Navigating personal relationships can often be much trickier than even our most difficult courses. When do we draw the line and say “no” and when do we ask for help from our friends? One of the key factors to answering these questions is having a solid understanding of the boundaries that you want in your relationships. Read on to learn about establishing boundaries in your relationships!


by Camara Chea

Establishing boundaries in personal relationships can be tricky, but it is essential to a state of positive well-being. Whether this applies to family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, peers, or even yourself, boundaries are an important stepping stone to better understanding your needs and limits and having healthy relationships with those around you. Here, communication is definitely key. Sometimes, in order to maintain a stable mental state, it may be best to commit to setting certain boundaries. These boundaries may be fluid or static, and they may look different for the various people in your life.

Additionally, your boundaries may need to be communicated in different ways, depending on the person you are talking to (from more indirect to more plainly stated). Perhaps for a family member or friend that engages you in toxic interactions, it may be best to limit your time with them and state clearly what you are comfortable and not comfortable with (e.g. you wish to not be treated poorly, and were this to happen, you will have to take some time to yourself). Or maybe you are in the early stages of a romantic relationship, and you are noticing the other person doing things that are incompatible with your comfort levels. In such instances as these, it may be helpful to respectfully and clearly communicate your boundaries and maintain them as needed.

 Of course, there are a lot of gray areas around setting boundaries, especially when cultural influences, power dynamics, and socioeconomic factors come into play. I understand that it can be challenging. It is also important to remember the distinction between setting boundaries and establishing “controlling” rules. Please try to avoid using boundaries as a way to manipulate or control other people’s daily lives. It’s one thing to voice your feelings and detail potential choices and consequences, and it’s quite another thing to expect your partner to not do a certain thing for unfounded reasons.

 While setting boundaries can be seen as limiting, it can also be viewed as very empowering. Personally, I have seen a positive transformation within myself after establishing and maintaining boundaries with the people in my life. I try to limit my time with people who drain my energy or bring negativity to my life. It can be difficult to be assertive in those moments, especially when it’s with people you care about, but at the end of the day, you have to remember that you are the one and only person living your life.

 For more great tips, check out these two helpful articles:
1) and 2) With that, I wish you the best of luck in cultivating healthy relationships in your life and employing boundary setting as a method to achieving this!