The importance of creating and maintaining boundaries in a relationship—romantic or otherwise

Photo by Darien Funk

It’s time to be brutally honest. Have you ever: taken on more club responsibilities than you could handle; gave out unsolicited advice because some people just need to be helped; or been afraid to say anything other than “yes”? 

As someone who also struggles with navigating boundaries in any relationship, there have been some realizations along the way that are worth sharing.

How much do you value yourself?

Your thoughts, emotions, and time are all valuable.

It’s okay that the majority of your time consists of activities that work towards your future! Sometimes people won’t understand the time you’re taking into curating it, but that’s more reflective of their lack of empathy than the importance of your tasks. 

When you comfort a friend, spend time crafting an essay, or even take a shower, it all comes down to recognizing that these are all worth your time! You’re allowing it to take up your time, effort, and emotions, which is no small thing.

If you create absolutely no space for your own desires and needs, it exposes how much you value yourself.

How healthy are your relationships, really?

If our boundaries are non-existent with a certain person, it shows the lack of health in that relationship. How can we really be ourselves if we’re not able to say how we feel or voice our opinions? 

Often when we meet someone for the first time we tread the waters lightly, avoiding topics we can be a little too opinionated on. On the flip side, if my dad asks me to watch an economics video because it’s just so interesting, I’m comfortable enough to tell him that I’d literally rather do anything else. 

The difference is the comfortability and strength of my relationship with a person. When we’re able to turn down tasks and speak genuinely, it creates an environment where we can establish boundaries that will only improve our connection with others.

Is this something you should take on?

Someone tell me why every single time the holiday season comes around, my fully-grown, married-for-20-years, aunt and uncle treat me like I’m their marriage counsellor? 

There are clear boundaries when it comes to the family too! Some things just aren’t meant for our ears to be heard, period, and we can be wedged into something we were never meant to be involved in. Big apologies to these people, but some things are just way out of a person’s expertise and responsibilities.

Creating these boundaries for what you should and shouldn’t discuss lets people know what’s appropriate to talk about or not. These clearly -drawn lines lets others know what they can talk to you about and involve you in.

Deciding what should or shouldn’t be on your plate will free up time, emotions, and energy.

What are my priorities?

I’m really good at people-pleasing. If it sounds like a brag, trust me, it’s not. It’s more of a confession and a reminder to myself to get it together. It’s important to take notice of our daily tasks and the reasoning behind them. This made me wrestle with my tendency of people-pleasing rather than living out my own life.

How we spend our time sheds a light on our priorities. Like cramming for school, it’s easy to stay in that study groove and forget about everything else, but in an unhealthy manner.

If I have an unhealthy practice of prioritizing school over spending time with friends, family etc., it will carry on into the next part of my life once I graduate and get a job. These priorities and habits are something so ingrained in me that I have to remember to keep them in check. 

Balancing priorities is something that needs to be dealt with now rather than later after it becomes so internalized. It’s important to observe what takes up most of our time and what boundaries we can put into place to create a life of our own.

What you need to remember is that boundaries are important for all the relationships in your life: romantic, familial, friendships, and with yourself too! It’s tough navigating boundaries at any age, and during any season of life, so take it easy! There’s always room to grow.

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