If you have no boundaries, forget about succeeding in relationships

No two people will see eye to eye on everything all the time. The intellectual boundary dictates that you agree to disagree while respecting each other’s opinions.   

What you need to know:

Do not expect people to read your mind. Talk about your boundaries early enough and repeatedly with your partner or coworkers. They will save you heartaches and pains of unnecessary confrontations

A friend asked me recently if it was okay for her boyfriend to have access to her phone and her private conversations. If you have known Dorcus (not her real name) for any amount of time, you will know that she likes her phone so much. She is so private about it.

Another friend (call him John), works for an employer who has no limits on the time they should work or the workload they should carry. He is made to do everything and anything in the name of teamwork. This leads me to discuss healthy boundaries in relationships. 

What are boundaries in relationships? These are clear lines in a relationship that define the extent to which a partner, worker, friend or relative can engage with the other. In other words, it is the extent to which you can engage with another person in a relationship space without violating them or their property. 

People tend to think that close relationships especially, marriage, should not have boundaries after all, two become one. A good relationship should never dissolve your individuality, but rather enhance it for the mutual complementarity benefit of the relationship. This means you can be you and express love and be loved at the same time. These should not be mutually exclusive.

Creating boundaries is good for our mental and emotional well-being. They allow us to function with independence and creativity.  

Intellectual/mental boundaries

 These relate to your opinions, thoughts, and values. In any relationship, there will be disagreements because no two people will see eye to eye on everything all the time. The intellectual boundary will dictate that you agree to disagree while respecting each other’s opinions.  

Emotional boundaries

 This boundary allows partners to process and manage their emotions individually. Men usually run to their caves preferring no interruption, while women prefer to talk and  want a listening ear.  In some of these instances, unless you are the cause, you are not responsible for all your partner’s emotions or moods and these should not be dependent on you. Emotional maturity requires that you manage your emotions without taking them on others around you.

Financial boundaries

 This boundary concerns money in relationships. What are you willing to spend on? You ought to make it clear to yourself and others what you can manage financially without feeling drained or distressed. For instance, some associations have high demands for financial contributions that come almost all the time; they are going out today, contributing for a borehole tomorrow and you are expected to support them. Will you go with them or place boundaries on how much you to spend? Some members lend and borrow from each other, which can be calamitous for relationships in the long run, when some members fail to pay. 

Physical boundaries

This boundary determines how physical one can go in relationships whether at work or marriage or in normal friendships. Some cultures are comfortable with hugs and pecks, others respect distance, others handshakes. But in all, it is important to define your boundaries and how you want them to be respected.   

Sexual boundaries

 As an individual, you need to set your boundary to separate your personal life from your professional life. You do not want to mix work with personal pleasure. Sexual boundaries can also apply in marriage; say when one partner is not feeling well physically and communicates their need for a boundary to the other. When this boundary is not respected, there will be rape in marriage. 

Communicate your boundaries

 Do not expect people to read your mind. Talk about your boundaries early enough and repeatedly with your partner at the beginning of the relationship or coworkers at the beginning of your assignment. Do not ignore these conversations. They will save you heartaches and the pains of unnecessary confrontations.

Learn to say no

 If you are in an abusive, manipulative relationship whether at work or in marriage or friendship, train yourself to say “No”. Resist the urge to make excuses for having boundaries. Get used to saying no and feel no offense about it. “If someone gets mad at you for creating a boundary, consider it a good sign that the boundary was necessary,” (Jenna Korf). “No” strengthens your resolve against coworkers, who may want to load their share of work on you and spouses who may want to take you for granted.

Take time off

 You can create boundaries by knowing the volume of your workload and how long it takes you to accomplish it and then taking time off from work after you have done it. You may also want to take a break from some relationships and even family because these can suck a lot of energy that leaves you depleted and unable to function properly. Switch off the phone and go away with the girls or boys and have yourself a good time. It is not selfish; it is self-care. Me-time invigorates your energies and further communicates to others that you value your boundaries.   


 Some people suffer from low self-esteem and co-dependency so much that they tolerate their boundaries being violated in the name of maintaining a relationship. Sometimes the healthy way to handle such unhealthy relationships is to quit. I have counselled people who “discover” themselves after they have quit a relationship. They suddenly realise they had been violated that they lost touch with who they are as unique individuals.


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