Welcome to TPC Dating and Relationships, a column in which we will give advice and information on relationships, sex, consent and more. No question is off limits.
Have a question about sex, wellness, identity, relationships, or more that you'd like us to answer? Send it in here.
What are personal boundaries?
Personal boundaries are about understanding and respecting our own needs by creating a physical or emotional space between ourselves and others. Simply put, boundaries are a form of self respect.
Why are boundaries important?
Boundaries allow you to feel respected in relationships, whether it is with a family member, a friend, or a partner. Setting boundaries is important in all relationships in life.
Depending on the type of relationship we have with the other person, boundaries take different forms.
Physical boundaries refer to your personal space, your body, property, and your privacy. For example, your comfort level with receiving physical touch like a hug, a kiss, or holding hands. You may also want your physical possessions like your phone to not be touched by others.
Emotional boundaries refer to your emotions and feelings. For example, you might take a while to open up to a new friend, partner, or family member about certain topics. Having good emotional boundaries means never feeling forced or forced upon with words that make you feel uncomfortable.
Sexual boundaries refer to what one feels comfortable doing in a sexual relationship. For example, one may choose to only engage in non-penetrative sex in a relationship, like kissing, cuddling, and having oral sex. Sexual boundaries are necessary to talk about in any sexual relationship and using sexual consent is a great way of learning about you or your partner's sexual boundaries.
How do I set personal boundaries?
Sometimes a person can feel afraid to set boundaries with others - as Professor Brenee Brown puts it, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others." But know that the only way to ensure your boundaries are made and kept is by communicating them to others, even when it might feel hard! Everyone is allowed to set their own boundaries - whenever and whenever. So, how exactly do we make boundaries - and make sure we stay true to them? Let's break it down a bit more:
Follow these 3 steps to set and keep a personal boundary
Defining what that boundary is.
Example: “I feel uncomfortable with kissing and holding hands with my partner in public.”
Communicating the boundary.
Example: Telling your partner, “Hey, I have been feeling a bit uncomfortable when we are intimate in public, we will need to keep our physical contact like kissing and holding hands for when we are in private.”
Set consequences if that boundary is crossed.
Example: “If you don’t respect this boundary, I will end this relationship."