Guidelines for Sustaining Healthy Relationships

In any relationship, whether it is with a romantic partner, relatives, parents, friends, co-workers, or other people in life, it is essential to maintain healthy boundaries with them. Most of us struggle with keeping boundaries in different relationships because of fear, insecurities, cultural norms, gender roles, overly agreeableness, and wanting to please others. In many cases, this leads to emotional and mental distress. A relationship without boundaries depicts an unhealthy connection, which affects the way you look at yourself and your overall well-being.

 What is a healthy boundary?

A healthy boundary in any relationship is a respectful space between you and others to show yours and others autonomy. Setting boundaries helps you set expectations within your limitations while interacting with others, ensuring your physical and emotional comfort.

Unhealthy boundaries

The two extremes of not having a boundary are rigidity and being overly flexible. Both extremes can harm the relationship. The health boundary is a balance of both extremes.

A rigid boundary can make an individual very distant from one another, and often the person ends up pushing everyone who comes their way, even the ones who genuinely care and love them.

Overly flexible is a weak boundary set by individuals who find it difficult to prioritize themselves and say no to others. They might be willing to go to any extreme to please others and take on responsibilities that they are not obligated to take.

How to set a healthy boundary in all your relationships

In any relationship, in the early stages, set your boundaries with others. Establish and communicate your limitations so that it can help the other person be aware of his or her expectations from you. In many situations, we never realize that restrictions are essential. Gradually, in the later stages, we realize this because of feeling overly controlled, taken for granted, distress, or mental health issues.

Here are a few steps that can help you establish boundaries:

Self-reflection: Know what you want in a relationship.

Whatever the relationship initially, we all try to impress and compromise others so they would like us. So a good way to start is to reflect on your values and beliefs and how they can contribute to the relationship. As you gain an understanding of yourself, you will realize the areas in which you need to set boundaries with people in your life.

Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself:

  1. What are the behaviors that bother me?
  2. How do I like to spend time with this person?
  3. Do I feel pressured or forced to do things that I am not willing to do?
  4. Am I being myself or pretending so others will accept me?
  5. Am I able to say no when I want to say no to this person?
  6. The things I do for my colleague, partner, or friend align with my values and beliefs.

Analyze your feelings and behavior when you are around people.

Think about how your friend, partner, co-worker, or boss makes you feel. Do you feel insecure and scared? Do you feel exploited? Do you do and say things to please them? Do you say yes to everyone when you want to say no to them? How do you feel after the social interaction? Do you feel burdened by the requests and expectations they place on you?

When there is discomfort, a feeling of distress, or a hesitation to do something, it is a primary indicator that you have set health boundaries with people.


Effectively communicate your needs to others. Vague conversations can make it difficult for others to understand. Set an appropriate time to communicate, and make sure the other person is also available and relaxed so that they can focus on the conversation. Avoid discussion in the middle of an argument or distress; it can worsen the situation and communication. Be prepared for what to say and what not to say. Be mindful of the words you say. Try to use “I” statements instead of “you.” For example, I feel bad when you yell at me; it makes me feel worthless.

In the communication process, the other person will have questions for you. Genuinely respond to them, and at the same time, make sure that you don’t need to overexplain your choices and decisions. Ask them how they feel about the boundary conversation, so they feel valued and acknowledged.

Be assertive with your boundaries.

As we set boundaries, many will not respect them and try to barge in. Prepare yourself to politely convey your needs and emotions about how you feel when they don’t respect your boundaries. It is essential to be mindful and assertive. You don’t have to be aggressive or passive when expressing your concerns to others. For example, if someone is constantly criticized and claims it to be a joke, you could say, “I feel disrespectful when you shame me in the name of a joke. If you do this again, I have to disconnect this friendship.”

How should you respond when others communicate with you about their boundaries?

It is quite natural to feel frustrated or embarrassed when another person wants to talk about setting boundaries. Negative emotions, an immediate need to defend oneself and reluctance to listen to what the other person is trying to communicate.

  • Take your time to listen to their concerns and needs.
  • Apologize if necessary.
  • Show kindness and acceptance to that person who wants to set boundaries.
  • Communicate genuinely about how you feel about the conversation.

When we fail to set boundaries and hold others accountable, we feel abused and mistreated, which makes us attack the other person, which is even more painful. So set boundaries. You have to love and respect yourself enough so you don’t have to hold others accountable.




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