Male Bonding Advice: Setting and Maintaining Boundaries in Relationships
Boundaries are a necessary element of any healthy relationship. They prevent relationships from going in directions that cause disaster. But setting boundaries can be difficult. It can be an uncomfortable conversation, especially if you’re unsure how the other person will respond.  Here are some tips on how to set boundaries, and maintain them so your relationships continue to thrive.

Why Relationships Need Boundaries

They help keep your relationships healthy. They define the relationship and keep it going in a specific direction until you’re ready to change the direction. Do you want the relationship limited to the role of, “sports buddy?” Set a boundary. Are you constrained on time? Set a boundary. When you’re unsure where you stand with someone, set a boundary to make it clear. That way, the relationship can progress without ambiguity. They promote communication. Any thriving relationship has to foster open communication. Setting boundaries let the other person know you value communication, and respect it as a way of getting things done. People tend to create their own expectations. But doing so causes all kinds of problems in relationships. Talking about them and forming boundaries keeps expectations in check.

They force you to take responsibility for your own role in the relationship. If you’re uncomfortable with something, take control and let the other person know. Otherwise, the relationship will spiral out of control, and you’ll lose it. Setting a boundary is a healthy way of avoiding that drama and keeping them in your life. You’ll improve the relationship, and become a stronger person. The courage that comes with learning to set boundaries can carry over into other parts of your life. Go ahead, ask for that raise you’ve been wanting.

How To Set Boundaries

First, you have to know what your boundaries are. It can be different with each relationship. You’ll know because something about the relationship makes you uncomfortable. Instead of ignoring it, take some time to think about why you’re uncomfortable.

When you talk to them, be clear and direct. Don’t skirt the issue, say what your boundaries are. Give them a reason for the boundaries if you can. Be assertive; if they push back, repeat yourself. Boundaries are important don’t take no for an answer. For a healthy relationship, both of you must be okay with the boundaries.

Be compassionate. It can be hard to hear boundaries. Offer a compliment before or after you drop the news. Tell them they’re important to you. The whole reason you’re setting boundaries is that you value the relationship. Remind them of that.

How To Maintain Boundaries

Check in with them once in a while. Make sure everyone is still on board with the boundaries you’ve set (and the boundaries they’ve set). Maintaining boundaries is as important as setting them. Talking about boundaries gives you an opportunity to connect and bond.

Stick to your boundaries. If you set a boundary and do something different, you’re sending mixed signals. Doing that can jeopardize the relationship. Think about what you may be doing and make adjustments if need be. Or reconsider your boundaries.

Boundaries can be anything. They may be physical, like needing space. Or they could be emotional, like not wanting to hear a certain subject matter. A boundary can be anything you want. The point of maintaining boundaries is to keep your relationships closer, so they can flourish for many years to come.