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Establishing Boundaries in Relationships: How to Do It

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  • Establishing Boundaries in Relationships: How to Do It

    It's always easy to spot a relationship that has no boundaries. Often they come in the form of late-night phone calls (just as you're about to fall asleep), repeated one-sided conversations and you're constantly dodging questions you don't want to answer.

    Such a relationship may exist with your boss (who thinks it's OK to call about work on Sunday morning), your parents (who still want to know why you've decided not to have children) or even your spouse (who barges in every time you're in the bathroom).

    Of course, not every relationship needs to have set boundaries, particularly when both parties are respectful of the other. In this case, the boundaries are still there, they are just unspoken.

    “It is not necessary to have boundaries anywhere since they are all made up,” points out Hale Dwoskin, CEO and director of Sedona Training Associates. “However, it is helpful to create the appearance of boundaries in relationships so you can simply feel safe being yourself with your partner without having to worry about either of you overstepping these imaginary walls.”

    The Important Steps to Setting Boundaries

    After you’ve assessed your relationships and identified those that are clearly making you uncomfortable, take these steps to (gently) establish boundaries:

    1. Identify your boundaries. Do you want your mother-in-law to stop scrutinizing what you eat? Is it unacceptable for your friends to come over without calling first? Come to terms with what your limits are, and write them down if need be.
    2. Let go of any guilt you’re feeling. You’re doing nothing wrong by setting boundaries. In fact, you may be saving the relationship.
    3. Share your boundaries with your friend/relative/spouse. You can start out on a positive note by saying how much you honor your relationship, and because of that need to share something that is on your mind. Tell them exactly what boundary they are crossing and WHY it is not OK to cross it (“Saturdays are the only day I get to sleep in, so I don’t like getting calls before 9”).
    4. “The more specific you are and the less you rely on them figuring it out the more likely you are to find that you both honor what is best for each other,” Dwoskin says.
    5. Explain what will happen if your boundaries are not honored. Give a bit of time for the changes to set in, but do explain that if your boundaries keep being overstepped, you may not continue forward with the relationship.

    “Also, remember as you set boundaries that they are not real and because they are not real they can and will change,” Dwoskin says. “That being said, it is very helpful to let your partner know what is acceptable and desirable for you at this time in all the major parts of relating.”

    'Remember to release on your boundaries or rules in relationships so that you can fully show up in this moment and have a full rich rewarding relationship now,' he continues.

  • #2
    hi, just wondering how I might release on boundaries or rules in relationships, as Hale suggests in his last line here. Thanks :-)


    • #3
      Hi LizzieD!

      What Hale is saying is to release on whatever comes up around issues of boundaries using any of the processes that resonate with you in any given moment. So if the wants resonate then release on them. If holistic releasing touches on what you are wrestling with then use that process. If the likes/dislikes process feels more on point go there. And if triple welcoming feels right they work with that. There are many different ways to release on any topic and this topic is no different.



      • #4
        Th as no you, Dalilah, but I still have the same question that LizzieD asked. What does it mean- to "release on boundaries"? Could somebody give a sample?
        Thank you


        • #5
          Sorry, wanted to write thank you, Dalilah


          • #6
            Hi illa!

            This post is about rules, also known as boundaries, that we have for relationships. Everyone has specific requirements for relationships with others.

            Some Examples of Rules:
            - No emotional or physical abuse
            -Shows up for meetings/dates on time
            -Respects my choices
            -Doesn't require that we talk on the phone everyday
            -Wants to a have monogamous relationship or Is OK with just being friends
            - etc. etc. etc.

            Notice what thoughts and feelings come up when reading the above list. You may have more or different rules or boundaries so clarify what those boundaries/rules are for yourself and then re-read my previous reply. If you are not clear about my previous reply then have a look at TSM book and read more about ALL the ways we can release on anything and apply them to this topic. Release until you are comfortable enough in setting these boundaries or rules with others so that you are able to stand by them and honor yourself and your needs in any relationship. Relationships are more likely to be successful when we have clear boundaries/rules and are able to stand by them. If someone isn't able to abide by those boundaries/rules then we are able to either walk away or limit contact with that person.

            Let us know how this unfolds for you once you consider this more fully,


            • #7
              Thank you, Delilah. I only now saw this. I will think about this. But have another question. What if other partner does not want to stand by rules and you can not walk away? That's it then? You are stuck in those relationships and can not be free in this life?