How to Set Boundaries with Loved Ones

Learning how to set boundaries with friends and loved ones can be a daunting task. Boundaries can be emotional (i.e.: respect for our feelings), intellectual (i.e.: respect for ideas/opinions), physical/sexual (i.e.: being touched), or even digital (i.e.: sharing passwords/devices). Often, we worry about how the conversation will be received – might this hurt their feelings, or even rupture the relationship?

Set boundariesIt is worthwhile to spend some time preparing for the conversation. If the boundary you are trying to set disrupts the traditional dynamics of the relationship, you might be in for some resistance. This resistance may come in the form of arguing/protesting, manipulating (i.e.: trying to make you feel guilty), or simply ignoring your requests. Typically, the resistance from the other party is unconscious or unintentional. If the dynamics of the relationship have always worked for the other party (i.e.: they get they’re needs met, you do not) it is natural that they will resist change. But maintaining the boundary when it continues to be violated presents another hurdle. For example, telling someone that you don’t have time to talk on the phone is one thing, but actually interrupting them and ending the call is another.

Setting healthy boundaries and standing up for your needs is essential to mental wellness and maintaining relationships that support you, as well as those around you. Working with a counsellor can help you understand what your needs are and where your boundaries lie, as well as find the language to make requests that your loved ones can understand. Spending some time preparing for the conversation will contribute to a better likelihood that your boundaries will be honored and respected.

Sara Lewis is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and offers appointments at Local Health Integrative Clinic on Sundays and Fridays. Click here to book an appointment with Sara.