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When boundaries are crossed in a relationship…

When boundaries are crossed in a relationship…

Setting boundaries is a very important part of relationships. It’s a healthy thing to do because it allows everyone involved to protect their time, energy, needs, and desires. And, more importantly, have their expectations met.

The process of setting boundaries requires honest and clear communication. You both have to discuss what you need, what you can and can’t tolerate, and how you’d like to be treated. 

1) Setting boundaries can be challenging, but necessary:

Of course, setting boundaries is not always easy because it requires a deep level of self-awareness. However, it will save you a million agreements and maybe even break-ups you, and you can get better at it with practice. Once boundaries are identified and accepted, they must be respected by both parties. 

But what to do if boundaries get crossed in a relationship? If that happens, it needs to be addressed immediately. Having a respectful but assertive conversation about the limits that were crossed is the right way to go about it. To help you with that, here are a few tips on how to handle that conversation. 

2) Tips for when boundaries are crossed in a relationship:

1- Leave no room for confusion or misinterpretation:

When you are unclear about your boundaries from the start, it’s more likely people will cross them. Not because they meant to, but because they didn’t have a clear idea of what it meant. This is why it’s so important to set clear boundaries from the beginning. 

If a boundary got crossed, you need to explain it again and do your best to be detailed and clear. For example, saying “I need space” is not enough information.

How much space do you need? For how long? What does space mean to you? Do you want to be left alone altogether or do you just want silent company for some time? Details matter and they leave less room for misunderstanding. 

2- Make sure the consequence of crossing a boundary are clear:

If you set clear boundaries, the consequences for crossing those boundaries should be equally clear. At the end of the day, crossing a boundary is disrespectful and that kind of behavior should have consequences.

If there are no consequences, you’re basically saying you’re not serious enough about your boundaries to defend them or enforce them. When a boundary has been crossed, sit your partner down and be clear about what that means.

Following the example above, you could say “If you don’t respect my need for space enough to honor it, I will limit the time I spend with you.” This tells the other person that if they don’t respect you, your interactions will change. 

3- Stay persistent:

If you notice that you’re often saying “yes” when you mean to say “no”, it could be time to revisit your boundaries. It’s important that you’re persistent and enforce firmly your boundaries. You can’t waver or give the other person constant passes every time they try to cross your boundaries. 

That effectively teaches them that you don’t feel strongly about your boundaries, so they don’t really matter. However, they do matters and it’s not okay for your partner to constantly try to undermine your needs and push your limits. Check this article out later for how to put your foot down in a relationship, if that’s something you get shy about.

Your limits and your partner’s limits exist to protect yourselves and your mental and emotional health. You need to stand firm every time there’s pushback because you need your boundaries to be solid. 

4- Don’t lose your cool:

Though it can be frustrating when someone pushes your boundaries, you need to stay calm. Discussing boundaries shouldn’t turn into a fight. You can hold your own and not budge without being aggressive. The point here is to communicate how the boundary violation made you feel and what you want to do moving forward. 

So, instead of making accusations, focus on yourself and your feelings. Say something like: “I feel angry that you did this and that…”, or “I’m disappointed that you don’t respect the clear boundaries I’ve set.”. You can even say: “I need you to please do this and take things more seriously…”

Now, if your partner is aggressive and they don’t respond well to your assertiveness, make sure they understand you won’t be able to communicate if they continue that way. Say something like: “I don’t appreciate you speaking to me this way; we can take a break to cool off if you need to so we can have a more productive talk.”


Talking about boundaries is not always easy. It can be awkward if you’re not used to standing up for yourself or being clear about what you will and won’t tolerate. However, it’s important to do it and it’s important to be firm. 

Remind yourself that boundaries are important not just for your own health, but also for the health of the relationship. It’s good for both partners to have limits and reinforcing them is important for the relationship. Check this article out on the importance of setting boundaries in a relationship.

Boundaries allow you both to protect your sense of self and your energy. Even if the other person doesn’t agree with them, they must be respected. These conversations will get easier with practice, so try not to shy away from having them in a respectful, honest, and loving manner. 

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