There is a plethora of information on how to create boundaries on the World Wide Web.
We frequently discuss boundaries as we learn to become self-loving and self-caring people. But after you have spent time developing and sharing what your boundaries are, how do you maintain what you have created?
The process of having boundaries is very much that, a process. Though a great deal of our energy is spent identifying and sharing what our boundaries are, the final component holds its own weight. And maintaining boundaries with ourselves is one thing. Maintaining boundaries in our relationships is an entirely different journey.
The key to maintaining boundaries in our relationships requires the work and respect of the other person.
Let’s explore this with an example from my life:
Recently, I introduced my fiancé to my extended family members. With playful remarks and joyous excitement, there was a cheerful buzz coming from my loved ones. Well, all except one. Let’s just call her ‘Auntie’. Auntie has a history of using passive aggressiveness and inappropriate comments in her relationship with me. My guard is often up and ready-to-defend when in her presence and this situation was no different.
When meeting my fiancé, she whispered inappropriate comments about him to my other family members and eventually, to me. I confronted her by saying that she was wrong to speak negatively about him and not to do it again. Hence, creating a boundary.
But she continued with her commentary the next day. And I found myself on-guard again to battle her negativity: “Don’t start that again Auntie. Don’t speak about my fiancé that way any more. That’s it.”
Even in my clear and confrontational approach to maintain boundaries with my Auntie, I realized that it is up to her to carry them out. Though I can continue to reiterate my boundary, it is her responsibility to:
- Hear and understand the boundary.
- Understand that her behavior is not okay.
- Put energy into changing her behavior.
- Consistently put energy in the changed behavior.
Maintaining boundaries in our relationships is entirely up to the other party that crossed the boundary in the first place. This means that though you can do your work in recognizing when the boundary has been crossed and restate what your boundary is, our relationships require that other other person respect and work towards doing their part in maintaining said boundary.
Notice and reflect on what you need to do your part in maintaining boundaries. What’s so challenging on this journey to having healthy relationships with others is recognizing that respecting boundaries is just not everyone’s priority.
How do you maintain boundaries in your relationships?