Hello, my zebras and spoonies! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today. I’m glad that you’re here. So today, let’s talk about boundaries and relationships some more.
The first thing is that it’s absolutely essential to understand is that love equals respect. Doesn’t matter what type of relationship that we’re talking about, if it’s going to be a good, healthy relationship, it is going to be one that is founded upon and centers around, mutual respect. That means that both people’s needs matter equally, and that both parties are going to work for both people’s needs to be met at all times. And that doesn’t mean that there’s going to be times that one person has bigger needs than the other, and that there’s going to be times where one has bigger support needs than the other and that that dynamic doesn’t shift back and forth but that the overall arc is going to be that both people’s needs are being met, equally. It really comes down to respect and respect is really about boundaries and having boundaries in relationships.
I think that one of the things that is kind of misunderstood about boundaries is that people often avoid setting boundaries, because they don’t want to have conflict with others, when the reality is that setting boundaries, actually will decrease the amount of conflict that we have others because it will set clear expectations in your relationship, and then the people in your lives will know what is expected of them and they will know how to best be respectful and how to support you. When things are left unsaid and when things are left gray, people just kind of guess and hope then muddle through, and it really, inevitably leads to people crossing each other’s boundaries, without realizing that’s what they’ve done and then it leads to a lot of conflict, and often conflict that goes unaddressed, where one person will cross the boundary of another person, and then you’ll have this frustration and anger response, and the person who did the boundary crossing might not even understand or realize why you’re angry but they’re seeing that you are, and now you’re in a position where you’re not really sure how to talk to them about it because you’re in this state of anger but you haven’t set this boundary before so how do you tell them hey dude, don’t do this, you were wrong. Well, they weren’t wrong because you never said don’t do this so it gets complicated and messy. When we set boundaries we draw very clear lines, and it makes our relationships easier to navigate with each other so while it can be uncomfortable to have these conversations, drawing boundaries with each other will actually lead to reduced conflicts overall in our relationships, so don’t avoid drawing boundaries for the purposes of reducing conflict because it’s not going to work.
Drawing boundaries can help eliminate feelings of resentment because we’re going to avoid that unintentional boundary crossing and these every day repeated slights that are going unaddressed. By having these conversations with each other, we’re going to address the feelings, and that anger, so that you don’t get to the point where you’re resentful and then really terribly if that resentfulness is allowed to go on, it will cook up and eventually lead to hate.
Setting boundaries really does promote closeness and relationships. It allows people to feel safe and comfortable in their relationships which allows people to open up more and be more vulnerable, which allows for closeness, but if we don’t have a sense of safety, then we’re not going to be willing to take the risk of vulnerability. So if you want to be close with somebody, boundaries are super helpful in achieving closeness.
We’ve talked about boundaries a lot, but it’s just kind of vague idea. What are boundaries and what do they look like and what do you do with them? There’s boundaries surround a lot of things.
Boundaries are, for all types of relationships parent child relationships, friendships, whether they’re your spouse or you’re dating, doesn’t matter, boundaries, exist in all relationships and all types of relationships are built off of mutual respect and mutual respect is built very well when both parties are expressing where their boundaries are and having discussions about what makes them feel safe and comfortable in that type of relationship, and some things to know about relationships that I think that we kind of already know but we don’t generally talk about is that different types of relationships are going to have different types of boundaries. You’re gonna have a different type of boundary with a spouse, then you’re going to have with the child and then you’re going to have with your sibling and then you’re going to have with a friend. All of those boundaries are going to look different, and that’s okay.
It’s also completely normal and acceptable for boundaries to change over time. I mean if you consider your child at five versus 25 your boundaries with that child is going to be different because in one context they’re your child, and they’re a child, and in the other context they’re your child but they’re now an adult. So your boundaries with this individual are absolutely going to change over the course of that 25 year relationship. But this is also true over the course of a marriage, over the course of years with your siblings, over the course of years where the friendship boundaries change over time because we as humans change over time. So it’s okay that our boundaries change, it’s just essential that we communicate with each other when our boundaries change.
Sometimes boundaries surprise us. We don’t know that something’s going to upset us or going to make us feel uncomfortable and unsafe, until we experience it, and that’s okay too. We just need to then put on the brakes and say whoa I don’t feel comfortable with this, I don’t feel okay. And that’s setting that boundary and that’s a safe, appropriate and good way to handle this surprise. There’s always going to be that first time you experience the thing. And now that you know that this thing is a problem you just communicate that.
There are different types of boundaries. Physical boundaries are: who gets to hug you? who gets to sit next to you? And also when do you show affection in public? Do you show it only in private? Do they have to ask for permission every time, or can they make it more of a quiet request? There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions. It is about what you as an individual, are comfortable and feel safe with, and you just need to make these rules clear with the people that are in your lives. So physical boundaries are definitely one very clear place that we all need to set boundaries and I think that one boundary that needs to exist in all relationships is that you should never have physical violence in any relationship so that’s one physical boundary that should exist in every relationship. Violence is never okay in a relationship ever, ever, ever, ever. It is never okay.
Another type of boundaries is having emotional boundaries. And this is where you will talk about the way that you feel, and you know how you engage and show your feelings with other people. So if you’re feeling guilty, ashamed, upset, or undervalued, this is probably a time where boundaries are going to be needed in that relationship. It’s the time that something’s going on where you’re being encroached upon, that you’re being asked to do things that you don’t feel like you should be or you’re don’t feel like things are fair etc. so when you’re feeling these emotions, pause and consider where these emotions are coming from, because sometimes these emotions are self generated. Sometimes we feel guilt because of baggage that we carry around from our past and the same thing with shame and anger and self esteem issues and it really isn’t about what’s going on and sometimes this stuff is things that we have to work through. And we don’t necessarily need a boundary, but it might be something that we need a boundary for while we work through it. Could be a boundary that you need for right now, but then in a year or two, you’re we’ve worked through that and it’s not a boundary you need any more. Yay! Good job for working through the stuff. But so emotional boundaries are, what you’re comfortable with in how people talk to you and how they engage with you. If you have a disagreement, is it okay to yell? Is it okay to name call? Is it okay to throw things? You know, I would say no to all these personally, I’m a huge advocate for deferred violence being bad, but, you know, we’re getting into some gray area here and there’s some wiggle room as to where this might not be abusive behavior but it is a slippery slope.
Then there are other things with emotional boundaries like: are you comfortable with surprises? because this is one of my emotional boundaries that my family often did not understand or respect when I was a kid. I am a planner, and I need to prepare for events, I have a real difficult time switching from one task to another. Transitions are difficult for me. So when you surprise me with something, it demands that I immediately make a transition, and that’s really hard and it’s very stressful and anxiety provoking, even if whatever you’re surprising me with is a good thing. And even if what you’re surprising me with is a very simple small thing, like say, I’m working on a blog and you come and ask me a nursing question, I’m going to grind intellectual gears while I shift over to change tasks. And it’s just part of how my brain works, so I have this boundary of don’t plan me surprise birthday parties, don’t surprise me with presents. Don’t. Don’t do the whole surprise thing. I am not comfortable with those things; they are not positive things in my life. So that’s an emotional boundary that I set with people in my relationships because it’s something that makes me feel uncomfortable, because of the way that my brain works. And knowing these things about yourself is what’s going to help you know where your boundaries need to be, because there’s really nothing wrong with surprises I mean other people enjoy surprises. Lots of people think that surprise parties are amazing. And, you know, if that’s your thing, you rock it. I’m not judging, but it’s not for me, and respectful relationships mean that people are going to respect that it’s not for me, and understand that I don’t want surprises.
Another type of boundary is related to our sexuality. So, we need to be clear about our expectations around physical intimacy, and whether or not we are talking about a spouse, somebody we’re dating or someone we’re having a casual relationship with. It doesn’t matter. We still need to have very clear boundaries and make our expectations clear and we need to make sure that whoever our potential partners are know what we consider to be safe, and some boundaries that we need to set could be around like frequency expectations, sexual conversation or comments (is it okay to talk about sex, like in general conversation?) Is it okay to have sexual touch? All of these things are things that need to be drawn as your boundaries and your lines, and even going further as far as if there are things that are off limits like many of us have things that we’re just like, “nope, I won’t go in there,” and that’s okay. But we should make those boundaries of the “hard nope, nopes!” clear to our partners, they should know about that. We should be clear in where our boundaries and what our comfort zone is. And this is especially important if you have any kind of trauma history.
We should have boundaries around intellect. So this really is about ideas and belief and showing respect for differences in views and ideas. You know when you’re in a relationship you’re not always going to have the same political views, you’re not always going to agree on social events. I mean, right now, with COVID being what it is it’s this huge hot debate and everything about whether or not you should wear masks and take the COVID vaccination and social distancing, you know, you’re bound to have friends who are on the opposite side of the opinion as you and boundaries is about how do you respect this person that you care about who has a difference of opinion? And how do you have respectful conversations with each other? When people have different views and ideas than you do. Because you can have different political stances, different religions, all of those things and still have good healthy relationships, because you can still have respect, even if you don’t share all the same ideas and beliefs, because it’s about respect, and sometimes that just means this isn’t a thing that we’re going to talk about. I have some friends that I can’t talk about politics with because our viewpoints are very opposing, and I get very heated and passionate about some of these areas, and I can’t stay as respectful as I should be with my friends. So one of the boundaries that I draw is that, you know, with some people I don’t talk about the these things. I don’t talk about religion and I don’t talk about politics, it’s definitely something I don’t talk about at work. And that’s because I know where my shortcomings are as an individual and those are important things to know about yourself.
Intellectual boundaries are super important because everybody’s entitled to their own ideas, opinions, beliefs, also along with this is that we should be treating people with respect, regardless of their what their intellectual capacity is, it shouldn’t matter what your IQ is you shouldn’t be treating somebody as if they have less value, because they have less IQ than you do and this is also part of intellectual boundaries and respect.
So then the other big boundary that I would like to talk about is financial boundaries. In a marriage, that’ll be like, are you sharing accounts, or having separate accounts and how are you spending your money and who’s paying what bills and what’s going to savings and what bills do you pay and when do you save, but financial boundaries exist between siblings and friends and with your children too. Do you loan money to friends? There’s no right or wrong answer here, again it’s just a boundary issue. Same thing with your family. So it’s just important thing for you to know what you’re comfortable with, and what works for you and to make those expectations clear.
So, hopefully some of these ideas have made things a little bit more clear about what boundaries are and how they work and why they’re important, and why they would make relationships work better. I can give a lot of examples as to how these different boundaries work, but I feel like I’ve prattled on long enough about it. So hopefully I’ve said something useful.
But thank you for coming and visiting, and until we hang out again, please stay healthy, safe and have good boundaries and good relationships, and you all take care of yourselves.