Setting boundaries is important in any relationship, but especially in romantic relationships. Boundaries help keep everything positive while making sure you have a healthy, respectful, and dynamic relationship with your partner. When you both have set and followed boundaries, everyone is happy! 

Here’s the bummer though: setting and negotiating boundaries can be super hard! If you’re not careful, setting boundaries can make you seem controlling or domineering. That’s a big turnoff and totally not the intention of setting boundaries AT ALL. So, it’s important that you do this thing right. 

We’ve tackled setting boundaries with parents and setting boundaries with family, but today we’re focusing on romantic relationships. We’ll give you the DL on how to effectively set boundaries with your S.O., so you’re both feeling good about it. Here are some sure-fire strategies to setting boundaries without being controlling:

How to Set Boundaries in a Relationship Without Being Controlling

How to Set Boundaries in a Relationship Without Being Controlling

Understand the importance and purpose of setting boundaries.

The most important step when setting boundaries of any kind is first understanding why they’re necessary. Boundaries are sometimes mistaken as “rules” within relationships when that’s definitely not the vibe. 

The whole point of setting boundaries is to protect your personal spaces and your physical and mental well-being. Healthy boundaries allow you to form strong and healthy relationships that are built on trust and respect. And that’s what we all want, right? A super healthy and positive partnership—you need boundaries to achieve that. (Here’s more from We Met At Acme on what a healthy relationship looks like.)

Know what you want.

Self-reflection is another important step in setting boundaries in relationships. You should take some time to think about your personal boundaries. Consider what you’re comfortable with in a relationship, and what things would harm your well-being. It’s best to do this on your own, so you know you’re not pressured or influenced by your partner when deciding what’s good with you. 

For some valuable encouragement and insight on creating boundaries, listen to this episode of Him and Her. And for tips on how to trust your intuition when setting boundaries, check out this episode of The Papaya Podcast. Yes, as usual, our Dear Media hosts have the BEST advice!!!

Communicate your boundaries appropriately.

Good communication is super important to setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. Actually, it’s important for a healthy relationship PERIOD! Be as compassionate and respectful as possible when you talk to your partner, especially during important conversations. 

Another great tip for effectively communicating with your partner is to use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. “I need ___ because ___” is easier for your partner to take than “You need to ___ because ___.” The second statement can make them feel attacked and cause them to become defensive. We don’t want that! Here’s more from Kenzie Elizbeth from House Guest on healthy communication in a relationship

How to Set Boundaries in a Relationship Without Being Controlling

Listen to your partner’s needs. 

Setting boundaries in a healthy relationship should involve having a conversation with your partner. As you communicate what you need from your partner, give them time to do the same. Ask for honest feedback and listen to how they feel about the boundaries you want to set. 

This leads to the next tip, which is…

Be willing to compromise on some things.

Sure, it would be amazing if your partner simply accepted your boundaries and respected them without issue. But, it doesn’t always work that way. In these instances, it’s important to be open to compromise.

There will be some boundaries with very little to no wiggle room, like cheating. OF COURSE be firm on these boundaries. But, for other boundaries, there might be an opportunity for you to meet your partner halfway, i.e. how often you spend one-on-one time together. It’s a good idea to decide where you’re willing to compromise before you even have a convo with your S.O., because then you know the choice is actually yours and you’re not being pressured! 

Avoid threats or ultimatums.

Although this falls under proper communication, it’s worth mentioning on its own. A lot of couples make the mistake of using threats or ultimatums to try to ensure their needs are met. Unfortunately, this tactic does more harm than good. 

Think about it… no one likes to feel threatened. Avoid using lines like “if you don’t ___ then we’re done” and focus instead on the benefits of establishing and respecting boundaries within your relationship.

…but also know your deal breakers.

Okay, listen… some lines just can’t be crossed. Some deal breakers are pretty obvious; any kind of physical or emotional abuse needs to be an immediate deal breaker. Other kinds of behavior might not be as clear-cut. 

It’s important to know what YOUR deal breakers are and to stand by them. As you discuss your boundaries with your partner, be clear about your deal breakers. If your partner can’t respect them or even tries to convince you to change your stance, that’s a red flag that you shouldn’t ignore. 

Use these tips to help you set healthy boundaries in your relationship.

Just in case you need a reminder, you deserve to be happy in a healthy relationship with someone who genuinely cares about your well-being. Establishing healthy boundaries is an important part of that, but you want to make sure you go about it the right way, so you don’t come off as controlling. These tips can help you do just that!

For more tips on setting boundaries, check out our post on how to set boundaries with a narcissist. Then head over to the Dear Media blog for even more insightful and entertaining content! And, if you need all the reminders to respect yourself and your limits, grab this Boundaries crewneck from The Bad Broadcast. It’s one of our faves!

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