Leading Authority in Treatment of Narcissism and Emotional Abuse

(206) 219-0145
Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship

How to Set Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship

Dr. David Hawkins of The Marriage Recovery Center in Seattle Washington tells about how to set healthy boundaries in a relationship. He reminds viewers that healthy boundaries have healthy consequences in that we teach people how to treat us. Utilizing our relationship with them, we can have a powerful impact on how people treat us.

How to Set Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship

Setting healthy boundaries is crucial for maintaining a safe and fulfilling relationship. While there may be confusion surrounding this topic, it is essential to understand the practicality and relevance of boundaries in our lives. By establishing and enforcing boundaries, we can create a manageable and secure environment. In this article, we will explore the concept of healthy boundaries and how they can positively impact our relationships.

Taking Responsibility for Your Own Well-being

In any relationship, the responsibility for ensuring safety, security, and stability lies with each individual involved. While we cannot control others or force them to behave in a certain way, we have control over ourselves. This self-control extends to the level of engagement and sharing we choose with others.

Recognizing the power and influence we possess, we can effectively manage our involvement in a relationship and utilize this power to shape the behavior of others.

The Importance of Self-management

Self-management plays a crucial role in setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. It involves assessing the extent to which we are engaged with another person and utilizing our personal power to influence their behavior. For instance, let’s consider a scenario where a friend repeatedly fails to show up for scheduled lunches. Initially, we may give them the benefit of the doubt, but as the behavior persists, we must question our own contribution to this pattern. By communicating our expectations and requiring a change in behavior, we can influence the dynamics of the friendship. Implementing consequences, such as declining future invitations until the behavior improves, reinforces our boundaries.

Boundaries in Marriage Relationships

Applying boundaries in a marriage relationship becomes even more significant. To positively impact and influence our partners, we must recognize our role in teaching them how to treat us. Similar to the earlier example, if our spouse engages in unhealthy behaviors, it is essential to intervene and bring about a change. By utilizing our relational nature, care, and affection, we possess the means to influence their behavior. However, it is crucial to establish consequences for violating boundaries, as boundaries without consequences lack effectiveness.

Identifying the Behavior to Modify

Before initiating any intervention, it is crucial to clearly identify the behavior we wish to modify. For instance, if our partner frequently resorts to swearing during arguments, and this behavior deeply upsets us, we must express our concerns. A simple conversation might be sufficient to address the issue, given the empathetic response and willingness of our partner to change. However, if the behavior persists, a more significant level of intervention may be necessary.

Gradually Increasing the Level of Intervention

The level of emotional intervention required to modify a behavior varies depending on the situation. Starting with open and honest communication, we express our feelings and expectations to our partner. Consistency in reinforcing our boundaries through gentle reminders might be adequate for some individuals.

However, for more stubborn cases, a gradual increase in the severity of consequences may be necessary. This can include withholding emotional closeness, attachment, and affection. While this approach may seem manipulative, it reinforces our self-respect and demonstrates the seriousness of our boundaries.

Taking Steps to Enforce Boundaries

Enforcing boundaries may require progressive measures. If the behavior persists despite communication and initial consequences, it might be necessary to take more substantial steps.

These could involve spending a night, weekend, or even a week apart from the person in question. In extreme cases, such as emotional abuse or physical violence, it may be essential to remove oneself from the relationship entirely. By creating distance, we highlight the impact of their actions and allow for a potential breakthrough in their behavior.

The Breakdown that Leads to the Breakthrough

It is important to understand that enforcing boundaries can lead to temporary breakdowns in relationships. However, this breakdown often paves the way for a breakthrough. By upholding our boundaries and demanding respectful treatment, we encourage others to modify their behavior. In doing so, relationships have the potential to grow healthier, more loving, and more fulfilling.

In conclusion, setting healthy boundaries is crucial for establishing and maintaining fulfilling relationships. By taking responsibility for our own well-being, managing our engagement with others, and utilizing our influence, we can teach people how to treat us in a healthier and more loving manner.

It is essential to identify the behaviors we wish to modify and gradually increase the level of intervention to enforce our boundaries effectively. Although enforcing boundaries may result in temporary breakdowns, it can ultimately lead to breakthroughs and more respectful relationships.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: How to Stop Fighting in Your Marriage

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.


Sign up our newsletter to get updated information, promo or insight for free.

Latest Post


Need Help?
Get The Support You Need From One Of Our Therapists