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How Setting Boundaries is Crucial to Your Relationship Success

Do you have difficulty settingl boundaries in your relationships? Perhaps you think it is normal to merge with the other person, to become as one. It is a common myth.


“Respect yourself if you would have others respect you.” Balthazar Gracian

What Can Happen in Relationships without Personal Boundaries?

Financial problems

Fidelity issues

Violence and physical abuse

Low self esteem

Emotional abuse

Doubt, fear, anger and other negative emotions


Lack of maturity

Do all of these happen in all relationships without personal boundaries? No…not necessarily…and the degree to which they can happen are very much effected by different factors…

How does Setting Boundaries Protect You?

When you are a person with healthy boundaries, there are certain behaviors that you just don’t tolerate. You have certain expectations from other people. Here are a few of the expectations that a person with healthy boundaries has.

  • An expectation of personal safety when in relationship, emotionally and physically 
  • An expectation of mutual respect
  • An expectation of love and loyalty
  • An expectation of having the relationship honored, financially, physically, emotionally

So let’s look at a practical example. Charlene is  a woman who is in a relationship with a man that she has been dating for 6 months. John keeps her waiting for him when they have arranged to meet. He doesn’t phone or text to say that he is going to be late.

He keeps her waiting for an hour and does it on a regular basis, with no valid excuse (like a flat tire). It just doesn’t occur to him that she would be worried or that it would be inconvenient to her. That is a lack of respect.

John also has a terrible habit of using sarcasm when he is talking to Charlene. He gets angry and although he has not hit her, has thrown some of her ceramic figurines against the wall and broken them. 

Even though Charlene thinks that because they have a lot of common interests, they are a good match, she is wrong. John does not treat her with respect. If his anger ever got out of control, there is a chance that he would be violent to her.

Charlene has inadvertently let this bad behavior continue by allowing it to. She has not set firm personal boundaries and said “No, that isn’t acceptable”. If she had solid personal boundaries, she would protect herself emotionally and physically. 

There is an old expression….”Give them an inch and they will take a mile” and that applies to boundaries, too. If you aren’t firm in your boundaries, and you give an inch, some people will continue to push at the soft boundaries you have, until they push them all the way back. The thing is, you have to let them do that…they are your boundaries, after all, aren’t they?

What Comes First in Setting Boundaries?

  • Know who you really are. When you have a clear picture in your mind of who you are and how valuable you are, whether in relationship or not, you won’t accept bad behavior.
  • Know that you deserve to actually have personal boundaries. Everybody does, you know.
  • Know that your feelings are just as important as the feelings of the other person. 
  • Know that it is okay to say no…not just for the sake of saying no…but if you feel like a personal boundary is being crossed, step back and say no.
  • Know that, even if you are in partnership with the other, you are a separate individual, responsible for your own life…as they are responsible for their own…

It can be hard for others to accept that you are setting limits especially if you have let them get away with bad behavior in the past. Be patient and set limits anyway. If there is a true bond of love, your partner will be okay with it, eventually, and your bond will grow. If they aren’t okay with you setting personal boundaries…well then… that is another story, isn't it?

A relationship is a meeting of equals who love and respect each other.  If you don’t have personal boundaries that your partner respects, your relationship is in trouble. If you take responsibility for their behavior, you deprive them of the opportunity to grow, to own their own lives so that they can learn.

There is an image and a stereotype of romantic love that is put forth by Hollywood and the movie makers. It isn’t real. In order for a real relationship to succeed, both people need to know who they are and have personal boundaries. Then, they can work together as two powerful individuals to create a real relationship, one that actually works.

"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.

  • Suzanne Jones April 28, 2012, 12:22 am

    This is a great post Sherie! It is applicable to inlaws and kids as well. We must have boundaries!

    • Sherie April 28, 2012, 12:36 am

      Absolutely, Suzanne,and thank you so much! I appreciate your comment!

  • Dr. Sarah David April 27, 2012, 9:21 am

    Such a wonderful article! I think it is important that you remind us about boundaries in relationships and how important it is to establish them up front. We must respect ourselves in order for others to do so. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Sherie April 27, 2012, 7:19 pm

      Yes, Sarah, it is so important to establish them up front. Thank you so much for your comment!!

  • Lorii Abela April 27, 2012, 7:24 am

    This is just awesome, Sherie! You are right. It all starts with figuring out what you can tolerate and not. On the same note, for integrity reasons, one should be able to put the same kind of boundaries expected from another to oneself. Otherwise, it would all sound unfair and one sided.

    • Sherie April 27, 2012, 7:20 pm

      Thank you, Lorii, I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  • Liz April 26, 2012, 2:52 pm

    I need to work on this Sherie! Thank you for reminding me to work in my personal goals!

    • Sherie April 26, 2012, 3:16 pm

      You are so welcome, Liz!! Thank you so much for your comment! : D : D

  • Theresa Cifali April 26, 2012, 9:28 am

    You are my angel today, Sherie. I really needed this post. I have been struggling with a particular relationship of late. It’s not violent or angry, but there is a lack of respect for sure that just isn’t ok with me. As a matter of fact, it would be poignent to say that that it is sucking the life out of me these days. So this reminder of personal boundaries came at just the right time. Thank you!

    • Sherie April 26, 2012, 10:52 am

      Theresa, my dear, I am sorry to hear of your struggles…lack of respect in a relationship can’t be tolerated…remember…you are very important and you DESERVE to be treated with the utmost respect…always…

  • Sharon April 25, 2012, 8:05 pm

    This is an amazing article. I can agree with you from experience on many levels including parenting! 🙂

    • Sherie April 25, 2012, 8:19 pm

      Thank you so much, Sharon!! I really appreciate your comment!

  • Mandy Edwards April 25, 2012, 7:38 pm

    Great stuff Sherie! Boundaries are very important in any relationship!

    • Sherie April 25, 2012, 7:47 pm

      Thank you,Mandy, they really are!! : D

  • Stacy April 25, 2012, 6:34 pm

    Amen to Eva. I had no personal boundaries in my marriage. It was awful, I was happier the day I left than the day it began! I now have them and I’m blessed to be in a relationship that is strong and solid because of it!

    • Sherie April 25, 2012, 6:39 pm

      Stacy, this is such a big issue for a lot of people…and look at the difference in your own life because now you have those boundaries! Wow, way to go! Thank you for your comment!

  • Sara Nickleberry April 25, 2012, 2:38 pm

    This is so important. We certainly have to love ourselves first. “A relationship is a meeting of equals who love and respect each other. ” BINGO!

    • Sherie April 25, 2012, 2:39 pm

      : D You’ve got it!! Thanks for taking the time to comment, Sara!!

  • denny hagel April 25, 2012, 2:14 pm

    Loving ourselves automatically creates healthy boundaries! Excellent article! Thanks for sharing!

    • Sherie April 25, 2012, 2:15 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Denny!

  • Patricia Ogilvie April 25, 2012, 10:54 am

    Great article! can relate – boundaries don’t always come across as positive – yet that’s the only way to survive! great job today!

    • Sherie April 25, 2012, 11:14 am

      Thank you, Patricia! Boundaries don’t always come across as positive, yet they are so necessary! Thank you for your comment!!

  • Eva Blaskovic April 20, 2012, 9:25 pm

    This should be required reading for anyone going into a relationship, especially marriage. Parents can use it to help them phrase what they are trying to teach their youth about the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Even school health programs would benefit from handing out such an article. An important aspect of teaching this concept to people is providing an example, which you have–something people can relate to and picture for themselves in order to understand.

    As you pointed out, a person must first know who he/she is, what he/she wants, and what is acceptable and not acceptable to tolerate. Behaviour such as John’s should be the first warning that things can become far more serious over time, and should never be tolerated.

    • Sherie April 20, 2012, 9:57 pm

      Wow, Eva, I am so touched…that is very high praise…thank you so much! It is so crucial to first know who you are and what you want. Those kinds of warnings are quite often glossed over and hidden under the rug, in the beginnings of romantic relationships. It is a big red flag. I so appreciate your comment, Eva!