When a relationship is new, delirious with happiness and apprehensions about what lies ahead, it’s possible for people to lose themselves. Because love can be intoxicating, so much so that giving in to your partner's demands at the cost of all else – even yourself – seems worth it. That’s both the ultimate beauty and the pitfall of a romantic relationship. It gives too much, it takes too much. How healthy is it for your own identity?
The bargain of love is subjective to each individual. But often it so happens that women end up pawning too much of themselves in order to fulfill expectations. Guilt, sacrifice, apology – these are traits we are told we must possess for the success of a relationship, even if it means risking your individuality. Setting boundaries in a relationship thus becomes important. Mutually deciding on certain things beforehand is key for a comfortable, equal, and respectful relationship. Here are six ways to set boundaries for a healthy relationship:
1. Consent and love go hand-in-hand
Everything in a relationship must be consensual, especially physical relations. Having a partner does not mean catering to their sexual whims at the cost of your comfort or lifestyle. You are entitled to speak openly to them about where you draw the line in bed or out of it.
The presence of consent is non-negotiable . It should be there when your partner wants to try something new in the bedroom but you don’t, or when they want you to send a nude but you’re apprehensive, or even when you’re halfway through sex and want to stop. Let them know ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are complete sentences.
2. A barter system isn’t so bad
Make an advance bid for the things your partner can lay claim to and in return, you can lay claim to as well. Which basically means develop an understanding so solid that minute irritations are kept to a minimum. For instance, if you are someone who cannot compromise on your afternoon nap and your partner can’t lose out on nightly sleep, barter your time. They don’t call you when you’re snoring after lunch, you don’t call them after dinner. Or if you enjoy clubbing while your partner prefers shopping, make a promise to not drag the other along on your respective expeditions.
These may seem like small issues but they are often what can blow up in the face.
3. Communication is key
Our eyes and ears may be exhausted from being confronted with this age-old maxim found in boring moral science books, but it’s there for a reason. Because communication really is key. Especially in a new relationship, when things are still settling and you’re still getting to know the other person.
It’s important to let them know how you feel at all times – about them, their actions, their thoughts. Speak or text if that’s what you’re comfortable with, but make your innermost emotions heard without hesitation. To keep misunderstandings at bay, communicate. Humans aren’t yet mind-readers.
4. Break the stigma around personal space
Getting into a relationship – no matter how life-changing or absolutely revolutionary – does not necessarily mean relinquishing your personal space to make space for someone else. Yes, you will inevitably have to make room in your life for your partner, but not by losing ownership rights over your own zone. Even in relatively long-term unions, such as a marriage, partners need some kind of or at least a semblance of ‘alone time.’ And it is not such a bad thing.
We’re all our own selves first, and someone else’s person later. So hang your arms around your beloved for as long as you want. Talk to them till either your own or your phone’s battery dies. But do politely set the fence around your personal space without shame, for times you don’t want to talk or don’t want them to interfere.
5. Take accountability for your actions
The maturity of a relationship, and simultaneously of a person, comes from their ability and courage to take accountability for all they say and do. What it does is strengthen your own dignity and prevent bad blood from arising between the two of you. Since you know what you said and did, going forward, it becomes easier to demarcate boundaries around what is appropriate for you and what’s not.
Standing tall on your words also avoids baseless allegations that may be thrown your way. It even communicates the respect you hold for your partner and take the bond you share with them seriously.
6. Don’t leave things open-ended
No relationship is set in stone, and it doesn’t have to be. We are forever evolving, forever changing, and with it, our love and attraction too may turn the tide. While that is natural, what makes it healthy is that it concludes with closure. Why must either partner lie to the other or leave them hanging as to the status of the relationship? It will only end in heartbreak.
If you get together with a partner without the intention of staying long or can feel that things are heading towards a breakup, or want to raise children with them without marriage, let them know. Don’t keep them in the dark about the foundations of your relationship. If you’re not on the same page, it’s okay to leave. But do close the book.
Image Credit: Bustle
Views expressed are the author’s own.