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How To Set Boundaries With Your Boyfriend

In any romantic relationship, we often think of having to set boundaries as a bad thing. Isn’t our partner meant to understand us and our needs? Will setting boundaries kill the romantic side of our relationship?

In romantic relationships boundaries are very important, in fact, they are essential in any healthy relationship. Boundaries come hand in hand with respect. If you want to set boundaries with your boyfriend, here is how…

#1 Setting boundaries creates mutual respect and consideration

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These qualities allow people to be close without emotional harm. Boundaries are breached by such actions as: Reading personal mail or rummaging in personal space or demanding time, affection or consideration without considering the other person's wishes or feelings. Showing up unannounced is another classic breach of boundaries.

Expecting someone to always pay for things. Talking behind backs, changing appointments because something more fun came up. Boundaries can be set with grace and gentility. Be polite, and say please and thank you You probably will lose your boyfriend if you make big, obnoxious announcements about how you want to be treated. Instead, set an example by speaking up at the moment -- saying no, thank you or I'm sorry, I don't really like that when you need to. Anyone can be subjected to rudeness and inconsideration.

How you handle it determines whether you are setting boundaries or not. Most situations can be handled with polite firmness. People pleasers usually just don't know how to say no, thank you and make it stick. If you say no, thank you several times, then, gently tell the person you don't like what they're doing, that it makes you uncomfortable, and they still don't get it, then you need to sit them down and tell them you will not allow them to do that to you.

For example, if a boyfriend borrows money or lets you pay for food all the time, you can say, gently, I think it's your turn to buy groceries today or I really need you to pay back the money you borrowed If that doesn't work, then have a talk -- say, I think you're taking advantage of me financially, and I can't be your girlfriend if the situation doesn't improve.

So, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to lunch with you any more unless you buy, and/or I'm not lending you any money. If that doesn't improve matters, then you'll need to give that person a time out -- withdraw from personal contact, and just be very polite when you do happen to see him or her. He or she will get the message loud and clear. Perhaps your boyfriend will ask Are you mad at me? and then you can describe what the problem is.

Contributors: Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today

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#2 Communicate

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Discuss your boundaries with your partner. Your boundaries may change, or you might find some that you didn't even know you had. That's ok! The sign of a healthy relationship is being able to express changes when you need to. This doesn't mean it won't be difficult, sometimes setting boundaries can be awkward, especially if your partner is sensitive. Ultimately, though, they can make your relationship stronger when you feel heard and supported.

Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

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#3 Compromise

Be ready to compromise. When you come to set your boundaries, don't be surprised if he has a few of his own. You may be opening a can of worms that neither one of you was willing to discuss...until you do. Listen to what he has to say, you both need to feel safe and supported to find the balance that works for both of you. 

Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

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#4 Reflect

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Take a good hard look at yourself. Sometimes we put boundaries up for a reason. Try and learn the difference between a healthy boundary and an unhealthy one. For instance, is he getting in your space or is there a deeper issue? Make sure that you know where you stand in terms of intimacy before drawing your red lines.

Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

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#5 Leave the Mind Reading to the Psychics

We've all been in a relationship where we get lost in our thoughts and feelings about that person. Sometimes we really want a relationship and like the person we are dating so we may not tell your partner what you need or want from that person early on in the relationship. Since the relationship changes (and hopefully evolves and you two grow closer) your boundaries may change too.

For example, your partner doesn't call you when he is on a business trip. That may be okay at the start of a relationship, but as intimacy grows the behaviours may need to change in order for the relationship to flourish. It comes down to expectations and boundaries. Healthy relationships involve boundaries. Ideally, boundaries are discussed upfront, but if that isn't possible then tell your partner at the first opportunity.

Communication skills are needed if a couple is going to talk about their expectations for the relationship. An easy way to communicate your expectation is, I feel_______ when you______. That will allow for clear communication as you share your feelings. Boundaries change, so be patient with your partner but communicate your expectations to your partner and leave the mind reading for the psychic.

Contributors: Gabrielle Freire from Gabrielle Freire Therapy

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#6 Setting boundaries is healthy and reinforces your value

How a couple communicates is a very important indicator that reveals how successful a relationship will be and the relationship's longevity. Setting boundaries and clearly articulating rules create a calm, rational, positive, and loving environment for both partners to exist. It reinforces a sense of a long-term teamwork that leads to healthy and happy relationships. It gives both partners in a relationship the rules for relationship happiness, and it creates a playbook to keep each other happy and emotionally secure.

In addition, setting boundaries - what you will and won't tolerate - indirectly communicates what you believe to be most important and demonstrates your understanding of your own value. For example, if loyalty is an important value to you, you must clearly communicate that cheating will have a particular set of consequences and, as such, you want certain discussions to happen before any cheating occurs.

Contributors: Anna Gonowon from Exboyfriendrecovery

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