The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
The conversation around mental health is expanding, and Gen-Z is championing the use of boundaries as a tool for healthier relationships and more peace of mind.
Put simply, boundaries draw the line between what is and isn’t acceptable in a relationship. If used correctly, they can bring people closer and increase feelings of mutual respect. The following tips come from my personal experiences. Here are five boundaries that could help you improve your relationships with others, and your relationship with yourself!
1) Time Boundaries
You’ve seen your friend more often this week and while they seem ready to keep spending time together, you’ve started to daydream about having a self-care day. You could agree to hang out knowing that you won’t enjoy it, or you could set a boundary — honoring your need to rest and sparing your friend from hanging out with someone who doesn’t really want to be there.
What this boundary could sound like: I need to stay in and rest today, but thank you for thinking of me! (Optional) Let’s hang out on ____.
On the flip side: I know you’ve been super busy. Do you have time to hang out this week, or would another week work better?
Easy peasy! Time boundaries let your friends know what kind of availability to expect from you and make space for much-needed rest.
2) Boundaries ArounD Emotional Capacity
We care about our friends, and we want them to feel supported. That said, we can’t support our friends if our own emotional needs aren’t met. Setting limits on how much support you can give your friends protects your mental wellbeing and keeps the friendship further from codependency — where one person depends excessively on another for emotional fulfillment.
What this boundary could sound like: I’m really sorry to hear about ____, but I’m not in a place to talk about this right now. Can we talk about this later?
On the flip side: Can I vent to you about ____?
3) Conversational Boundaries
We don’t want to shut our loved ones out, but something that feels totally normal to talk about for us may be a sore subject for someone else. We can be open and honest while understanding that what we say to each other (and how we say it!) is important.
What this boundary could sound like: Conversations around food can be tricky for me. Is it okay if we don’t talk about calories or dieting?
On the flip side: Is it okay if we talk about ____?
4) Boundaries Around Our Belongings
Many of us live in shared spaces, and conversations around shared belongings can get awkward if we don’t set clear boundaries. This can be daunting, but it’s always better to set a boundary than let unspoken feelings simmer until we reach a boiling point. Picture this: you’ve agreed to share your beauty cabinet with your roommate, you’re late for a (very important) date, and your straightener is nowhere to be found.
What this boundary could sound like: If you use my straightener, can you put it back in the same spot where I usually leave it?
On the flip side: How do you think we should share our ____?
5) Boundaries With Ourselves
Surprise! Boundaries with ourselves are (IMHO) the most important and most commonly neglected form of boundaries out there. These are the boundaries that keep us from staying up too late, splurging on things we may not need, and spending time with people we know make us feel bad. Your relationship with yourself is sacred — protect it and respect it!
What this boundary could sound like: I will not spend time with people who consistently violate my boundaries.
I hope these boundaries help improve your relationships with friends, family, and yourself!