Relationship boundaries: A need or a way to push your partner away? In recent years, the conversation on the need for individual space in relationships has been on a rise. We all want some me-time. Most of us acknowledge that it is no fun to be joined to your partner at the hip, and one has to allow another space where they can exist without us, and do whatever they like in an individual capacity. However, when it comes to drawing boundaries in a relationship, the lines are blurry, and there seems to be no clear opinion on how to interpret them. If you are the one drawing the boundaries in a relationship, does it say anything about your level of commitment? Does it mean that you love your partner less? Should it be seen as a mark of disrespect?
Now, this isn’t just a question that a new relationship has to deal with. Even 15 or 35 years down the line in a marriage, one may feel the need to reassess their relationship boundaries. With time, our equation with our partner, our behaviour and thought process, are subjective to change. Which means that I may be okay with a certain thing my partner does in a new relationship, but it becomes problematic some months or years down the line. Since I am in a long-term relationship, I know how frequently this happens. However, women, who are inculcated with a people please attitude since childhood, find it hard to keep their partner in check.
For instance, a woman may be okay with her partner checking her phone initially, but then she does not want them to do that later on. Maybe she happily caters to a particular sexual fantasy of her partner in a new relationship, but one fine day it just stops appealing to her or makes her uncomfortable. Should she let her partner continue with the behaviour or actions that bother her? If she doesn’t speak up and ask them to step back, isn’t she being unfair to herself?
This isn’t just a question that a new relationship has to deal with. Even 15 or 35 years down the line in a marriage, a couple may feel the need to reassess their relationship boundaries.
We all have been at this awkward spot in our relationships, haven’t we? Sometimes, it is about our friend circle, other times it is about our families. How much interference from our partner is okay? Can they have a say in how much time we spend with our parents or friends? Or help out a cousin financially? And mind you, this is a two-way street. Every person has the right to question the level of interference by their partner in certain aspects of their life.
Honestly, there is no one answer fits all. How relationship boundaries work is what every couple has to decide for themselves. But one thing is for sure, establishing relationship boundaries shouldn’t be seen as a mark of disrespect, and this is something that needs to be conveyed to ensure that there are no hard feelings. For instance, when it comes to family matters, we all feel that we know how to handle the situation better, or that our partner’s participation is not going to help in any way. So why not communicate to our partner that the intent behind them to step back is certainly not to cut them out or to hurt them?
Establishing relationship boundaries shouldn’t be seen as a mark of disrespect, and this is something that needs to be conveyed to ensure that there are no hard feelings.
Similarly, when it comes to monitoring of Instagram posts, WhatsApp chats or sex, wouldn’t it help if our partner knows that their actions are making us uncomfortable? Relationship boundaries are not about hurting each other. They are mostly about nipping the problem in it the bud, so that it cannot complicate a relationship, or leads to bigger fights that can damage a relationship irreparably. When one looks at it from this perspective, it begins to seem like an act meant to improve your rapport with your partner. The key here could be a frank conversation, isn’t it?
The views expressed are the author’s own.