You’ve probably heard the term “relationship boundaries” before, and it may sound negative — like you’re shutting others out of your life. But that’s not at all the goal or the outcome of establishing healthy boundaries. In fact, healthy boundaries are personal limits people set to take care of themselves and protect their wellbeing.
Healthy boundaries can actually enhance the quality of relationships. Setting and sticking to healthy boundaries allows people to practice self-respect, which helps them enjoy more fulfilling relationships of all kinds.
Our psychotherapy team at Psychology Beverly Hills specializes in relationship counseling for individuals, couples, and families. Relationships are oftentimes complex, and therapy can help you navigate both setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.
Why relationship boundaries matter
All relationships have boundaries, whether you acknowledge them or not. Romantic, platonic, familial, and professional relationships all consist of people interacting with each other, and boundaries are at play in every interaction.
Generally speaking, relationship boundaries fall into three categories: rigid, open, and healthy. Your boundaries influence almost every aspect of a relationship, from physical touch and sexual intimacy to emotions and finances.
Rigid boundaries can keep you distanced and detached from other people. Open boundaries are often overly flexible and can get you too involved in other peoples’ lives or make you compromise your own wants, needs, or values for others.
Healthy boundaries are somewhere in the middle. When you set healthy boundaries, you learn to protect your own wants and needs and respect the wants and needs of others in a way that fosters healthier relationships. With healthy boundaries, everyone in the relationship can learn how to compromise and get what they need from it.
How to set healthy boundaries in your relationships
Setting boundaries is important, but it can be challenging — especially if the relationship you’re working on had rigid or open boundaries in the past. It is possible though, and our psychologists can help.
In relationship counseling, we work with you to learn how to set healthy boundaries. Here are some ways to get started.
1. Respect yourself and others
Healthy boundaries start with respect. Practicing self-respect means valuing yourself, your needs, and your wants. Don’t compromise your personal values or beliefs simply to make others happy.
In the same way, be respectful of others and don’t expect them to compromise their values for you.
2. Say and accept “no”
“No” is a powerful word, and many people feel uncomfortable both saying it and hearing it from others. Learning to say no allows you to protect your mental space and prioritize the things that are important to you. Accepting no from others helps you respect their personal boundaries as well.
As you get more comfortable saying no, feel free to share an honest reason why. If someone says no to you, recognize that in most cases, it’s not necessarily personal.
3. Communicate clearly
Clear communication is essential in healthy relationships. In talk therapy, we help you identify your values, needs, and wants, and teach you tools to effectively communicate them with others.
Along with expressing your needs clearly, you can learn to identify and respect the values, needs, and wants of other people. Establishing boundaries can also improve your conflict resolution skills and help you resolve disagreements in healthy ways.
Every relationship is different, and that means your boundaries in every relationship may look different, too. We may recommend different types of psychotherapy based on your needs, such as mentalization based therapy (MBT) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Together, we take time to understand your relationships, help you develop your sense of self, and apply practical tools to establish and maintain healthier boundaries. Contact us online or call the office at 424-331-1570 to schedule your first session.