Boundaries Build More Love and Intimacy in Relationships
Have you ever felt afraid to set boundaries with a friend, boss, client or lover? If you told someone that they did something you would not tolerate, do you fear they would leave? This type of fear shows up in all relationships and causes a division.
Your boss makes you work crazy hours and never promotes you. Your co-worker is the slacker who does less work than you and takes all the credit. The person you are dating doesn’t ask you out on weekends or want to date you exclusively. Your friend talks about you behind your back. Your mother constantly criticizes you but then asks you for a million favors.
If you don’t set boundaries and communicate them, you are actually creating more distance with someone, not keeping them close. When you put up with poor behavior and do not express yourself, you end up resenting the person. You put walls up around you to protect yourself. They may still be in your life but you aren’t really connecting. You are being superficial to them but resenting them under your breath.
Studies in child psychology show that children do best when there are clear boundaries set in the household. When there are no set boundaries, the child feels insecure and gets anxious. Imagine if you don’t keep clear boundaries, how that fear arises within you. You don’t know right from wrong or if you have the right to say something or not. Since you are now the adult in your life, a small part of you feels insecure and doesn’t trust your choices.
Anger is the result when boundaries are not set and communicated. You are angry at them for what they said or did and angry at yourself for not speaking up.
To release the anger, you complain about that person to someone else instead of the person who caused you the problem in the first place. You hide behind gossip with your co-worker and the boss is demonized as the story continues to build and stretches way out of proportion. The more you love and care about the person, the more anger arises inside of you.
Communicating boundaries is the most loving thing you can do for someone. Most people don’t realize they hurt you or that they did something out of line. The majority of people have good intentions. Everyone is trying to do their best and sometimes people act out of their own fear and can hurt you through their ignorance. The only remedy is to communicate openly.
Humans fear communication because it opens us up to share a deeper part of ourselves. The vulnerability of saying that “this isn’t right” or that “you need do stop doing that” is facing the risk of rejection. To avoid rejection, you just complain to others, avoid confrontation and stay stuck. Relationships ends abruptly, friends turn to frenemies and the pattern repeats with other relationships.
We are afraid that if we make waves that they will leave us or hate us. We fear that our voice will not be heard or, worse, we will be laughed at and disrespected. We are still putting that other person above us as more important than our feelings. We resent them and resent ourselves.
Being clear on your own boundaries and communicating them to people in your life is the most loving thing you can do for yourself and for them. Some won’t agree or like the boundaries you set in the relationship but, if they truly care about you, they will respect you and work with you through calm communication.
If they drop away because they refuse to play by your rules, let them go. It is better to have one loyal friend than one hundred that you have to bend over backward to please.
You may worry about making someone feel bad that they hurt you, but it is actually more hurtful to not tell them. You hurt them more with passive aggressive behavior without their ability to defend themselves or share their side of the story.
When you set boundaries with others, they know who you really are. You aren’t being fake-nice, you are being real and authentic. You also give them permission to set their own boundaries. If you let them walk over you, they may think it is okay to let others walk over them. Or, worse, they keep doing what they are doing not realizing they are hurting people. No one wins in that scenario.
Boundaries build intimacy. They are an expression of love and honesty. Trust those who keep their boundaries consistent. Select relationships with people who are open to communicate and don’t run at the first sign of conflict. These will be your deepest friends and trusted allies who will never leave you.
To start creating clear boundaries in your relationships, get clear with yourself first:
- Make a list of things you no longer wish to tolerate in a relationship in personal and professional life.
- Identify the people in your life with whom YOU HAVE ALLOWED to cross those boundaries.
- Accept the responsibility of this situation- you gave them permission because you didn’t clearly communicate with them the boundary.
- Set yourself free by owning your part and clearing up the communication.
- The person will feel closer to you than ever or will drop away. You will then know who the true people are in your life.
Setting boundaries is like saying I love you and I want to keep you in my life, but only if you act with respect. If you step over the line, I love you enough to tell you.