Setting Limits For A Healthy Relationship

Setting limits is fundamental to a healthy relationship. It is also an act of respect for the other person and the relationship itself.

Setting limits is not easy. Among other things, many times we are not even fully aware of what the limits are or where to set them. However, they are essential for a healthy relationship, whatever its nature.


Many people, for example, confuse setting limits with expressing openly what they think or want without taking into account the other person or their circumstances. Others, on the other hand, use their own problems to “force” others to adapt to them. In any case, this is not setting limits for a healthy relationship.

On the contrary, setting limits means letting the other person know that there are needs, desires and personal preferences different from theirs and that, nevertheless, the relationship can be full if we respect each other’s particularity.

In this sense, it is not an imposition. On the contrary, it is about making our reality known to others and others to us, so that we can respect ourselves. In this sense, setting limits is something really beneficial for everyone:

  • By establishing personal barriers, we will avoid falling into blackmail and manipulation.
  • Since we show ourselves as we are in our needs and identity, the relationship and mutual knowledge is more true and real.
  • Therefore, the relationship will gain in quality, duration and satisfaction.
  • In this sense, we will avoid stress and frustrations in relationships (family, partner, friends, work, etc.).
  • In addition, we will be promoting self-esteem.

Saying “no” is difficult

Couple in therapy holding hands: setting boundaries

Setting limits is not easy. Indeed, many factors influence whether we are more or less assertive.

For example, many people are unable to say “no” in certain types of relationships for fear of being rejected by the other person. Similarly, others feel real stress at the possibility of conflict, so they refuse to express their feelings and needs to avoid it at all costs.

In many cases, the fact that we cannot or do not know how to set limits is something learned from childhood. The behavior has been shaped from an education for complacency. Thus, even in adulthood, it is difficult for us to say “no” or to set personal limits.

Indeed, by not pleasing the other, some people may even feel guilty, preferring to ignore their own feelings and needs.

How to set limits?

1. Find the right moment

Couple arguing

There are suitable moments and moments not indicated to set limits. For example, it is not advisable to “throw” what are our needs and limits in full discussion.

On the contrary, we must find a moment in which both parties are relaxed and are able to express themselves without outbursts, considering their words, with a spirit of cooperation and understanding, avoiding saying things that could hurt the other.

We must remember that setting limits should have a benefit for both of us. Therefore, the ideal is to find a time when we are not tired and the mood does not fluctuate, that is, we are not angry or upset.

2. Limits are set out of love and respect in every way

We must forget the idea that setting limits means being selfish. On the contrary, it is an action that is born out of the need and desire to keep that relationship as healthy as possible.

In this way, when we establish certain personal limits, we must bear in mind that what we are doing is helping the relationship to remain balanced and healthy. It is an act of love and respect towards oneself, the other person and the relationship itself. Therefore, we must discard feelings of guilt by being assertive.

3. Detachment

Couple talking

Many times we are unable to say “no” or establish limits because there is an emotional bond. Indeed, we fear hurting the other person, we have a special kind of respect for them, we fear that they will not understand us …

To do this, it is best to exercise in “detachment.” That is, you have to establish a distance between your feelings for that person and your real needs. Only then can we establish healthy and necessary limits.

4. Honesty and consequence

We must be sincere and honest when setting limits. This is obvious. However, we must also be consistent.

Thus, for example, if we want our limits to be respected, we must also respect those of others. As is logical, if we attack, they will attack us and if we do not respect, they will not respect us.

In any case, we must always bear in mind that all these tips must be taken from respect and the desire for the relationship to be healthy and lasting. We must never start from resentments or moments of anger.

It is a magical moment in which the foundations of a relationship that we want to continue are established, so we must always do so while also respecting the limits of the other. Everyone will win in mental health, and the relationship in honesty and truth.

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