4 Boundaries for a Healthy Relationship and 14 Questions to See How You're Doing

4 Boundaries for a healthy relationship

Orlando Counseling Providing Relationship Therapy

Feeling perplexed by your relationship patterns? Tired of feeling like you are failing when it comes to romance? As an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, I want to bring clarity and light to some questions you may have about your relationships. Whether you are in a relationship or reflecting on a recent divorce or breakup, this blog series on boundaries will bring to light some of the relationship dynamics that have you feeling stuck.

In the first post, Boundaries Deconstructed, I provided an overview of boundaries. In my last blog post, 3 Fundamentals to Boundaries [+ 20 Q Self-assessment to Boot], I walk you through the healthy functions of boundaries and how they impact they way you move through the world.

In this post, I provide four boundaries that promote a healthy relationship and 14 questions to see how you’re doing. This blog post focuses on boundary awareness rather than setting a boundary. In 5 Steps to Set a Boundary, I will share the steps to setting a boundary.

If you answer “no” to two or more questions in this blog post, I encourage you to explore your boundary dynamics with a therapist. Many of the clients I work with that struggle with establishing healthy boundaries had difficulties in their family of origin, meaning with mom and dad. In many cases, we needed to heal some of the earlier relationship wounds before the healthy boundaries would “click in.”

Physical Boundary

The first and most obvious type of boundary is your physical boundary. This includes your body and the personal space around your body, what I like to call your "bubble." Having control over the amount physical closeness and contact to your body, sexual or otherwise, is within your physical boundary. Having the freedom to say “yes” or “no” to any type touch is an example of a healthy physical boundary.

It’s also important to understand that your physical boundary needs are constantly fluctuating depending on your emotions, stress level, and environment. You may be open to a lot of closeness in the morning, and by the afternoon, you may not. Being able to identify this need within yourself and having the ability to communicate it are part of having a healthy physical boundary.

Some questions to ask yourself when it comes to physical boundaries are:

Can I identify my physical boundary needs?
Can I accept my changing physical boundary needs without judgement?
Do I feel comfortable communicating my physical boundary needs?
Can I ask for what I need without feeling bad (guilty, selfish, broken, etc)?

Material Boundary

This refers to your stuff, like your money, your car, your home, etc. Do you have the ability to say “yes” or “no” when it comes to sharing your things? Ideally, this boundary changes over time. Ideally, in the beginning of the relationship, you aren’t sharing your money, your car, or your home, however, as trust grows and the relationship evolves, you begin to share more material things.

I've seen many relationships end where someone feels completely taken advantage of because they gave too much away, ahem, my younger self is included in this group of people. Three dating relationships in a row, and I was like, "How is it that all my ex's owe me money?" 

Some questions to ask yourself about material boundaries are:

Do I take my time in sharing my material things?
Do I allow trust to develop before I share material things?
Does the amount of sharing match the evolution of the relationship? For example “We’ve been dating a year and now we are living together.” versus “We’ve been dating a week and now we are living together.”

Time Boundary

When it comes to time, I am talking about time spent together and time communicating (talking, texting, emailing, social media messaging, FaceTiming, etc.). Not only do we have differing individual needs when it comes to how much time we devote a relationship, our needs change depending on how we feel at the given moment. These time-needs can be negotiated in a healthy way by communicating openly about your needs and your partner’s needs.

Some questions to assess how you are doing with time boundaries are:

Do I feel comfortable setting time limits?
Can I say, “no,” without feeling guilty?
Can I attend to other important aspects of my life (work, fitness, friends) without feeling pressured to be in constant communication with my partner?

Internal Boundary

This refers to accepting your own inner world; your thoughts, emotions, and opinions and having the safety in the relationship to express yourself. By valuing your own inner experience, you don't feel compelled to change for someone else. Thoughts, emotions, and preferences are always changing, so allowing that fluctuation to happen without judgement is important in having a healthy internal boundary. The reciprocal of this is respecting other’s differing emotions and opinions, as well. If we all shared this appreciation for differences, not only would our intimate relationships be more peaceful, I believe our world would be a better place. 

Some questions to ask yourself to assess your internal boundary are:

Can I identify my emotions and express them to my partner?
Am I comfortable sharing a differing perspective in my relationship?
Can I accept that my feelings, thoughts, and preferences change frequently?
Am I safe in my relationship to express my inner world?

Healthy boundaries are fluid, not fixed, meaning they can change over time and hour by hour. Boundaries are not rules. They are about establishing a safe environment for you to identify what you need and communicating those needs to your partner.

In my next blog post, Boundaries: 21 Questions to Uncover Your Style, we will explore healthy and limiting boundary styles.. Until then, please feel free to share comments or ask questions in the comments box below.  

Want more on boundaries? Check out these posts:

Boundaries Deconstructed

3 Fundamentals to Boundaries [+ 20 Q Self-assessment to Boot]

Boundaries: 21 to Questions Uncover Your Style

5 Simple Steps to Setting a Boundary

Boundaries: 3 Reasons You Move the Line

Lauran is an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, FL. She also specializes in helping people heal old broken relationship patterns that keep them from finding, creating, and keeping healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family. Lauran uses a down to earth approach infused with cutting-edge therapies that go beyond traditional talking to help clients feel calm in their body and mind and find peace within themselves.