healthy boundaries

Healthy Boundaries: How to Set and Keep Them

Healthy boundaries are essential for maintaining healthy relationships with others. But how can you know when it’s time to set personal borders and how you do it?

Think about it: do you feel like you’re always giving and never getting? Do you feel used and taken for granted by the people in your life? If so, consider setting healthy boundaries. 

Unfortunately, even the closest relationships can be unhealthy without boundaries. This is because we all have different needs and expectations. Without healthy limits, getting hurt or taken advantage of is easy.

And not only can weak boundaries lead to unhealthy relationships, but they can also impact your mental and physical health. For example, unprotected exposure to stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and even physical illness.

This article will discuss what personal boundaries are, why they are essential, and how to set and maintain them in your life. Whatever your relationship status, it’s necessary to have healthy borders. So let’s get started!

Boundaries Definition


What are healthy boundaries? In short, boundaries are limits we set to protect ourselves from being taken advantage of or hurt emotionally and physically. So naturally, boundaries are not weapons we use to keep people out; rather, they are guidelines we use to protect ourselves and our relationships.

For example, healthy boundaries could be telling your partner that you need some time alone after a long day of work instead of immediately getting into a discussion about your day. This boundary gives you the space you need to decompress without feeling overwhelmed or taken advantage of.

Another example of healthy boundaries might be setting a rule in your friend group that no one is allowed to gossip about others behind their backs. This protects everyone in the group from being hurt by hurtful words.

Finally, an example of personal boundaries might be saying “no” to unwanted touch, even if it’s just a hug from someone you’re not close to. This boundary protects your personal space and ensures you only allow people you’re comfortable with to get physically close to you.

Setting boundaries is an essential part of taking care of yourself. By setting borders, you tell the world what you need to feel safe, respected, and happy. Boundaries can be physical, emotional, or mental and can be set in any area of your life.

It’s important to remember that setting healthy boundaries does not mean being rude or unkind. On the contrary, setting borders often shows great respect for yourself and others. In addition, personal borders can lead to healthier relationships, better communication, and more trust.

Why Are Healthy Boundaries Important?

There are many reasons why healthy emotional boundaries are essential. First, they help us stay connected to ourselves. When we have mental boundaries, we can listen to our needs and wants and act accordingly. This is crucial for maintaining mental and emotional health. 

Another reason why protected personal space is important is that healthy boundaries help us to prevent being taken advantage of by others. As a result, we are less likely to allow others to manipulate or control us. We are also less likely to tolerate disrespectful or abusive behavior from others. 

Lastly, setting healthy boundaries help us maintain more beneficial relationships with the people in our lives. We can set clear expectations with others and communicate effectively when those expectations are not met. We are also more likely to respect the boundaries of others, which leads to more respectful relationships overall. 

Self-Care Includes Setting Boundaries

There’s a lot of talks these days about examples of self care. And rightfully so – taking care of ourselves is essential to our overall wellbeing. But what often gets left out of the conversation is healthy borders. Strong borders are a form of self-care. They help us to protect our physical, emotional, and mental health.

We can say “no” when we have healthy boundaries. We can set limits on how much we give of ourselves. We can take the time we need to recharge and rejuvenate. Healthy bordersallow us to put ourselves first – not in a selfish way, but in a nurturing and supportive way.

If you’re unsure if you have healthy boundaries, ask yourself these questions: Do I say “yes” when I want to say “no”? Do I feel like I’m always giving and never receiving? Do I often feel resentment towards others?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it might be time to reassess your psychology boundaries. Why? Because this quick little quiz revealed that your borders are likely unhealthy.

Now, this isn’t to say that you’re a terrible person if you have unhealthy boundaries – we all have been there at some point in our lives.

But it is essential to be aware of the signs so that you can make changes if necessary. So let’s look at unhealthy boundaries in a little more detail.

Unhealthy Boundaries

Unhealthy personal boundaries can manifest in several ways. For example, you might constantly give to others without receiving anything in return. This could be your time, energy, money, or emotional support.

You might also say “yes” to things you don’t want to do and violate your boundaries in relationships  – just because you feel you have to or don’t want to disappoint someone else.

Or maybe you find it hard to say “no” in general, even when it would be better for you if you did.

Unhealthy boundaries in life examples:

  • Saying yes when you want to say no
  • Not speaking up when someone hurts or disrespects you
  • Agreeing to do something you don’t want to do
  • Tolerating abusive or disrespectful behavior from others
  • Putting your own needs last all the time

All of these scenarios of blurred personal boundaries share one common thread: they involve sacrificing your own needs for others. And while there’s nothing wrong with being generous or helpful, you should never do so at the expense of your own well-being.

So how can you set healthy boundaries? It starts with getting to know yourself and what you need to feel comfortable, safe, and happy. Once you clearly understand your own needs, it will be easier for you to communicate them to others. Here are some tips.

How Do Healthy Boundaries Look in Relationships?

relationship boundary

According to the book about healthy relationship boundaries, “Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself” by Melody Beattie, setting personal borders is “the key to stopping codependency.”

Codependency is a system of behaviors that one engages in to please others at their own expense. An example of these blurred personal boundaries might be continuing to go on dates with someone even though you’re not interested in them because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. This can be harmful because it leads to resentment and can result in the codependent person feeling taken advantage of.

Setting healthy boundaries is a way of taking care of yourself and respecting yourself. It’s about knowing what you will and will not tolerate from others and being assertive in communicating those limits.

Just as importantly, it’s also about not violating the personal boundaries of others. For example, if you have a friend who doesn’t like to be hugged, you should respect their limit and not try to force physical affection on them.

Many different types of boundaries can be set in relationships. Some examples include:

  • physical personal boundaries (e.g., personal space)
  • emotion boundaries (e.g., not sharing too much too soon)
  • sexual boundaries (e.g., setting limits on what you’re comfortable with)
  • intellectual boundaries (e.g., not discussing specific topics)
  • financial boundaries (e.g., not lending or borrowing money)
  • healthy boundaries of time (e.g., not intruding on someone’s privacy).

The important thing is that you identify what your boundaries are and then communicate them to others. If you do this, you’ll find that your relationships are more fulfilling and less draining, thanks to setting healthy boundaries.

This is because you invest your time and energy into people and activities in which you want to be involved. You also avoid putting yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable or taken advantage of.

That being said, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries isn’t always easy. People pleasers, in particular, may have a more challenging time saying “no” or sticking to their convictions.

You might worry about what others will think of you, or whether they’ll still like you if you set healthy boundaries. If this is the case, it’s important to remember that healthy relationships are built on mutual respect.

If someone can’t accept your boundaries, that says more about them than it does about you. Having solid boundaries usually attracts people who are secure enough to not need to control others.

Remember that It’s also okay to change your boundaries as needed – as you get to know yourself and what works for you better, your boundaries may evolve. Just as relationships change over time, so do the limits within them.

How to Set Boundaries

Now that you know what are healthy boundaries and why they are essential, you might wonder how to set them. First, we should say that as the variety of relationships in our lives is so vast, no one answer fits all situations. Therefore, we will share some tips that might help you get started with setting healthy boundaries.

First and foremost, it’s essential to be clear about what your needs are. This may require some introspection on your part. If you’re not entirely sure what you need, try asking yourself the following questions about healthy boundaries:

  1. What do I need in this situation?
  2. What am I feeling?
  3. What do I want?
  4. What am I hoping to achieve?

Answering these questions honestly will give you a good starting point for setting boundaries. However, it’s also essential to remember that your needs may change over time, so don’t hesitate to revisit them.

Another important aspect of setting borders is knowing how to communicate them to others. This can be tricky, as you don’t want to be rude or insensitive while setting healthy boundaries. An excellent way to approach this is by using “I” statements. 

For example, instead of saying, “You’re being too clingy,” you could say, “I need some space.” This ensures that the other person knows that it’s not them, per see, but rather your own needs that you’re attending to.

Of course, setting boundaries can be complex, even with the best intentions. People may not always understand or respect them. In these cases, being firm and assertive in upholding your boundaries is essential. This doesn’t mean being confrontational or aggressive; instead, setting boundaries means calmly and confidently reiterating your limits and why they matter to you.

These were general tips for setting and maintaining healthy borders in your life. If you’re struggling to set boundaries with specific people in your life, read on for more specific advice.

How to Set Professional Boundaries

You’re not alone if you’re struggling to establish boundaries at work. Many people have difficulty saying “no” or setting limits with their boss or colleagues. However, it’s important to remember that you have a right to do so.

Here are a few tips for setting professional healthy boundaries:

  • Think about what you need and want from the situation. What are your goals? What is your bottom line?
  • Communicate your needs and wants clearly and assertively. Be direct in what you say and avoid being passive-aggressive while setting boundaries.
  • Follow through on your boundaries. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. This will help people take you seriously and respect your limits.
  • Be prepared to negotiate. Remember that there is usually room for compromise, but be willing to walk away if necessary.
  • Be consistent. Don’t send mixed messages by sometimes enforcing your healthy boundaries and other times not. This will only confuse people and make it harder for them to understand what you expect.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no.” You have a right to do so and must assert yourself when necessary.

The corporate hierarchy may confuse the concept of healthy boundaries. Still, it is critical to remember you are an individual with needs outside work. Therefore, do not forget to nurture those relationships and activities that make you feel whole. A little self-care can go a long way in maintaining healthy boundaries in your life.

Setting Boundaries with Parents

It can be challenging to set boundaries in relationships with parents, mainly if they are used to having a lot of control over your life. However, having strong boundaries with everyone, including your parents, is vital.

There are a few things you can do to set and maintain healthy boundaries with your parents:

  1. Set clear expectations with them about what you will and will not tolerate. This may include things like them respecting your privacy or not trying to control every aspect of your life.
  2. Be assertive in communicating your needs to them. This means being direct and honest about what are healthy boundaries, what you want and expect from the relationship.
  3. Don’t be afraid to take some space from them if necessary. This may mean spending less time with them or even cutting off communication if they do not respect your boundaries.
  4. Seek support from other people in your life if you feel like your parents are crossing your boundaries in relationships. This could be friends, family members, or even a therapist.

It’s important to remember that you have a right to set and maintain healthy borders in your relationship with your parents. You have grown up and are now an adult with healthy boundaries, so it’s essential to be treated as such. If they are not respecting your limits, then it may be time to take some distance from them.

Parents who disrespect their children’s boundaries often do so because they are emotionally immature. Unfortunately, chances are they’ll never understand how their behavior is hurtful. If you’ve tried to talk to them about it, and they’re not receptive, then it may be best to take some space from them.

How to Set Boundaries in a Relationship

Setting boundaries in a relationship can be challenging, especially if you’ve never done it before. You may worry about how your partner will react or feel guilty about setting limits. But it’s important to remember that healthy relationships are built on trust and respect, which means respecting each other’s healthy boundaries.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips:

  1. Talk to your partner about what you need and why it’s important to you.
  2. Be assertive but respectful when communicating your boundaries.
  3. Be clear about what you do and don’t want to do in setting healthy boundaries.
  4. Don’t be afraid to say no.
  5. Stick to your boundaries, even if your partner doesn’t like them.

The process of setting boundaries is not fast and easy, especially in romantic relationships. Your partner can be the kindest person in the world, but if you constantly sacrifice your needs for theirs, they will take advantage of you.

Competitiveness is a part of human nature, and if you have weak boundaries in relationships, others will find and use them. They may love you and not want to hurt you. Still, if you allow them to constantly take advantage of your kindness and generosity, they will continue doing so.

You may be afraid to ruin the relationship by setting boundaries, but not having any will surely destroy you. Of course, it can initially feel uncomfortable if you’re not used to setting or enforcing limits. But like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Start small while setting healthy boundaries and work your way up. For example, if your partner is always asking for your opinion on their outfit, start by saying something like, “I’m not sure, what do you think?” instead of giving a full-blown fashion show critique.

Setting Boundaries with Friends

How to set boundaries in a relationship with friends? It is difficult, especially if you’ve been close for a long time. But it’s essential to do so to protect your own mental and emotional health. Here are some tips:

1. Be clear about your needs. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or taken for granted, it’s important to communicate that to your friend and set healthy boundaries. They can’t read your mind and may not even realize they’re crossing a line. Be assertive in expressing what you need from the relationship.

2. Give yourself some space. Suppose you’re constantly being pulled into your friend’s drama instead of maintaining healthy boundaries, or starting to feel exhausted by the relationship. In that case, it’s okay to take a step back. You don’t have to end the friendship, but giving yourself some space can benefit both of you.

3. Don’t be afraid to say no and protect healthy boundaries. Your friend may not be used to hearing “no” from you, but standing up for yourself is essential. If you’re uncomfortable doing something or don’t have the energy for it, don’t hesitate to say so. Your friend will respect your honesty and healthy boundaries.

4. Set limits on how much you share. It’s okay to be open and honest with your friends, but there are also such things as too much information. Find yourself constantly venting about your problems or oversharing details about your personal life. It might be time to establish boundaries around what you share with them.

5. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right in the friendship, trust your gut and do what’s best for you. You might need to take some time apart from the friend or even end the relationship entirely if it’s no longer healthy for either of you.

It can be challenging to learn how to set boundaries in a relationship, especially if you have never done so. As a result, you may feel guilty or selfish at first.

But it is important to remember that setting healthy boundaries is not about being mean or uncaring. It’s about taking care of yourself and protecting your emotional well-being.

How to Maintain Healthy Boundaries

Imagine you have followed our tips on setting healthy boundaries and feel good about it. You have established firm yet kind limits with the people in your life. But then, one day, someone steps over your boundary. What do you do?

Here are a few tips on how to maintain healthy boundaries:

  • First and foremost, stay calm. It can be hard to keep cool when someone has upset you, but it’s important to remember that getting angry will only worsen the situation.
  • Second, don’t take it personally. It’s easy to feel like we are being attacked when someone steps over our examples of boundaries. But chances are, they are not doing it on purpose.
  • Third, be assertive. This doesn’t mean you have to be aggressive or confrontational. Simply state your boundary firmly and calmly. For example, healthy boundaries statement is, “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel comfortable discussing this with you right now.”
  • Finally, follow through with your consequences. You may need further action if you’ve started your healthy boundaries and the other person doesn’t respect it. This could mean ending the conversation, walking away, or even ending the relationship.

The last point probably scares you the most. Still, it’s important to remember that you have a right to set and maintain healthy boundaries in your life – no matter what. Just because someone is family or a close friend doesn’t mean they get a free pass to disrespect your boundaries. You always have the right to protect yourself and your energy.

It’s painful to set healthy boundaries and distance in a relationship, but it’s sometimes necessary. Suppose someone continues to violate your boundaries even after you’ve set them. In that case, it may be time to re-evaluate the friendship or relationship.

While you sacrifice your life force, healthy boundaries, and well-being by staying in an unhealthy relationship, you also teach the other person that treating you this way is okay. It’s not okay. You’re worth more than that.

Remember, you always have the right to set healthy boundaries in your life – no matter who the other person is. Your boundary-setting muscles might be weak at first, but the more you use them, the stronger they’ll become. And as you get better at setting and maintaining boundaries, you’ll find that your relationships will improve as well. Win-win!


In conclusion, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is vital to your well-being. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it. So don’t be afraid to put up those walls – your life will thank you for it.

Boundaries are essential to maintain in all of our platonic or romantic relationships. By having these standards, we can protect ourselves from being taken advantage of and keep our energy focused on those who deserve it. Healthy boundaries can often be challenging to maintain, but having these types of relationships is so worth it.

If you’re unsure where to start, that’s okay! Just remember that boundaries are based on respect and self-love. Start small, and don’t be afraid to adjust as you go. Your relationships will thank you for it.

Thanks for reading! We hope this article was helpful. And remember, strong boundaries are essential in all aspects of life – so don’t be afraid to put up those walls when needed. Your mental well-being will thank you for it. Good luck and happy boundary-setting!

I'm Alana Wade, a psychologist with over five years of experience working with relationships. I've dedicated my career to helping couples and families create lasting, meaningful connections.