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Which Came First? Weak Boundaries or Relationship Anxiety?

If you haveWhich came first weak boundaries or relationship anxiety relationship anxiety, this might sound familiar. Are you willing to over commit? Do you sacrifice yourself on the altar of your relationship?

Do you have a tendency to be the one who always makes the compromise? Do you give up what you need in order to salvage the relationship?

If any of this rings a bell for you…or you feel taken for granted…or relationship anxiety is a reality for you…read on…

I have a client who just recently left her relationship because the boundary between her and her significant other were murky. She gave too much. She sacrificed the life that she wanted…in order to please her partner…and in doing so…she lost a big part of herself.

Fortunately, for her, she was able to see that there was a problem, and in spite of having anxiety about the relationship, was able to see her way clear to discovering who she was again…even though the cost was the relationship.

Sometimes…when we begin a relationship on the wrong foot…when one person is continually giving too much…putting their needs last…the relationship can’t survive.

Which Came First? Weak Boundaries or Relationship Anxiety?

This really is a chicken or the egg question, isn’t it? There probably is no right answer but I will go out on a limb, here. I think it is the relationship anxiety…

Because a person who feels good about themselves…who believes that relationships can add to their lives…and who feels confident when going into a relationship…doesn’t let their boundaries get soft…and merge with another person in order to feel good about themselves.

We develop weak boundaries when we are made to feel guilty…to feel shame…as small children. We develop limiting beliefs that we are not good enough…or that we are “less than”…and so we hide who we really believe that we are…

We think that if other people really knew who we were, they wouldn’t have anything to do with us. We can think this of people who tell us that they love us…we can think this of people who marry us.

If You are Hiding Who You Are

Then, it stands to reason, that you would be anxious. There would be that constant state of anxiety because you would be afraid that someone would discover who you really were.

What kind of life is that? To hide yourself…no wonder that relationship anxiety is so powerful…

We hide ourselves because we don’t believe that it is safe to be us. At some point in time, in the past, a negative emotional event happened…and when it did…you drew a conclusion about yourself.

Was that conclusion true? Absolutely not…because it isn’t true that you are less than magnificent…just because you can’t see it, doesn’t make it so…

Let Go of the Fear that is Relationship Anxiety

Anxiety is just fear. It is fear of an imagined future. When we have relationship anxiety that goes hand in hand with weak boundaries, we don’t feel safe because there is no structure…no place where we can pinpoint where we are in space…the point where the other begins…

My client made a decision to let go of the anxiety that was plaguing her in her relationship. She began to define herself as an individual….ask yourself this question:

Who am I without a relationship?

In order to not have relationship anxiety, you actually need to know who you are without a relationship.

You need to feel that you can survive without a relationship.

The minute that having a relationship becomes less significant to you…when you can take one or leave one….then the relationship anxiety goes away.

You have value whether you have a relationship or not. When I was single, I found my husband once I let go of the attachment to ever having a relationship…it’s strange how that works…it’s almost like we push away, energetically, the very thing that we are wanting so much…

Because if you want it so much…it’s because you don’t have it…let go of that wanting energy…you can only want something you don’t have…when you have the energy of having it…you can let it in…it is a bit convoluted…but if you think about it for a while…it does make sense.

Redefining Yourself and Setting New Boundaries

It is time to set limits…to redefine yourself. Be willing to ask the tough questions that you have been putting off.

  • Who am I without a relationship?
  • What is important to me? What do I value?
  • If I were to be alone for the rest of my life, what would I want to accomplish?

When you know yourself…when you develop a greater self-esteem…your boundaries automatically get strengthened. You can see where you stop and the other begins…

The anxiety about being in relationship goes away with firm boundaries…because you don’t fear getting hurt. You know who you are. You’re happy with who you are. You aren’t dependent on feeling good just because someone else cares about you. You already feel good about yourself.

Then…that relationship anxiety can just slip away…into the night…and disappear…just like that….

“Drive your own life…you deserve to, don’t you?” Sherie Venner


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I am a Relationship Coach who helps others create happy, healthy, loving relationships…including the relationship they have with themselves…by breaking through those blocks and barriers to success. I use various techniques gathered through training as a Master Practitioner of NLP, timeline, hypnosis and common sense gathered through life experience.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rob Hodgins December 27, 2012, 12:59 pm

    I really LIKE this post! Boundaries, like barriers, can be imposed on us by others. But…the most powerful boundaries and barriers are the ones that we impose on ourselves.

    Thankfully, we can redefine them when we need to.

  • Edmund S Lee December 25, 2012, 6:07 pm

    Great point that you brought up here. I’ve seen all too many cases where people have not been comfortable with themselves being single – wanting to get into a relationship – that they have ignored the underlying issue that is buried within them. Better to address it sooner rather than later because it sure as heck will present itself in the future.

  • Meryl Hershey Beck December 24, 2012, 8:21 pm

    I used to say I was a chameleon–you tell me what you want and I will be that person. How sad! I am so glad that is no longer me! 🙂
    Meryl Hershey Beck recently posted..De-Stressing the HolidaysMy Profile

  • Elizabeth L Maness December 23, 2012, 9:34 pm

    This is such a great topic Sherie! So many people can see themselves as a person free standing of a relationship of some kind. My youngest daughter has had a really hard time adjusting to not having a boyfriend after a 3 year relationship. It has been a hard 6 months..;) She just does know who she is alone. ..;) Nailed it!
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    • Sherie December 24, 2012, 7:28 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Elizabeth, I appreciate you! It is tough when a relationship is over, especially if you don’t know who you are when you are alone.
      Sherie recently posted..Do You Need to Tame Your Inner Scrooge?My Profile

  • Sharon O'Day December 22, 2012, 8:36 pm

    What I’ve often wondered is what people do when they are already in a relationship and realize they’ve allowed boundaries to get muddied. How do they re-establish them in an existing relationship, Sherie?
    Sharon O’Day recently posted..Comment on Business Is Not Kabuki Theater by Ruth HegartyMy Profile

    • Sherie December 22, 2012, 9:06 pm

      It depends on which boundaries have been muddied, Sharon and how far it’s gone. Some boundaries, once they’ve been crossed, are difficult to re-establish, especially if they are physical boundaries. For example, if there is physical violence, it’s a deal breaker. I think if that boundary has been crossed, then, for most people (and yes, there are exceptions), the relationship is over.

      So, the first step is knowing what the boundaries are…and once you know that…then dealing with the underlying issue that caused the weak boundary, the limiting belief. Once that limiting belief is released, the way you look at yourself changes and then, so does the way that you’re partner looks at you, too. When you believe differently about yourself, you change and how you interact with others changes as well…and the behaviors that you accept from others will change.That may sound simplistic but it often works that way.

      If the relationship has common values,and there is no violence, and both partners love each other, then open discussions and setting limits in a firm and loving way, goes a long way to repairing those boundaries. It all starts with yourself and what you believe about yourself, though…make sense?
      Sherie recently posted..Do You Need to Tame Your Inner Scrooge?My Profile

      • Sharon O'Day December 23, 2012, 11:59 am

        Yes, it does, Sherie. I was thinking of so many of my clients who have allowed themselves to get “lost” in decades-long relationships. Once in their 50s with children grown, they realize they no longer recognize themselves. No violence, just boundaries they allowed to get muddied in the interest of other priorities: “children and family first,” for example. I guess it comes down to whether the partner wants the relationship to survive her retaking her rightful place.
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        • Sherie December 23, 2012, 1:04 pm

          That, unfortunately, is a very common scenario, Sharon. If a partner isn’t willing to renegotiate the relationship when the other wants to reclaim their own personal power, then it won’t survive. They both have to want each other to be the best they can be in spite of the changes to what the norm was in the relationship. Both partners then can walk hand in hand together,both growing,changing and honoring their true selves, to a brighter future and a relationship that works for both of them.
          Sherie recently posted..Do You Need to Tame Your Inner Scrooge?My Profile

  • Lisa Frederiksen - BreakingTheCycles.com December 21, 2012, 7:43 pm

    Oh my gosh – I LOVE this post and your title! It’s so true – weak boundaries or relationship anxiety. I really like your suggestions for how to set healthy boundaries, let go of fear (a real crippler) and redefine yourself. This is excellent.
    Lisa Frederiksen – BreakingTheCycles.com recently posted..Let It Go – Nice Saying, But How?My Profile

  • Barbara Peters December 21, 2012, 4:20 pm

    Setting boundaries is very important for any relationship. Knowing your self so that you can set healthy boundaries allows good to come into your life. Thank you for sharing.

  • Michael Anne Conley December 21, 2012, 3:34 pm

    Hi Sherie,
    This is terrific reinforcement that so many times we forget, because weak boundaries feed on relationship anxiety which feeds on weak boundaries, perpetuating the problem. And like you say, it really starts with nourishing our relationship with ourselves, a way more wholesome type of feeding!
    Michael Anne Conley recently posted..Reshaping RoutinesMy Profile

  • Ruth Hegarty December 21, 2012, 2:45 pm

    Hi Sherie,
    I’m not currently in a relationship with a person but I recognized myself in this post in connection with my dog. I have a very high maintenance dog (he was ferral for the first year of his life so he has many issues) and I can see that I need far better boundaries with him if I don’t want his issues to run my life. Thank you for your insights and recommendations. They apply accross species 🙂
    Ruth Hegarty recently posted..How Increasing Your Self-Esteem Will Increase Your Bottom LineMy Profile

    • Sherie December 21, 2012, 2:56 pm

      That is too true, Ruth! I might add that this applies across other types of relationships with people, too! : D Thanks so much for commenting, love your insights about applying this to our furry friends, as well!
      Sherie recently posted..Which Came First? Weak Boundaries or Relationship Anxiety?My Profile

  • Suzanne Jones December 21, 2012, 6:58 am

    Sherie speaking from experience this about sums it up..When we don’t feel whole or good enough, we take anyone who comes along (ok well I didn’t do that but I did avoid relationships in case he found out who I really was)…Now, much time alone, I actually found who I was is a pretty great gal! When we feel differently about who we are we won’t tolerate anything less!!
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  • Vicky December 21, 2012, 12:03 am

    Great tips! Setting boundaries is important for a healthy relationship.

  • shirley wilson December 20, 2012, 9:19 pm

    Sound advice — really enjoyed your article.
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  • JumpinGoat Coffee December 19, 2012, 6:19 pm

    It is very important to know yourself and keep your boundaries in all aspects of life! Great article

  • Terressa Cortez December 19, 2012, 10:55 am

    Great tips and advice. Knowing who you are and setting boundaries is important in having great relationships.

  • Norma Doiron@Start, Grow & Strenghten Your Business ONLINE December 19, 2012, 8:11 am

    Oh how I love the boundaries! Learned a lot about that in the last decade or so. Thanks for all you do Sherrie. Merry Christmas!

  • jean December 18, 2012, 11:34 pm

    Great tips and strategies Sherie. I love the point you make about having boundaries and knowing yourself.
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  • jana December 18, 2012, 1:51 pm

    Lovely article Sherie, really uplifting and encouraging advice !

  • Meire Weishaupt December 18, 2012, 12:12 pm

    Loved when you talk about feeling good about ourselves, and this is a key factor. Enjoyed the post, you addressed really good points, and my favorite part is “redefine yourself and set boundaries”. It is important to do that time to time, and don’t lose the identity! Thanks Sherie!
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  • Alexandra McAllister December 18, 2012, 11:04 am

    Sherie, as always, you’ve shared such valuable strategies. This one is great! “It is time to set limits…to redefine yourself. Be willing to ask the tough questions that you have been putting off. ” I totally agree with you! “When you know yourself…when you develop a greater self-esteem…your boundaries automatically get strengthened.” Priceless!

  • denny hagel December 18, 2012, 7:45 am

    People who ‘over give’ in relationships typically suffer from low self-esteem…fearing they don’t deserve the best they overcompensate to become more desirable or settle for something less…I agree, it is a viscous cycle. Great article!
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