We’ve already discussed how men in relationships are statistically happier than those who are single, but how do you continue that happiness throughout the lifespan of the relationship? One man thinks he has the secret.
The secret? It all relates to setting relationship boundaries. Similar to work-life boundaries, relationship boundaries refer to defining things you are comfortable with in your relationship and things you’re not so comfortable with. For some, if set boundaries are repeatedly crossed by their partner (or indeed, if the person finds they don’t stick to their own) then the relationship isn’t a healthy one and should come to an end.
And of course, relationship boundaries don’t just have to apply to romantic relationships. As Love Is Respect says, “They apply to any kind of relationship you have – whether with a friend, family member, partner or anyone else in your life.”
Boundaries in a relationship also don’t have to refer specifically to physical behaviours or emotional thoughts or opinions. They can even be digital, as Love Is Respect adds, one such digital relationship boundary could be “I’m cool with following each other on social media but not with sharing passwords.”
Bobby Hobert, founder of the It’s The Bearded Man podcast, mindset coach and man on a mission to “build better men,” recently revealed his top 10 boundaries he has in his relationship, after spending “10 plus years single.”
WATCH: Bobby Hobert’s 10 Relationship Boundaries
Taking to TikTok, Bobby’s 10 relationship boundaries make perfect sense, and we agree all (or at least most) of them should feature in all relationships. The 10 relationship boundaries are:
- Communicate when something is wrong immediately.
- Support each other’s dreams and goals.
- Create a safe word that enables us to have space when in disagreement.
- Full trust in one another when out or not with the partner – here’s looking at all the jealous-type people out there.
- Always respecting each other’s opinions.
- Space in the morning to prioritise our well-being first.
- Never allowing each other’s past to disrupt where we are today.
- To give space to be alone when needed by either of us.
- Working together on lifestyle expenses.
- No screaming or shouting when in disagreement with something.
Bobby’s TikTok video is littered with comments of various opinions. Many are in support of his 10 boundaries, and someone adds “This can all be summed up in one rule. Have mutual respect for each other.” We can’t disagree with this.
But there are a number of people who have commented along the lines of “Giving advice when he was single for 10 years.”
It’s a valid comment, right? How could somebody who doesn’t have a great deal of experience possibly know the secrets to a happy relationship?
It’s similar to those who give fitness advice on social media. If somebody is incredibly jacked, our automatic response may be to follow what they’re doing and listen to them, because they know what they’re talking about, compared to a smaller guy, even if said smaller guy has qualifications. This point is highlighted perfectly by TikTok user @shaunjonescoaching.
As one user says in response to one of the unsupportive comments, “It’s better to be single 10 years and get to really know yourself and what you want from a relationship, than make the same mistakes over and over.”
Other users suggest Bobby’s boundaries will be forced to change if and when he gets married or has kids, “Things get complicated 10x,” says one.
Many users also wanted to highlight boundary number 7. “This is the number one thing that ruins relationships. People go into new relationships with feelings for someone else/emotional baggage.” Indeed, if you’re not over your ex, or you have multiple crushes at one time, then you’re not going to be able to truly give 100% of yourself to your new partner.
How do I know my boundaries?
If you don’t necessarily agree with Bobby’s boundary examples, but you do agree a relationship should have boundaries, then not only do you need to know how to communicate those boundaries with your partner, but you also need to know what your boundaries are in the first place.
If the idea of boundaries isn’t something you’ve thought of before, you might not know how best to figure them out. To offer some help, DMARGE spoke with Samantha Jayne, Relationship Expert and Advisor to Channel 10’s The Bachelor, to get her insights.
“Emotions are an excellent indicator of your boundaries. Ask yourself these questions, ‘Do you feel uncomfortable or comfortable?’. Tension and physical ain often is an indicator that your boundaries are being violated, on the other hand, when you feel good it means that is a positive boundary.
“Think of how you feel when you spend time with a particular person. Do you feel happier, or do you become self-critical? If you feel negative and self-critical it is likely that your boundaries are being violated.”
“Perhaps you are being undermined or disrespected. If this is the case, then it’s time to assess and have a voice. Your thoughts and emotions are valid, listen to them.”
“To clearly define your boundaries it is important to consider your values. Think about how you would like to be treated, how you feel, and what are your thoughts when it comes to physical boundaries, emotional boundaries, how you would like to be treated.”
“If it feels good it’s positive, but if it’s negative then it sounds like a boundary was crossed. A good way to reflect is the past, if you have felt pressured into things, or felt hurt, violated or bad, then write that down and that is a broken boundary.”
“Ask yourself how you would like it to be instead, it’s important to communicate this in the future.”
Communication with your partner
Samantha stresses that “communicating boundaries is critical for a healthy relationship.”
“Whilst it can cause fear of rejection or criticism due to not being accepted, if you work on your communication skills, you will find it easier to deliver your boundaries. In addition, it will improve your self-esteem and relationships and confidence. Confidence is considered very sexy so it’s important.”
“People like boundaries, believe it or not, it shows healthy self-esteem and shows you are not a pushover. As a bonus, healthy boundaries prevent you from getting into a toxic relationship. Toxic people don’t like boundaries, so they will gravitate towards someone without them.”
“A good structure to communicate your boundaries is to start with simple sandwich feedback. Positive, negative, positive. You could also use assertive communication such as the following.”
“‘When you (insert action), I feel (insert feeling), I need you to (insert action)’, for example, ‘when you scream at me, I feel disrespected and want to withdraw. I need you to manage your anger/emotions,'”
“To make this an even stronger boundary you can add the consequence at the end, ‘or I will need to leave the relationship’ or ‘we will need to go to therapy.'”
“It is important to use ‘I’ rather than ‘you’ as it feels like you are pointing the finger and it will not be well received.”
Can I/Should I Change My Boundaries?
While it’s highly likely any boundaries you set yourself will remain constant throughout your life, there could come a time where you feel like you could change them slightly, or drop some altogether. Perhaps some of your relationship boundaries were set when you were going through a particularly rough time, but you’ve worked on it and now you feel like you’re in a happier place.
Samantha says you can change your boundaries, but only for the right reasons,
“Boundaries are what keep us safe, you should stay true to yourself and never be pressured to give up your own needs for the sake of someone else. You should never do what you are uncomfortable doing.”
“So don’t change or drop your boundaries if it feels wrong, do it only if you feel ok. Trust your feelings. Take a moment to reflect on how it would feel to alter that specific boundary. This will give you the answer.”
We also asked Samantha what one should do if, for example, the partner met the majority of one’s boundaries (if there are multiple), but there were 1 or 2 that they didn’t quite meet. Would this be cause for the relationship to either never happen, or to end?
“It all depends on you. What are you ok with and what are you not ok with?” Samantha relates.
“It is important to communicate your boundaries and you may need to repeat them over and over until the person hears your boundary.”
“You should also accept that they may not hear, or choose not to respect your boundary. If this is the case, you should question how much this person respects you and whether it is worth it. If your boundaries are not respected, it can create negative feelings of resentment, leads to inner anger and sometimes can affect your self-esteem poorly. It leads to feeling violated and that is never ok.”
“Always trust your gut, and notice how your body feels. Do what feels right.”
It’s apparent, then, relationships aren’t necessarily as easy as you may have thought. If you’ve found your partner does something that doesn’t sit right with you, but you’ve often brushed it off, it could well be that they’ve crossed a boundary you hadn’t even thought to set yourself.
Using Samantha’s insights, it may now be time for you to sit down and really consider what you do and don’t want from a relationship, and if the one you’re already in meets those requirements. You could always consider an ENM relationship if it means you’re satisfied in all aspects of a relationship.
Disclaimer, DMARGE holds no responsibility if yours has to come to an end as a result of reading this article.