A Deep Dive Into Personal Boundaries. Part 3: Setting Boundaries With Your Partner.
Last week I covered ‘Setting Boundaries With Family And Friends’, today is the third and final part in this Personal Boundaries series.
Part 3.) Setting Boundaries With Your Partner:
Like all relationships, how you set the tone in the beginning of the relationship, is generally how you will be treated as time goes by.
For Example: When you first start dating, if you jump every time your partner calls you, chances are, you will always be a doormat in the relationship. Or, if you cave in and let your partner get their own way all the time in the early stages of the relationship, you can bet they will always push, nag, or cause an argument until they get their own way.
Due to this, it is ideal to set boundaries in the beginning of the relationship:
- Don’t answer the phone every time they call. You don’t want them to expect you to always be available for them. Same goes with text messages – don’t reply straight away all the time. Life gets busy as time moves on and you can’t always have your phone by your side.
- Don’t always be available to go on a date. Being at their beck and call is a sure way to become a doormat. Let them know you already have plans with friends, but you’d be happy to catch up another time. This not only lets them know you are not a doormat, but also lets them know you value your friends.
- If they sulk after your first argument, don’t pander to them. Completely ignore this childish behaviour, it’s only an attempt to gain attention and make you accept the blame. Once they’ve stopped sulking, then have a mature conversation about the fight and apologise if you have something to apologise for.
- If your partner speaks to you in a disrespectful manner, call them out on it straight away. If they continue to do this, get up and leave (if they are at your house, ask them to leave). Tell them to only contact you once they are ready to treat you with respect. If they can’t do that, they probably aren’t worthy of you – you’d be best to find someone who is!
Now, some of you who are already in a relationship may be thinking “I recognise some of these behaviours from my partner, but the pattern is already formed – it’s too late”. That’s not necessarily true, you can implement boundaries into a well established relationship. But, I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot harder, and it takes strength and consistency.
It’s natural for your partner to become aggressive or defensive when you first start to introduce some boundaries. You will feel great resistance from them, they are
so used to things being their way. They may even accuse you of ‘becoming a different person’ of which you are.
You are finally starting to see that you are worthy of so much more – well done! It’s a beautiful place to get to after a lifetime of being mistreated.
When you feel this resistance from your partner, you will feel the urge to give in and drop your boundaries – DON’T! This is where you need to stand firm, it takes time to create a new pattern and this can only occur through repetition.
Let me give you an example of how I broke the pattern of my dog barking every time someone walked past my house: this barking had been going on for five years, telling her off stoped her barking at the time, but it didn’t break the recurring pattern.
Her barking was becoming increasingly worse, and was driving me bonkers! Something had to change, and that something had to be how I handled the situation. I decided to pick a new tactic and stick to it.
Every time she barked I would say no barking, then I would pick her up and lock her in the bathroom as I repeated the words ‘no barking’. Once she had calmed down I would open the door and tell her she was a good girl.
The first day I tried this it seemed to be working pretty quickly, the naughty room was having a positive affect on her. I thought “oh wow, how easy was that!”. The second day however, was disastrous. The resistance was kicking in, I think I put her in the bathroom fifteen to twenty times that day, and each time, she continued to bark for quite a while.
I decided to completely ignore her, and I only let her out once she stopped barking.
I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give in. I truly felt like it was not working, but I decided to remain strong. On the third day she still had some resistance, but I was starting to see some improvement. I knew more than ever I had to stand firm. By the fourth day, she didn’t bark at all until the afternoon, and once again she was carried to the naughty room.
Now she hardly barks at all, and when she does I repeat the same process. Through repetition, I created a new pattern.
The same firmness needs to apply when setting new boundaries in an established relationship. You will go through ups and downs, and come up against strong resistance, but in order for the new pattern to take root, your partner needs to know you are serious. The only way for them to know just how serious you are, is to show unwavering repetition.
When you are having moments of weakness (and you will), it’s best to remind yourself that this is short-term pain for long-term gain.
All of this, of course, should only apply if your partner is worthy of you, they must ultimately be a good person that has just become accustomed to a bad pattern (that was created from you not implementing boundaries in the beginning of the relationship).
If your partner is treating you badly in multiple areas and will not respect your new found boundaries, then please, value yourself for the beautiful, worthy person that you are, and kick them to the curb! When we start to stand up for ourselves – the Universe listens!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this three-part series! Personal boundaries are the backbone of any successful relationship. Without them we not only dishonour ourselves but those around us.