By Karina Calver
Boundaries are vital in any relationship. It can get trickier in a romantic relationship because as we get to know someone, we want to impress him or her. But there is a fine line between impressing them and being accommodating. So we need to ensure we are honoring ourselves in the process. The thing with boundaries is, it differs from person to person. Boundaries are when someone crosses the line or when we give ourselves to others when we have nothing left in the tank. It can cascade into feeling disrespected or drained. We, as humans get sensitive or hurt by different triggers and while we work ourselves, addressing it to our partner is paramount so we don’t misunderstand what their action mean. When this is unaddressed, it can lead to a series of negative emotional reactions. Here are 3 common ways that we can set boundaries in our relationship.
- Communicate from a place of compassion (versus blame).
Communicating what upsets us is necessary because while it means opening ourselves up to them, it also shows our weak side (which we all have). A partner that honors and loves us will work towards understanding what ticks us off and what doesn’t. Here’s a scenario: your British partner said something innocently and playfully about your (Indian) culture. He didn’t realize you felt offended. So instead of blowing up at him, sit him down and explain why this made you uncomfortable and how it would be important to you if he could be more sensitive to how he said things relating to your culture (get specific) as it triggers you. This needs to be said when you are calm, centered and aware that this wasn’t said to hurt you but it was out of being goofy and mischievous. Even if it was said in a serious tone, first time round of having conversations about boundaries or what you feel offended by needs to be said with calmness and love so your partner is actively listening to you (and taking it in).
- Say No with kindness (but still be firm)
Let me put this context to illustrate a common problem we may face. Your partner wants you to spend the whole weekend with his family but you can’t as you a lot of work to catch up on. But you feel guilty because it is nice to spend time with his family and connect with them. But you don’t have the time and you don’t want to disappoint him either because you know it means a lot to him. So here is when you need to say NO even if he will be disappointed because you also need to look out for yourself. I’m not saying we shouldn’t compromise because I’m big on that. If the work isn’t pressed for time and you can do a bit of both, that would be fabulous. But it is also okay to say NO and that you really can’t. Do this with love. Here’s how I’d say it, “I’d love to spend the weekend with your family because I know it means a lot to you. I’m flooded with work and this is just the worst time, babe. I’m sure you understand.”
- Wanting “Me Time”
There is nothing wrong with needing some time to yourself. If your work is all consuming and you need a day to spa it out or be alone in the gym or dive into a new book and shut the world out then that is what you need. Saying this is crucial so your partner understands how you work as a person. We all need to unplug and recharge ourselves and we all have our own rituals in doing so. Be mindful that this isn’t done on a regular basis. If it is, then it could be that you’re not ready to commit and give yourself to another person (and that’s completely fine). Knowing where you are at and how much of you you’re able to invest in someone else gives you and your partner an understanding of how to pace the relationship.
Have a discussion on boundaries once you start dating because it helps to get to know one another at a deeper level. It allows for you both to learn about each other in way that is far more raw that your everyday conversations. Conversations about boundaries can actually bring you both closer because there is a level of appreciation when someone honors your boundary (and yes, do say thank you because it shows that they are making an effort to understand how you work).