Relationships, as you may already know, are built upon communication. One thing many people do not realize is that communication and boundaries are connected. Thus, poor communication is the result of unhealthy boundaries. Yet, distinguishing which boundaries are good and which are unhealthy can be more than confusing, especially if you and your partner carry some trauma (which we all do).
What Is An Unhealthy Boundary?
Boundaries are integral to a relationship because they protect you. When you have healthy boundaries in a relationship, you notice a boost in your well-being. You have a firm sense of who you are, and you do not feel resentment. You have the freedom to be who you wish to be while having the support (and giving support) of a loving partner.
An unhealthy boundary, on the other hand, shows an imbalance that compromises your independence in the relationship and upsets intimacy. Another way of looking at unhealthy boundaries is a lack of respect for one another and your values.
Signs Of Unhealthy Boundaries In A Relationship
What does an unhealthy boundary look like in a relationship? You may have already experienced such poor boundaries or have seen them in action among your parents and friends without ever realizing it. Here are some signs of unhealthy boundaries in a relationship:
1. You Have Set Boundaries But Never Enforced Them
A lot of people get strange with the concept of setting boundaries, but let’s be honest. Boundaries are not that hard to create. Do you have a hard stop for meetings or the work day? You’ve set a personal boundary. Do you carve out personal time in the evening and ask that no one bothers you? That’s another boundary.
However, if you are not assertive about those boundaries, what do you think is going to happen? Yes, problems. 99 problems, and not having boundaries started them all.
When you set boundaries but do not reinforce them, you are telling others that they do not have to take you seriously. Worse, you chip away at your self-esteem and self-efficacy, because you cannot stand up for what is important to you.
2. You Have A Tendency To People-Please
Unhealthy boundaries equal compromised boundaries. What does a compromised boundary look like?
Consider this: Your spouse asks you at the last minute to entertain your mother-in-law while she is in town so they can go hang out with their friends. Even though you are already tired and have to take care of other responsibilities around the house, you say, “No worries” and wear yourself down to entertain her.
You might think this is a decent compromise because your spouse should be able to hang out with their friends. It may make you feel good at the moment. However, this pattern of people-pleasing to avoid conflict or consequences is unhealthy.
It shows others that you don’t mind being used, in a sense. Even if it makes you uncomfortable, you need to stand up for yourself.
3. Sex Is Not How You Want It To Be
Setting sexual boundaries is important, particularly if you and your partner do not see eye-to-eye on everything you’d like to experience in the bedroom. Some people are more adventurous than others, and that could put a strain on intimacy when you do not like the same things they like. Romantic intimacy in relationships is built on communication—just like everything else. In short, if you are sacrificing your own sexual expression for the pleasure of someone else, or worse, if your needs are not being meant at the expense of someone else, then something is wrong.
Your body is your own. You have a right to say no and be heard.
4. You Spend Every Waking Moment Together
Is your partner connected to your hip? Do they want to spend time with you—and only you? Are you separated from other aspects of your life because they want to be involved? This is not a good sign. Wanting to spend time together is normal, but you should be able to have your own identity. If “I” becomes “us” or “we,” it could mean that your partner fears abandonment or that you are codependent.
Constant togetherness could cause resentment, particularly when you feel that you have no time to be yourself. If you wish to form healthier boundaries, be sure to define the personal ones with how much time you need to yourself or with your own friends and family.
5. They Betray You, But You Stay With Them
Betraying the person who loves you most is wrong, especially because it can cause intense emotional trauma. Lying to one another, ignoring privacy, infidelity, disclosing your information with your friends, coworkers, and family…all these things are poisonous. Furthermore, if your partner is blaming you for their actions without taking on some (or all) of the responsibility for their actions, something is wrong. The worst thing you can do is stay with this individual without reassessing your boundaries.
Realize that you do not deserve to be belittled this way. If you feel that you do not know how to get out of such a situation, it may be time to talk to a therapist. Couples Academy can help you strengthen your skills at setting boundaries.
Learn How To Set Healthy Boundaries In A Relationship With Couples Academy
Unhealthy boundaries perpetuate issues in your relationship. Therefore, learning how to spot the signs of unhealthy boundaries and setting up healthier ones is key. If you are struggling with forming boundaries and communicating with your partner, consider attending couples therapy together. The team at Couples Academy has a compassionate and unique approach to couples counseling. You can simultaneously strengthen your relationship, resolve issues, and rebuild trust and intimacy together. Get in contact with us today to learn more about our programs.