A relationship without boundaries is like a ship adrift without a captain in a stormy sea. I’m not saying you won’t survive, but you are sure in for a hell of a ride.
To get you through it, let’s see the warning signs that you’re not setting healthy boundaries in your relationship.
1) Excessive control
Let’s start with the obvious: A healthy relationship is built on trust and autonomy.
Excessive control over your actions, decisions, or interactions results in confinement and resentment.
For example, your partner insists on knowing your whereabouts at all times, frequently checking your phone, messages, or social media to keep tabs on you.
Or they discourage you from spending time with friends or family, insisting that their company should be your sole source of support and interaction.
Which brings us to:
2) Lack of personal space
Everyone needs personal space. It’s essential for maintaining individuality and emotional well-being.
Without it, you may feel suffocated or unable to pursue your interests and hobbies outside of the relationship.
For instance, your partner closely monitors your social media activity, questioning every interaction and post, invading your virtual personal space.
There are obviously no boundaries, let alone healthy ones, in this relationship or marriage.
And especially so if they have a grip on your wallet, too.
3) Financial control
In many cases, only one partner or spouse earns money while the other is at home with the kids.
There’s an obvious disbalance of power there. Still, in a healthy relationship with normal boundaries, that’s not an issue at all.
But then there are relationships where one partner has excessive control over all finances.
It makes the other financially dependent or with little to no access to money, which limits their autonomy.
It also results in a severe loss of independence.
4) Loss of independence
You have no healthy boundaries if you’ve given up pursuing your interests, hobbies, and personal goals because the relationship’s demands and expectations take priority.
For example, you’ve always dreamed of pursuing a specific career, but your partner insists you choose a different path because it aligns better with their goals.
Does such a relationship have a future, especially if you’ll be extremely unsatisfied with your career or job? Why should you sacrifice your future?
5) Constant sacrifices
Continuously prioritizing your partner’s needs over your own leads to resentment and a lack of fulfillment.
Your relationship has no healthy boundaries if there isn’t a balance between giving and receiving to ensure both partners’ satisfaction.
In a one-sided relationship, only one partner’s needs, desires, and wishes are met. But how does it come to such a disbalance?
Well, there are many possible reasons, such as a desire to please, fear of conflict, low self-esteem, cultural and gender norms, etc.
You first have to conclude which one is the underlying reason in your case. Only then can you work on balancing the relationship back to center.
6) Difficulty saying “no”
Struggling to say “no” results in you overextending yourself and neglecting your own needs. In other words, you don’t have any boundaries for one or more reasons I mentioned above.
Granted, if you’ve never set boundaries before, it might be tough to do it now all of a sudden. Your partner will certainly be shocked.
But it’s crucial to express your boundaries and communicate when something isn’t comfortable for you.
Especially if you feel drained by now already.
7) Feeling drained
If spending time with your partner leaves you emotionally drained, it just goes to show that the relationship is taking more from you than it’s giving.
Healthy relationships should provide support and rejuvenation, not exhaustion.
When you’re dealing with this, it’s easy to become frustrated and even feel helpless. You may even be tempted to throw in the towel and give up on love.
I suggest doing something different.
It’s something I learned from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê. He taught me that the way to find love and intimacy is not what we’ve been culturally conditioned to believe.
As Rudá explains in his video, many of us chase love in a toxic way because we’re not taught how to love ourselves first.
So, if you want to learn how to set healthy boundaries (among many other things), I’d recommend starting with yourself first and taking Rudá’s incredible advice.
8) Ignoring your values
What I also learned from Rudá is that compromising your values to please your partner results in a loss of self-identity.
For example, you keep your political beliefs hidden or change them to avoid disagreements, even though they’re fundamental to your identity.
Or even worse, you agree to raise children in a way that contradicts your deeply-held family values due to pressure from your partner.
In any case, you must maintain your principles and beliefs while finding common ground in the relationship.
I know that’s easier said than done for many people, but that’s the reality we live in.
After all, a strong and healthy relationship should respect and support each person’s individual values, allowing both partners to grow and thrive in alignment with their authentic selves.
9) Isolation from others
I already mentioned this briefly, but I want to highlight it again because it happens so often.
Family and friends are the backbone of almost every person. If your partner isolates you from loved ones, you lose your support network and risk potential emotional manipulation.
If you hear them talking badly about your loved ones, it’s a huge red flag. Even if your family is, let’s say, unusual, your partner shouldn’t disparage them.
If they have any nasty thoughts about them, they should keep it for themselves.
10) Unequal effort
Relationships are mutual partnerships. If you’re consistently investing more time, effort, and energy than your partner, you’ll end up with feelings of imbalance and resentment.
In many cases, the partner doesn’t even realize there’s an imbalance going on because of how they were brought up or because of their (wrong) relationship expectations.
The first step is to tell them, “Hey, wake up. You need to pull your weight!”
11) Constant criticism
A supportive partner should uplift and encourage you, not constantly criticize. Criticism makes you feel terrible and erodes your self-esteem. Plus, it creates an environment of negativity.
Ask your partner to explain their perspective. Understand why they’re constantly criticizing you and whether there’s any underlying issue that needs addressing.
This will help you both gain insight into the root cause of the criticism.
12) No alone time
We all need time to recharge and self-reflect. Sometimes, we just need to walk alone to mentally rest from others.
That doesn’t mean we don’t love them. On the contrary. But introverts especially need more alone time than others because of their nature.
Ultimately, spending time apart is necessary for preserving a sense of self and personal growth.
Not having alone time often results in codependency and interferes with personal development.
How to set healthy boundaries in a relationship
Step 1: Self-awareness
You need to understand yourself before you effectively set and communicate boundaries.
Reflect on your emotions, needs, and values. Consider what makes you comfortable and what crosses your personal limits.
This self-awareness will help you articulate your boundaries more clearly.
Step 2: Clear communication
Express your boundaries to your partner directly and respectfully. Use “I” statements to share your feelings and needs, avoiding blame or accusation.
Clearly explain why these boundaries are important to you and how they contribute to a healthier relationship.
Step 3: Negotiation
Have a constructive conversation where both you and your partner express your thoughts.
Find common ground and look for solutions that respect both perspectives. Negotiation helps create a balance that honors both partners’ needs.
Step 4: Consistency
Consistency is key to preserving boundaries. Once you’ve established them, stick to them. If you compromise on your limits occasionally, you’ll send mixed signals.
Consistency illustrates your commitment to your boundaries and reinforces their importance in the relationship.
If they challenge your boundaries, remain calm and assertive. Avoid getting defensive or aggressive, and focus on expressing your feelings calmly.
If they repeatedly violate your boundaries, voice the consequences of such behavior. This shows that you’re serious about maintaining your boundaries.
Step 5: Celebrate progress
Just as you expect your boundaries to be respected, remember to respect your partner’s boundaries as well.
As you and your partner work together to set healthier boundaries, celebrate the positive changes and how you improved your communication.
Remember that this is a continuous process that requires ongoing communication and mutual understanding.