communicate them to your significant other effectively.

It isn’t always easy to understand what your boundary issues are and how to communicate them.

We've created a relationship boundaries guide to help you on your path to a loving and healing cohabitation. 

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What Are Healthy Boundaries in Relationships?

Have you ever felt you’re giving too much of yourself to your partner, and you’re feeling resentful? That's where boundaries come in. 

Boundaries are the lines you draw to define what you're comfortable with in your relationship. They allow you to respect your own needs and values while also considering your partner's. You’re not building walls but rather creating a healthy space where you both can thrive. 

According to Brene Brown, researcher, author, and motivational speaker, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”

When you set healthy boundaries, you're saying, “This is who I am, and this is what I need.” It's a way to keep your relationship balanced, respectful, and fulfilling for both of you.

couple sitting at table talking Examples Of Healthy Boundaries In Relationships

Healthy boundaries are a reflection of your principles, rules, and guidelines that you have set for yourself.

A break in those boundaries arises when your partner disrespects, ignores, or isn't aware of those principles or personal needs.

Types of Boundaries in Relationships

There are different types of boundaries you can establish with your partner. Each type addresses a specific aspect of your relationship and helps you maintain a healthy, respectful, and fulfilling connection. Here are some of the key areas where setting boundaries can be particularly beneficial:

  • Emotional boundaries: These are about protecting your feelings and mental well-being. It's knowing when to share and when to keep things to yourself.
  • Physical boundaries: This is all about your personal space and comfort level with touch and intimacy.
  • Time boundaries: You've got a life outside your relationship, right? Time boundaries are like a clock that helps you balance your relationship with your other commitments and interests, ensuring you have enough time for yourself and your partner.
  • Communication boundaries: These boundaries are about how, when, and what you communicate with your partner and how they communicate with you.

21 Examples of Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

There are many types of boundaries in relationships, as well as boundaries in a marriage, that can establish better communication and intimacy.

Some conversations may be easier than others, but it's better they occur with preparation rather than during the tense moments after an argument.

Examples of Emotional Boundaries To Set

1. Saying No

You may find it easier to sacrifice your own needs for your partner's out of a fear of upsetting them.

However, if they ask something of you that goes against your principles, disrespects your time, or forces you to sacrifice something important, it's okay to say no. It doesn’t have to be harsh, but learn to say it assertively

2. Refusing to Take Blame

Sometimes, your partner may place the blame on you out of hurt or guilt. This behavior does not mean their anger is your fault. Do not let them skirt responsibility by manipulating your emotions. Acknowledge their pain, let them know you are there for them, but assert that you will not accept responsibility for their actions. 

3. Expecting Respect

You deserve kindness and loving communication. If you feel your partner is speaking from unjustified anger or with a disrespectful tone, you are within your right to remove yourself from the scenario.

Let them know that if they want to have a conversation, it must come from a place of respect. 

4. Dictating Your Own Feelings

When you're part of a couple, opinions and emotions can feel blurred. Learn to decipher your feelings from your partner's and their perception of your feelings. If they speak for you, correct them and kindly ask that they do not dictate your emotions for you. 

5. Finding Your Identity Outside of the Relationship

Codependency can lead to a melding of identities. “I” becomes “we,” and the “you” gets lost in the mix. Remember that you are not just one half of a whole but your own person with passions, interests, and vibrant intelligence. It’s okay to have a sense of self separate from your partner.

6. Accepting Help

Some people are more independent and find difficulty relying on their partner in tough times. If you need help, it can be good to establish where your boundaries are and what you do and do not want help with.

You may ask for help with finances but need space when dealing with family issues. This balance can be a delicate tango, but open communication leads to a smoother rhythm. 

7. Asking for Space

Sometimes we just need to be alone in emotional upheaval. In a relationship, it can seem like you never are. Asking for space may feel to your partner like you are pushing him or her away, even though that's not your intention.

Alone time is perfectly healthy and a key to maintaining your own identity and sorting through your problems. If you aren’t clear about needing space, your partner might feel neglected or that you're avoiding them. Establishing upfront that you like to spend time alone will help later on. 

8. Communicating Discomfort 

Whether your partner tells a hurtful joke or crosses a physical line, learning to articulate your discomfort clearly will help in setting your boundaries. Let them know what you will not tolerate, and plan a course of action if he or she crosses that boundary.

Phrases like “Please don’t do that, it makes me uncomfortable” or “I don’t like it when you ( ex: use that word, touch me there, use that tone)” are clear and concise. 

9. Sharing Mutually 

It’s okay to take things slowly at the beginning of a relationship. Don’t feel pressured to share everything upfront or feel you have to share first for your significant other to open up. Vulnerability should be mutual, with both partners checking in and creating a safe space for sharing. 

10. Sticking Up for Yourself

In an argument, you or your partner may say things you regret that are mean or ugly. Establish that you won't accept him or her speaking to you that way. You have intrinsic worth and deserve to be spoken to kindly. Make it known that you need an apology and that you need your partner to acknowledge the hurt their words have caused. 

11. Choosing to be Vulnerable 

Vulnerability should not be demanded. Of course, it is an important component of a healthy relationship, but you should never feel pressured to open up about a difficult topic in any stage of your relationship.

couple sitting on sofa talking Examples Of Healthy Boundaries In Relationships

You share your feelings and experiences on your terms. You should feel safe to communicate that you may need time to discuss specific topics or memories. 

Examples of Personal Boundaries

12. Your Right to Privacy

There are many different levels of privacy. You may share a home computer, but keep your email password to yourself. This choice is reasonable. Your belongings, thoughts, texts, journal entries, and even topics as big as past relationships or traumas are yours to share or not share at your discretion. Infringement on those boundaries is not acceptable. 

13. The Ability to Change Your Mind

Your choices are your decision, as is the option to make a new one. If you change your mind, your partner should not make you feel guilty for it. Be clear with your reasoning or simply state that you decided to change your mind. Of course, being open is important, but it should happen on your terms. 

14. Your Right to Your Own Time

You get to dictate where and with whom you spend your time, alone or apart. Maybe you don’t love going to Monday night football. Establish that Monday nights are your alone time or your weekly wine night with your pals. Perhaps you need to be by yourself for a few days after a big fight; you are within your right to ask for that. 

15. The Need to Handle Negative Energy

A personal boundary can also be one that you set for your own behavior. It is important to navigate unhealthy anger and resentment so you aren’t bringing negative energy into a shared space.

If you can’t let it out on your own, ask for help. Share your negative emotions and lighten those toxic feelings by being honest about your mood. 

16. The Freedom to Express Sexual Boundaries

The beginnings of physical intimacy with a new partner is an exciting time, but navigating personal boundaries in sex can be awkward or even scary. Openly communicating your needs or discomforts is essential, though finding the words can be tricky.

Remember that every step you take requires enthusiastic consent from your partner, and you should never feel pressured into anything. Talk with each other regularly. Share fantasies and discuss boundaries. Honesty and vulnerability are powerful.

17. The Freedom to Express Spiritual Boundaries 

Your beliefs are your own, no matter how much you may or may not have in common with your partner in terms of spirituality or religion. You and your significant other should respect each other’s beliefs, foster and encourage each other’s spiritual growth, and be open to learning about the other’s culture or faith. 

18. The Right to Remain True to Your Principles

Set a boundary with yourself that your principles remain in place no matter who you are dating. Of course, you can change your mind as your conversations with your partner open new doors to new ideas. But you shouldn't feel pressured to adopt his or her stances out of fear of upsetting them. 

19. The Ability to Communicate Physical Needs

Learn to communicate what your body needs. Are you a vegetarian and don’t want meat in the house? Are you an early riser who needs to be in bed before 10:00 pm? Then make sure your partner respects your physical needs by not making loud noises or watching TV late into the evening.

On the other hand, learn about your significant other's boundaries. If they prefer a later bedtime, work out an arrangement rather than pressuring them to go to sleep before their biological clock allows them to. 

20. Your Right to Your Material Possessions 

Deciding what to share and what to keep for yourself is never an easy task. Some couples open joint bank accounts, while others forego that for financial independence. Material and financial boundaries are commonplace in every relationship. 

21. Your Ability to Manage Your Own Time

Another relationship boundary to set for yourself is learning to manage your time in a way that doesn’t disrespect your significant other’s.

When you're single, you can put off doing the dishes as long as you want. However, in a relationship, your time is not just your own. If you agree to date at 8:00 pm, it’s essential to stick to your word.

That means learning to manage your time respectfully, even when you're alone. 

How Do You Know It's Time to Set Boundaries in Your Relationship?

It can be tough to recognize when your boundaries are being crossed, especially in a love relationship. You might find yourself feeling drained, frustrated, or even resentful towards your partner without fully understanding why. 

In his book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, therapist and author Henry Cloud states, “One of the first signs that you're beginning to develop boundaries is a sense of resentment, frustration, or anger at the subtle and not-so-subtle violations in your life. Just as radar signals the approach of a foreign missile, your anger can alert you to boundary violations in your life.”

If you constantly feel you're giving more than you're receiving or if you're compromising your own needs and values for the sake of your relationship, it's probably time to start setting some boundaries. 

Other signs that you might need to establish boundaries include feeling disrespected, unheard, or like you're losing yourself in the relationship. Trust your gut – if something doesn't feel right, it's worth exploring why and considering whether a boundary could help.

What Are Common Ways a Partner Will Cross Your Boundaries

Even in the most loving relationships, boundaries can be crossed. Sometimes, it's unintentional – a result of differing expectations or communication styles. Other times, it may reveal deeper issues, such as a lack of respect or an unhealthy power dynamic. Here are some common situations that can occur.

Disregarding Your Need for Space

Everyone needs alone time, but some partners may struggle to respect this need. They might constantly text or call when you've asked for space, or they may pressure you to spend all your free time together.

Ignoring Your Privacy

A partner who crosses boundaries may invade your privacy by snooping through your phone, email, or personal belongings without permission. They might also share private information about you with others without your consent.

Dismissing Your Feelings

When you express your thoughts or emotions, a partner who doesn't respect boundaries may dismiss or invalidate them. They might say things like “You're overreacting” or “It's not a big deal.”

Controlling Your Decisions

Some partners may try to control your choices, from what you wear to who you spend time with. They may use guilt, anger, or manipulation to pressure you into doing what they want.

Pushing Physical Boundaries

A partner who doesn't respect physical boundaries may pressure you for intimacy when you're not in the mood, or they may touch you in ways that make you uncomfortable.

How to Set Boundaries in Relationships

It’s one thing to know what your boundaries are, but it’s a whole different ball game to establish them, especially if that means unlearning bad habits. Try to avoid reactionary anger when setting boundaries.

We often don’t know what our boundaries are until someone crosses them. However, there are better ways to communicate to your partner what they are. 

Here are some thoughts on establishing your boundaries in a relationship:

  • Be clear and specific: Use “I” statements to express your needs and feelings, such as “I need some alone time after work to unwind” or “I feel uncomfortable when you look through my phone without asking.”
  • Communicate calmly and respectfully: Choose a time when both you and your partner are relaxed and open to discussion. Avoid blaming or attacking language, and instead, focus on expressing your own perspective.
  • Be consistent: Once you've set a boundary, stick to it. Consistency helps your partner understand and respect your limits.
  • Be open to compromise: While it's important to stand firm on your non-negotiables, be willing to find a middle ground on issues where you and your partner can both make adjustments.
  • Seek professional help if needed: If you're struggling to set boundaries or if your partner consistently disregards them, consider couples therapy to work through these challenges with the guidance of a trained professional.

Setting your boundaries is an ongoing process. As your relationship evolves, so may your boundaries. Keep the lines of communication open, and don't be afraid to revisit and adjust your boundaries as needed.

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Everything You Want to Know About Female-Led Relationships

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How will you set boundaries in your relationship?

It may be scary to be vulnerable and admit what you need from your significant other, but you know yourself and what you need better than anyone else.

A loving partner, the partner you deserve, will respect and value the boundaries you have set.

1 thought on “21 Examples Of Healthy Boundaries In Relationships”

  1. thank you, for the list of healthy boundaries, ive come from a relationship with a narcisist and a sociopath, left me feeling very confused on every level.. i have now entered into another relationship mind you a year later and often question myself on alot of things. im scared alot and i wonder about those boundaries and respecting time away that im not gonna be hurt hes a good man. and im greatful. so thank you i so needed to hear and read these things.

    S. from Tennessee

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