Love with limits. These “limits” are the healthy boundaries we all must set in relationships with those close to us. You can love a friend, with limits. You can love a child, with limits. You can love your partner, with limits. Limits protect us and the people around us, and they help others better understand us and respond to our needs.
Boundaries are parameters, lines we draw with people. They are determined by what we deem as OK and not OK, ethical and unethical, moral and immoral. We have varying distances depending on how well we know someone. You may have more or stricter boundaries with strangers than you do with Facebook friends, and more boundaries with Facebook friends than you do with a spouse or partner. This is true especially if we have healthy boundaries. We determine what we share with people based on how well we know them, trust them, rely on them, are committed to them, etc.
Setting boundaries in our relationships can be uncomfortable, but they are necessary. In unhealthy relationships, it’s imperative to set up good boundaries whether it’s comfortable to do so or not. Establishing and holding to boundaries in relationships is a good thing, just like when we use a calendar to set boundaries with our schedules. They ensure we maintain proper respect for other people, and that we don’t take ownership over something that doesn’t belong to us. In that way, boundaries help us to maintain accountability and keep us from getting burned out, burned up, or used up and abused.
We may have very flexible or non-existent boundaries, or very rigid boundaries that keep us from having healthy relationships with others or with ourselves.
Setting boundaries with others works best if we clearly communicate what the limit is, and how we would like the person to act toward us. For example, “Please do not call me stupid. That hurts my feelings.” Another example “I’d really love it if you would hold my hand when we are walking together.” Or another, “It’s not OK with me that you talk to your friends about what I said to you in private.” There are many, many examples of boundary setting, unique to the individual.
Having healthy and appropriate boundaries isn’t just about what is an unacceptable way to be treated, but also what we would like someone to do more of with us. Also, they aren’t only helpful in relationships with others; they are important within oneself (intra-personal boundaries). These limits help us change how we talk to ourselves which aids in coping with depression, anxiety, shame, stress, and self-image/self-esteem, among others.
Once we’ve determined what is OK and not OK to say to ourselves or an acceptable way treat ourselves, we then implement those limits and watch as we start to respect ourselves and treat ourselves with compassion and kindness.