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A Relationship Killer: Not Setting Boundaries

Aug 18, 2007
Every relationship has to have boundaries, and this can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Contrary to the popular belief of most hopeless romantics, relationships are not "partners meet and live happily ever after" types of affairs. Real relationships are composed of two individuals with often differing mindsets, outlooks, and interests working together and compromising with respect.

The real key to making a relationship work, especially between disparate individuals, is compromise. One of the biggest keys to successful compromise is knowing which things NOT to do or say to make your partner transform from a caring companion into a dueling partner.

To successfully negotiate these often landmine filled fields is a harrowing experience UNLESS you and your partner set boundaries early on in your relationship. This seems to be a simple thing to do, yet it can lead to all sorts of problems on it's own.

The first thing to do is to sit down with your partner and discuss the things that some people refer to as "hot buttons". Tell your partner clearly what your buttons are, and listen closely to what your partner has to say. Pay very, very close attention.

More often than not, these boundaries will usually be ones that require you both to hammer out a few details on the spot. Remember that for boundaries to work they have to be clear, reasonable, and agreed upon willingly by both parties. Expect boundaries to be challenged, and be ready to back up crossing the line with consequences. An example might be "We agreed that if you were coming home late and you didn't call you would have to fix your own dinner." No call, no dinner.

There is also the very real possibility that your partner will get bossy at this point and demand you accede to their boundaries but they give only vague, noncommital answers to your boundaries (or even worse, outright refusal). If this is the case, stick to the give and take idea. If they don't, then you'll be better off ending this early and save yourself the headache of a high maintenance and frustrating relationship

The important thing with establishing boundaries is that early on, you both become fully aware of the things that seriously annoy the other and start to work out ways to keep things running smoothly. You can even work out a personal system for reminding each other when you or she are getting close to pushing a "hot button".

Lastly, after working out the initial details, you should remember that you will probably only cover the major issues and some minor but naggingly prominent ones in your first talk regarding boundaries. You can't possibly cover everything, so keep in mind that you'll need to have more periodic talks about pet peeves and such later on. Don't rest on your laurels after the first talk because the longer you wait to establish some sort of limits and boundaries, the fewer times arguments will escalate.
About the Author
Pick up your Free Recovery Rolodex, Over 97 pages of self help and recovery tips, resources and links to enhance your life in better relationships.The author, Bill Urell MA.CAAP-II, is an addictions therapist at a leading drug rehab. He teaches healthy life styles and life skills. Tell your story! Visit: http://www.AddictionRecoveryBasics.com/
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