Unfortunately, many people have at least one toxic friend or loved one. If your relationship is unchecked, you may fall victim to their harsh words or actions. Boundaries are crucial to any healthy relationship, as it allows you an “out” for not giving all of yourself to a person who wouldn’t do the same for you.
It’s okay to take a step back and say, “I need to set some boundaries for our relationship,” no matter if your loved one is a childhood friend, a parent, or known through some other relation. Boundaries benefit you and keep you safe, but they don’t come easily to everyone. Try out these tactics for setting boundaries in a relationship that has gotten out of your control.
1. Stay Optimistic but Realistic
If you have problems with a certain loved one, be realistic about how they may react to you setting boundaries. It’s okay to be optimistic that the conversation will go well, but base your expectations on past interactions with them. They may not understand or want to comply with your boundaries, and you need to prepare yourself for a tricky situation or conversation.
It’s okay to see the best in your loved ones. Still, you should set up boundaries to protect yourself from getting taken advantage of, for your health and safety. When your loved ones respect those boundaries, you can consider amending them according to your wants and needs.
2. Be Straightforward
When communicating with your loved ones — especially when setting boundaries — remember to be open and honest. Without proper context, you might find that your conversation is riddled with miscommunication, leading your conversation partner to misunderstand you.
The best action is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Try to put yourself first, even if it may upset the other person. Stand firm with your convictions and opinions so your loved ones will have a greater chance of respecting the boundaries you set.
3. Seek a Therapist
If you find it too challenging to create or set boundaries with someone, you may bring in an unbiased third party. A therapist can help bridge the communication gap and repair the relationship if you don’t know how to.
Plus, a therapist can give you tips on how to avoid second-guessing your thoughts and feelings about certain situations. With the coping mechanisms your therapist can introduce you to, you can feel more prepared for similar situations as they arise in the future.
4. Know That You’re in Charge
When you’re setting boundaries, you get to decide how much and how often you will allow someone into your life. If you want to retain the bare minimum contact, you can set that boundary. If your boundary is smaller, such as avoiding a few topics of conversation, that’s perfectly fine, too.
Whatever the case, you are setting these boundaries for a reason. You’ve acknowledged that you deserve respect, and the boundaries you create should reflect that. You are in charge of your own life, and that autonomy includes whether you want someone to be there for your tremendous accomplishments or your daily life.
5. You May Need Decompression Time
After a boundary-setting session, you may feel a bit drained. Wrestling with the idea of cutting someone you love out of certain areas of your life might take an emotional toll on you. If you’re hurting after one of these sessions, consider prioritizing yourself for a while in a pleasant way that can allow you to remain within your comfort zone.
Self-care is crucial to the human experience. You don’t want to overwork yourself to the point of burnout, and self-care can help prevent you from reaching that point and also lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression. If the discussion with your loved one didn’t go as planned, a self-care ritual is doubly important. You’ve done a lot of hard work, and now it’s time to allow yourself to heal from the pressure.
Keep Your Boundaries Firm
You have chosen to set boundaries because you have recognized that you and your needs matter. You didn’t choose to set limits to benefit toxic loved ones — you decided to do it for yourself. Keep that in mind when things seem tough or conversations feel too difficult. Do it for yourself because you owe it to yourself to feel peace in your daily life.