New relationship, new rules.
We are setting boundaries every day.
We drive in our own lane. We obey the limits marked by a colleague’s desk or cubicle. We maintain a respectable distance in a queue. Yet, many of us think that boundaries are unnecessary and even offensive in a romantic relationship.
Many women don’t set healthy boundaries in their relationships. Instead, they think their partner should be able to anticipate their wants and needs. Some even fear that setting boundaries in relationships will interfere with the romance and spontaneity. Others feel that boundaries are downright callous.
Why should you set boundaries in new relationships from the get-go?
A healthy relationship, like every other area of your life, requires boundaries. Boundaries define responsibility in the relationship and create natural limits. These limits work to your mutual benefit since the overall expectations are clearly worked out.
Learning how to set boundaries is essential for eliminating blame in the relationship. According to clinical psychologist Ryan Howes, clear boundaries determine where you end, and your partner begins. When you are both clear on which responsibilities are yours and which ones are his, you have less conflict and fewer misunderstandings.
Boundaries communicate your tolerances to each other. You and your partner have different emotional thresholds. When you set boundaries, you are letting your boyfriend know there are certain things you will not tolerate: being lied to, shouted at, being silenced or mistreated. Limits make more healthy and peaceful relationships.
Not all men are going to have the same values as you so it’s important to get it right from the start.
What happens when you don’t set healthy boundaries?
Not only will you be in an unhealthy relationship, but you also cannot hope to be a woman of high self-esteem as you mourn the behavior of a man who is crossing boundaries and treating you indecently.
Failure to set boundaries means that you will have to deal with:
- Messy habits
- Jealous spying
- Broken promises
- Dangerous lifestyle: alcohol or drug abuse
- Angry behavior
- Oppression and resentment
- Power struggles
If you do not believe in boundaries and accept anything and everything, the problems that may arise in future are yours, not your boyfriend’s.
The core determinant when establishing patterns of behavior in your relationship is acceptance and rejection. Boundaries help you to clearly communicate with your boyfriend what things you accept and which ones you reject. If you don’t do one, you do the other.
Here are 6 healthy boundaries all new couples need to discuss.
1. Sexual expression
You and your boyfriend will have some different ideas about sex. For example:
- You may like sex in the morning while he enjoys it in the evening.
- He may love sex in odd places while you may enjoy sex more in the comfort of your home.
- You may be wild, he may like it slow and sensual.
The point is, if you and your boyfriend don’t know where your sexual boundaries lie, one of you will spend their time in the relationship faking sexual satisfaction.
Determine your sexual needs and preferences as well as how much wiggle room for adventure exists within your relationship. Violating sexual boundaries in a relationship is not just unhealthy, it can be abusive.
There’s typically no more of a sensitive topic in any relationship. Money is powerful and can turn a good relationship sour. Your incomes, spending methods, saving patterns: all these could bring some significant trust issues in the relationship.
You and your boyfriend should regularly sit down and discuss financial boundaries. Ask each other, “What dollar figure is the limit that we need to discuss together before we decide to buy or not buy it?”
It is also important to decide how you will spend your money, create a budget, and be on the same page where financial goals are concerned.
The above is easy to understand and get the message across that money is a shared topic. You are a team, and you must operate as such to be successful in your relationship.
Discussing financial boundaries is not an expectancy of a failed relationship; it is a matter of convenience which will help you avoid sticky entanglements later in the relationship.
3. How you settle disagreements
All relationships have conflict,
If you adequately address how you will fight in your relationship, you can quickly solve all your problems. According to an article on Psychology Today, conflicts and arguments do not necessarily jeopardize your relationship.
Indeed, there are times when disagreements can bring you and your boyfriend together. The key is how you and your boyfriend decide to handle your conflict.
- Give the silent treatment?
- Laugh when there is conflict?
- Make underhanded comments?
- Get the person out of your physical space?
Once you are aware of how you both handle conflict, then you can set up a rule in advance when you are both more level headed. (For example, agree that if one gives the silent treatment for two days, tell them that they are being silly and the point has been made.)
Conflicts, when mishandled, can ultimately break the relationship up. Work together with your boyfriend to determine the appropriate way for you to deal with anger and how you will treat each other when you are upset.
4. Social media
Social media has completely permeated romantic relationships. Jordan Gray, a sex and dating coach, indicates that as of late, relationship therapy sessions are filled with stories about social media interference with relationships like snooping on partners’ Facebook accounts, a lot of suspicions, and anger when partners follow their exes on Instagram.
A survey by Pew Research Center in 2014 revealed that 45 percent of the respondents said that their social media account had a major impact on their relationships.
You may be hesitant to discuss boundaries on social media usage since you may think that social media is too frivolous to argue over. However, you must realize that social media stirs up real feelings, and those feelings matter.
As such, agree with your boyfriend on:
- How to prioritize quality time together without social media
- What you should and should not post.
- To what extent you should engage your exes online.
5. How you spend your time
Your relationship will thrive when you spend quality time together — and separately. Therefore, you need to set boundaries on how you will not only spend time together but also have some solo time scheduled with friends and family.
If you do not set up time boundaries in your relationship, you will have problems in your relationship and also in the relationships with your family and friends. Talk with your partner about your expectations for time together and time alone and you will have a more fulfilling relationship.
6. Your limits
Bear in mind that the concept of boundaries may be unnatural to your boyfriend. Therefore, to make your boundaries efficient:
- Be firm, yet kind. Do not be mean or hurtful when you set a boundary. The more you approach the boundary conversation with love and compassion, the better the conversation will go.
- Be consistent. Once you set a boundary, do not dismiss it or ignore it. When you undermine the boundaries, you will have taught your boyfriend to disrespect them too. As such, stand behind your words at all times.
Remember the signs of a healthy relationship include boundaries and boundaries are not static. The types of boundaries in relationships can change as your relationship progresses or as you find out more information about each other.
Feel free to revisit the boundaries when the need arises.
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