“Yes” Doesn’t Count if you can’t say “No” – Why Clear Boundaries are Important in Intimate Relationships

English: A young woman and man embracing while...

I found this over at Psychology Today:

Most people think of an ideal romantic relationship as a union of two inseparable beings forged into one heart, one mind, and one dream. If either partner has a conflicting desire, he or she too often does not express it. They consciously or unconsciously choose to protect the fantasy of perfect compatibility, but may not realize the limitations that are wedded to that decision.
Eventual conflicts are not as noticeable early when relationships are new. The joy of new discovery and lustful connection often eclipse any disagreements that might arise. Newly-in-love partners too often do not want to know anything about each other that could threaten the perfection they cherish. Both may choose to leave well enough alone even if the result is incomplete or inauthentic communication. In the void of unexpressed conflicts, the partners often want to maintain the illusion of a perfect match.

“He finishes my sentences before I even know what I’m going to say.”

“She anticipates what I want before I tell her.”

“We agree on everything. It’s amazing.”

“It’s so easy to be together. We love all the same things.”

Sadly, those constructed realities of perfect compatibility cannot sustain over time. People cannot feel genuinely loved if their partners are not aware of the other’s core feelings and desires. They can only keep renewing their love if they can face their conflicts openly and work through them.

That requires that both partners are willing to follow these six principles:

They are able to say what they need from their partners

They know what they are able to offer

They honestly share those thoughts and feelings

They listen to their partner’s needs without becoming defensive

They have or are willing to learn the skills to negotiate their differences

They respect each other’s conflicting desires

To make these principles work, partners must be clear from the beginning of their relationship to set clear boundaries that they both agree to honor. Boundaries are like the borders between countries. They can be barriers to communication and cooperation, or viable interfaces for exchanging ideas and resources.

When beautifully used in intimate relationships, they are symbolic lines of demarcation that help partners understand their differences while they seek whatever ways are necessary to authentically connect. Only the acceptance of those known similarities and differences can keep partners truly validating their mutual needs.

Healthy boundaries should be fluid and openly susceptible to changes by either partner during any time in their relationship. They hopefully know or are willing to learn what is personally important to them and make every effort to share those thoughts with each other. By working together over time, they learn to quickly recognize when they are in agreement, when they need to negotiate, and when they must turn down a request that could destroy their personal integrity.” Get more here: “Yes” Doesn’t Count if you can’t say “No” – Why Clear Boundaries are Important in Intimate Relationships | Psychology Today.

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