Let’s have the relationship talk. Despite what you’re probably thinking right now, I don’t mean your significant other. Although that is an important relationship, I’m talking about all your relationships. The relationships you have with everyone in your life.
Why are we talking about healthy relationships on a health and fitness website? We’re talking about it because humans are social critters and require a community if we’re going to be healthy. If you want a strong, healthy community then understanding relationships is extremely important.
You Have A Relationship With Everyone You Interact With
When we talk about relationships, we tend to only think about our romantic relationships. That’s what a relationship is right? Nope, there are more than just romantic relationships. You have a relationship with the mail guy, even if you never see him. You have relationships with your family, friends, co-workers, and even random people you meet.
Because we usually only think about our romantic relationships, and there are often plenty of problems there too, we don’t think much about how we interact with other people. But absolutely the most important thing you have to do to build healthy relationships is to establish boundaries early. And once they’re established stick to them unless you want to change the nature of the relationship
Set Boundaries To Create Healthy Relationships
The things that are acceptable and unacceptable within the relationship need to be clear from the beginning. Otherwise, everything gets muddy and it has to be addressed later in a much more complicated way. Once a precedent has been set, it’s harder to go back on it.
If you go to the same coffee shop every day and the same checkout person takes your order, it’s pretty cut and dry. I pay you and you give me coffee. That’s the boundary of the relationship. This is even truer if you’ve been seeing this person only at the coffee shop for a significant length of time. But say this person asks you to do something with them outside the coffee shop. If you say yes, you have set a new precedent and have just expanded the boundaries of the relationship.
If you did want to expand the relationship then no problem, but if you didn’t then you just voluntarily violated your boundaries for that relationship. The coffee person rightfully thinks the relationship has been expanded and now you’re uncomfortable because you didn’t want to. It’s almost always more difficult to return the relationship to a tighter boundary than it is to keep it from expanding in the first place.
It’s often thought of as mean to not tell people things like I don’t want to see you outside the coffee shop. But in reality, it’s not because you’re not wasting that person’s time or your own time. Relationships take time and energy to maintain. And you can only really maintain so many at a time.
It can be very hard to be this honest and direct with people but setting and keeping boundaries are at the core of healthy relationships. This also applies to romantic relationships of course and it’s also where the most emotional and mental damage is done when it’s overlooked. It’s much easier to start building this skill with less impactful relationships than it is with a significant other, especially if you’ve been very bad about setting or keeping boundaries thus far.
Think About How You Want Someone To Fit Into Your Life
When you interact with someone new, think about how you want that person to fit into your life. Your relationship may last long enough to hold the door open for someone or it could someone who becomes a lifelong close friend. But make sure you’re setting boundaries that are right for you and what you want. Do you spend time with anyone you’ve known for a long time but you don’t really enjoy seeing them? These people probably don’t respect your boundaries or you didn’t set them.
If you let other people set the boundaries for you and just go along with it, you’re not living your life and are instead just going along with what other people want for you. Sometimes that works out ok, but most people are much happier when they are living the life they want rather than the one someone else wants for them.
I can’t tell you what your boundaries should be. That’s a unique and personal thing. But if you really think you almost definitely have a really good idea of what’s ok for you and what’s not ok for you. Just make sure you stick to those boundaries and things will mostly work out.
If you have someone in your life that doesn’t respect the boundaries you’ve set that means they don’t respect you. If this person is consistently a problem, it’s probably time to remove them from your life. See boundaries help you find who fits into your life as well. This way you only have people around you who help you build the life you want.