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What Is A Boundary In A Relationship?

You might ask yourself, I have heard this word boundary, but I do not know what it means. Boundaries are often mentioned in terms of relationships. Boundaries are a simple concept, but they can vary from person to person. Boundaries essentially keep the good stuff on the inside and the bad stuff on the outside. In the book Making Dating Work Boundaries in Dating, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend discuss boundaries at length. It is a fabulous book to pick up if you are interested in how boundaries should apply in a relationship.

Now, I just mentioned that everyone has boundaries whether they realize them or not, and they are meant to keep the good stuff on the inside, and the bad stuff on the outside. Now boundaries can keep the good people close to you, and the people that will hurt you away. Think of boundaries as an invisible property line around yourself, and that those boundaries should keep the good things in, and protect you from things you do not want in.

Examples of violations of your person boundaries include: the loss of freedom of oneself, being with the wrong person, control issues, the inability to say no, doing too much within the relationship at the expense of yourself. Boundaries are your beliefs and ideals that make you especially unique. Infringing upon your boundaries only serves to make you an unhappy person.

How do you know what your personal boundaries are? You need to know yourself. Shakespeare said "To thine own self be true." You do need to know what is important to you. What qualities do you like in yourself, and want from others. For example if you value honestly, being with someone that is not honest will not make you happy in the long term. You will need to be strong enough in your personal character to eliminate people who do not exhibit honestly in their words and in their actions.

Now looking at just you being honest with yourself requires some homework on your part to acknowledge what is important to you, for you to be willing to uphold your ideas, and then you must communicate your ideals to others. You need to communicate your expectations about a relationship clearly. When that other person may violate your expectations you need to be willing to discuss these ideas head on, and if need be you need to be willing to set that relationship free.

Boundaries are really meant to protect you. They are meant to keep you happy, and safe in relationships, whether these are friendships or relationships that may go further. You do have some ownership in knowing what things are important to you, they may be honestly, personal character, not using drugs and or alcohol. Once you know where your standards are you can communicate these to others and position yourself around people that will not violate your personal boundaries.

Stephanie Manley is the editor for, she also writes a variety of articles on relationships at

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