Healthy Boundaries Equal Healthy Relationships

One of the hardest lessons we have to learn in life is that when it comes to relationships no matter how hard we try other people aren’t always going to behave the way we want them to, care for us the way we care for them or respect our feelings, even when we respect theirs. People everywhere struggle with this truth every single day, and for some, relationships are their greatest source of stress and unhappiness. But here’s the thing, trying to get other people to feel and behave the way you want them to is almost always an exhausting exercise in futility. You really only have control over yourself, your feelings, beliefs, choices, and actions.

As for the people in your life, you can show them the way you want to be treated, model effective communication, love and support them, inspire and maybe for a time motivate them, but in the end, they will do what they are going to do.

We can accept them as they are, or walk away.

Why Relationships Need Boundaries

Of course, relationship stress is rarely that simple. We have responsibilities, shared history, emotional attachments, and circumstances over which we have no control (aka relatives).

Or, do we?

This will come as a surprise to many, but you have more control over the quality of your relationships than you may realize. Whether we’re talking significant others, family, or friends, relationships thrive when there are healthy boundaries.

Boundaries are necessary for healthy relationships. When a relationship ends early, it’s rarely as a result of defining our boundaries, but because we DIDN’T, then got resentful because the other person wasn’t able to recognize our needs.

~ Author Unknown

This is not about creating a list of rules you make up just to keep others in line. Healthy boundaries free you to care for yourself in ways that foster confidence and integrity and come from respect, core values, and your highest priorities. They protect you from being overwhelmed by the demands of others and pave the way for you to achieve a more balanced life with happy, fulfilling relationships and true intimacy. To establish some perspective, let’s take a moment to consider the difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries.

Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries

  • Say yes even when you really want to say no.
  • Never taken the time to become clear about your values or priorities.
  • Do things you don’t want to or that feel wrong just to keep the peace.
  • Have no clear boundaries for inappropriate physical contact.
  • Need the validation of others when making choices about your life.
  • Frequently experience feelings of overwhelm from too many commitments.
  • Expect those closest to you to know when they’ve done something to upset you without you saying anything.

Signs of Healthy Boundaries

  • Aware of your personal space and speak up when someone invades it.
  • Get to know people before trusting them with your emotions, time, personal information, or physical touch.
  • Able to say “No” or walk away when you feel pressured or unsafe.
  • Able to let go of a destructive relationship without experiencing disabling depression.
  • Have a circle of supportive friends and healthy interests to see you through adverse situations.
  • Accept others for who they are without pressuring them to please you or fulfill your wants and needs.
  • Are clear about your personal values and standards.
  • Know how to communicate your boundaries clearly and confidently.
  • Let relationships enrich your life without completely defining it.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to avoid setting boundaries in the misguided belief that complying with each and every request will win the love and respect we so desired from others. As is so often the case with avoidance, this opens the door to creating a self-fulfilling prophecy because every act of compliance or self-denial chips away at the respect others have for you, in effect undermining the very things you want most. Remember – you teach people how to treat you, and if you don’t respect yourself then how can you expect others to?

At first, you may feel selfish, guilty, or even embarrassed when you set a boundary, but don’t confuse discomfort with self-worth or the reaction of others with the validity of your right to take care of yourself.

~ Author Unknown

A healthy relationship is one in which the boundaries are strong, yet flexible enough to allow you to embrace and thrive with your own uniqueness. There is a sense of respect on the part of each individual that allows the other to live as full a life as possible and to explore their own personal potential.

Closing Thoughts

Sometimes we believe that if only people were different, cared enough about us to accommodate all our wants and needs, our lives would be so much better. You can talk about why people do the things they do until you’re blue in the face, or try to make sense of a situation by replaying conversations over and over again. But people will continue to do what they want to do. All you can control is how you choose to live your life. By choosing to set healthy personal boundaries that reflect your authentic self you balance respect for others with respect for yourself. And the best part is it’s all up to you.

You have the power and authority to create the quality of your own life experience, and that includes building stronger healthier relationships!


Marquita Herald
Marquita Herald
Marquita is a transformational author, coach, founder, and chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. Her message is that resilience isn’t an umbrella to be reserved for a rainy day and you don’t need to wait until you are facing a major life change or crisis to claim the power and authority you have to create the quality and course of your life. In every way that matters, resilient living is a lifestyle choice. Through her blog, books, courses, and coaching, she provides insights, inspiration and a wealth of personal experience as a roadmap to grow through life’s inevitable challenges. Marquita makes her home in Oregon and loves red wine, rock n' roll, hiking, road trips, peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

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