The importance of setting boundaries in relationships


Mina Graham

Setting boundaries can only help relationships, and cause healthy open conversations.

Communication, respect, trust, and boundaries are all common answers when asked what the most important aspects of a relationship are. But when it comes to boundaries, lines are often blurred.

To create and conserve healthy relationships, knowing when to draw the line is very important. On a surface level, this sounds easy to follow, but in reality, many relationships have many gray areas that are important to clarify.

“[Boundaries] are important because you don’t want the other person thinking different things,” sophomore Huswat Olajide said.

When gray areas are not made clearer in relationships, they can potentially turn into something dangerous. Sexual violence is most often perpetuated by someone the victim knows, and this includes intimate partner sexual violence. Intimate partner sexual violence is any and all types of sexual assault in an intimate relationship. About one in four women and one in ten men have experienced a type of violence and/or stalking from an intimate partner. 

Through media portrayals such as TV shows, movies, and pornography those who are feminine are oftentimes portrayed as submissive, while those who are masculine are oftentimes portrayed as dominant. Though this can be true for some people, not everyone is like this.

People see these portrayals and assume the same behavior can be done in their personal relationships. In truth, many people are not comfortable with this, which can create dangerous situations. 

“They don’t wanna hurt the other person’s feelings,” Olajide said. The fear of being judged negatively and offending a person affects many people, which at times can stop someone from setting boundaries. Every healthy relationship has and respects each person’s boundaries. It is important to understand a person’s level of comfort in a relationship, and once that is made clear, the relationship becomes stronger.

Setting boundaries is not only an important aspect of romantic relationships and friendships, but for familial relationships as well. There are many cultural and societal expectations and norms that surround family. To create good boundaries, what one wants or needs has to be recognized by not only themself, but also their loved one(s). 

“If you don’t [talk about boundaries] the relationship could end badly, strictly because you’re not talking about it,” sophomore Zamani Munthali said. Excessive pressure from cultural and societal aspects of family can end up turning positive relationships into negative and toxic ones.

From the moment someone is born, they start to realize things they do and do not like. Children’s behavior is oftentimes a reflection of their caregiver(s). When improper communication is being shown, a child can pick up that behavior and possibly enter a relationship where they or a loved one has trouble setting and respecting boundaries. “It’s okay to [set boundaries]… no one thinks less of you,” Olajide added.

Boundaries may not always be an easy process. “I’ve been in a relationship where my girl has been more into it than I am, and sometimes I do act like I don’t care as much,” Munthali said. It requires everyone in the relationship to be open and willing.

When someone does not respect a boundary, continuing to talk about it may make them have a change of heart. If not, it is not a bad thing to distance oneself from them, whether it is temporary or permanent. 

When setting boundaries, it is important to listen to one another, be honest, be respectful, and ask questions. Every person is different and every person has different levels of what they are comfortable with. Boundaries are not meant to be rigid, they are meant to deepen and create healthy relationships.

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