Maintaining Healthy Relationships

Relationships, in general can be very trickysimply because absolutes hardly exist in this space. The shade of it is so grey, that most often it is a complex interplay of ‘subjective realities’. Because of which, there are no rules etched in stone. It is contextual and more fluid, making it hard to decipher what one must do or not!

Despite the complex nature of relationships, the concept of ‘healthy boundaries’ has always appealed to me. Again, this isn’t a book of rules but it highlights some things that are imperative in the inception of forming healthy, sustainable relationships. Boundaries are guidelines, or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around them and how they will respond when someone violates them(outofthefog.net) and vice versa. This is an empowering practice that helps an individual function with self-respect.

"An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices, or betrays the self and each party expresses strength and vulnerability, weakness and competence in a balanced way."
Harriet Lerner

Here are some pointers that constitute healthy boundaries:

  1. Assertiveness–It is the ability to communicate opinions, thoughts, needs and feelings in a direct, honest and appropriate manner. Standing up for oneself and being able to say ‘NO’, to begin with are instrumental in this practice.

  2. Be wary of entitlement – Entitlement often is a dangerous enemy in all forms of relationships. The cliché of “treat someone the way you want to be treated” strikes a chord with this point.

  3. Emotional boundaries
    • Always communicate what made you feel the way you do, but also take responsibility of dealing with your emotions instead of blaming.
    • And also, there is no reason to tolerate any form of emotional abuse.



  4. Intellectual boundaries – This refers to one’s beliefs, values and perspectives. There is no need to agree with everything, but it cannot be disrespected or disregarded.

  5. Expectations – Watch out for unrealistic expectations. This is necessary across all relationships. Remember, that nobody on this planet is born only to fulfil our expectations and that we fail to do it as well.

The few of many barriers to boundary setting include fear of abandonment & confrontation and guilt. Transcending this discomfort and experimenting is the only way to kick our existing assumptions and make our lives more fulfilling.

Image source-Google

Author
RACHNA MURLIDHAR
Psychologist & Outreach associate,
Mpower-The Centre, Bengaluru
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