Suppose you do not have clear, healthy boundaries in dealing with others. In that case, you will often be dissatisfied; you will feel that others do not value you enough, that you tolerate too much, or that others exploit you, experience a lot of anger. Sometimes it manifests in many psychosomatic diseases.

For the sake of physical and mental health that determines the quality of our lives, clear boundaries play a significant role.

The condition for a healthy quality and fulfilled life are healthy boundaries in interpersonal relationships.

Talking from personal experience, setting boundaries is not an easy task, especially if you are not used to practicing it for most of your life.

Because rarely has anyone taught us how we should treat ourselves or others, to what extent we should take care of ourselves and our needs, and how flexible, tolerant, or harmonized we should be with other people.

In practice, I have often met people who set their boundaries too rigidly or those who do not have set limits; that is, they are very loose. Both were dissatisfied with the way other people treated their relationships.

The former believe that if they have a specific idea, behavior, idea that other people do not automatically adapt, they become dissatisfied with their relationships and the situation that does not go according to their expectations.

Also, the other type, who has no clear boundaries, is often frustrated because others do not notice how much they do for them, how much he tolerates or fulfills their desires.

Essentially, if we want to be satisfied in interpersonal relationships, which greatly determine the fulfillment of our lives, we must set clear boundaries in relation to others.

What are not healthy boundaries?

The fact is that others will not always agree with us, nor will we agree with them.

Too rigid boundaries- Unhealthy boundaries

People who set rigid boundaries start from the conclusion of the conscious or subconscious that they are the most important in the universe, i.e., indeed, everything revolves around them in their universe, but not in other people’s lives. Sometimes it is also a sign of unhealthy narcissism.

Yet, by setting their rigid boundaries to others, their motto is My way or the highway, and that the role of other people is to adapt to them and their needs exclusively. These people are often very selfish, often with a lack of empathy and hearing for other people. And most often, as well as people with loose borders, full of fears.

How does it look like in practice: One of my friends has too rigid boundaries, above all, his hobbies. And that’s OK; he can manage his time as he sees fit, just like all of us. It is quite OK to have his hobby and the time he dedicates to it. His hobby is sacred, but he imposes that it should be the same for his girlfriend with his behavior.

That’s where we come to the problem. His hobby is not sacred to her, and it should not be; she has her time, hobbies, and needs. However, its rigidity significantly disrupts their mutual relationship. And here’s how. All joint activities revolve exclusively around him. Only when he finishes his hobby at 10 pm can they go to dinner, which is a problem for her, because she has dinner earlier. Also, planning a joint vacation comes down to looking for locations where he can practice his hobby, and when they go on vacation, 90% of the activities are focused on his wishes and needs. At the same time, he never wants to adjust to her wishes. On the other hand, she chooses to have dinner earlier, not go on joint vacations, and that will consequently exclude their typical time and mutual connection, which will no longer exist.

Ideally, the couples or friends have the same hobbies, like dining at the same time, like the same shows, have the same taste, breathing simultaneously, and live happily ever after. Such a silent relationship exists only in fairy tales. However, it is questionable there as well, because we never read about that happy life until the end of their lives, but only at the beginning.

If you want quality connections and relationships, you need to invest time, energy in any relationship, clear communication and set healthy boundaries.

People with rigid boundaries will be frustrated when the other person does not want to fulfill their wishes constantly. And the other person will not be able to continually maintain that pace, of maximum adaptation to other people’s needs. Such a relationship may survive for a while, but only for a limited period unless healthy boundaries are set.

Imagine having a friend who calls you only when it suits him; you are in places that he likes, at a time when it is convenient for him, without offering alternatives for your time and needs. You will have a choice, or you will sometimes hang out with such a friend if your times, lives, obligations coincide at that very moment, or you will stop hanging out.

Of course, this kind of relationship will continue, in a very unhealthy direction, if you are constantly there when it doesn’t suit you, and it only works for him. If you agree to something like that, you are most likely afraid of something, say your opinion, or not to lose that friend; you simply do not have clear boundaries.

People with rigid boundaries also talk exclusively about themselves or their problems in conversations, without listening to others, without asking how you are or what’s new with you. If you do not establish boundaries towards yourself and them, you will undoubtedly suffer in such a relationship.

An example of healthy boundaries is when I have a yoga class twice a week for an hour, and I strictly stick to not missing a class. It is my activity; yoga and exercise are essential items in my life, time, and the training that fulfills me. On the other hand, if one of my friends invites me to see them for coffee, I will communicate that I cannot believe in that term but am open to agreeing on another day or hour. I don’t expect others to adapt to me, and neither do I to them, exclusively, but there is certainly a mutual agreement.

The opposite would be if I only expected my friends have coffee with me exclusively on Tuesdays and Thursdays after my yoga. Or in the absence of boundaries, I would neglect my activities and desires and maximally adjust to my friends.

Rigid bounderies are too much of it, while loss ones are enough.

Healthy borders mean both sides.

The essence of interpersonal relationships is a common understanding, equal exchange, energy, time, giving, and receiving. If there is an imbalance in one of these elements, one side will always be dissatisfied.

Selfishness is when you put your needs above everyone’s needs and communicate by your behavior that your needs are more important than another person’s needs and should be more important to that other person.

There is mine, yours, and shared.

The background of our constraints is often FEAR.

Having loose or rigid boundaries has its background in fears we are not aware of.

· Fear of rejection

· Fear of losing control

· Fear that others will not love us

· Fear that we will be victims

Which of your Fear is dominant?

For people who have rigid boundaries, it is the Fear of losing control, while for those who have loose boundaries, it can be the Fear of rejection.

Realize that Fear. What are you afraid of if you loosen your boundaries a little with rigid ones or if you tighten them with loose ones?

What is the worst that can happen

What can best happen

How much better your relationship will improve if you establish clear boundaries

In my friend’s case, he could maintain and have a better relationship with his girlfriend in the long run, which will be satisfied because they agreed on joint activities.

In the case of tightening boundaries, with people who have loose boundaries, you will benefit from greater fulfillment and satisfaction, feelings of greater respect, better organization of time, and fulfillment.

How to set healthy boundaries and improve your relationships

In setting healthy boundaries throughout my life, it often happened to me that it came from interruptions, unhealthy love, friendship, and business relationships. These relationships primarily functioned and lasted, as long as they lasted, as long as I wholly adjusted to others, worked on the relationship, without the same engagement of another person, and to the extent that it didn’t suit me. It used to be procrastination and thinking – it doesn’t matter, he’s still a good friend, avoiding a little more unpleasant conversations, and a lot of neglecting myself and my needs.

On the other hand, subconsciously fulfilling the need for everyone to love me, to think I’m good, friendly, and kind, and that someone will notice it, and how I might get a reward for it.

1. Communicate your needs, wants, interests, needs

Communicate your needs clearly. Before you expect other people to notice something and magically change their behavior, you need to explain and clarify your needs to them while respecting their needs as well.

If you want someone to treat you differently, communicate that.

Start with yourself! With sentencies as with I feel … This or that suits me. This is important to me. How about we do something like this together? And suggest another option, give an idea, your expectation, give a proposal for joint action.

People don’t react well if you start a sentence aimed at their personality, behavior when you say YOU …because They feel attacked.

After all, why would you expect someone to behave in any way if you didn’t communicate it clearly to them?

We are all focused on our needs, and that is verzžy human and natural.

2. It is not only important what you say, but also HOW you say it

Each of us has the right to our own opinion, behavior, and beliefs. If you disagree with another person on anything, it doesn’t mean you or she is right, and it doesn’t have to be a rude or unkind conversation.

If a friend offers you to go to the cinema and have something else planned or you don’t watch that movie, you don’t have to answer: I don’t want to go to the cinema. I don’t care about that movie. How dare you call me something like that?

You can convey the same message if you say: Thank you for the invitation; I’m not a fan of that genre of film, but we can look at something else if you want. Or Thank you for the invitation, I would love to go to the cinema, but tonight I have already planned to work. We can go to the movies next week.

3. Have understanding for others

It is essential to understand other people, but that does not mean you should agree with them or act by their opinions.

Other people have a right to their opinion and behavior. If you think they are threatening you with their behavior or not responding to you, you have the right to react and disagree.

4. Be determined; it is important to know what you want.

Agree to what extent you want or can adjust until you can’t or don’t want to.

To what extent will you be dissatisfied.

Then you will know what is essential to you, what there is no compromise for you, what you can adjust.

5. Take responsibility for yourself, your needs, desires.

If it doesn’t suit you at all that a business partner calls you late at night, that person continues to contact you, even though you have communicated it in a clear way. One option is to turn off the phone and not answer it. Yes, someone will say that is unreasonable; another person can get angry, it is not polite, BUT

We always have a choice, in our opinion, in our behavior. If we always behave the same and expect different results, it is pure madness – as Einstein says.

Don’t take responsibility for yourself and your life if you are still dissatisfied; you haven’t told the person not to call you late, you keep calling and talking for an hour,

6. Be prepared for failure

The fact is that other people will not always agree with you. Although you tell someone the most likable and kindest thing, it doesn’t suit me that we go everywhere in my car. How about we go to your car tomorrow.

If other people can’t accept setting your healthy boundaries, then it’s time to rethink your relationship.

Every relationship, business or private, has its dynamics, which can sometimes be unpleasant communication. And that is quite OK, because we cannot always think the same way or behave identically as another person, we are all individuals for ourselves, with our own desires and needs.

If you set healthy boundaries and communicate your needs clearly and assertively, and the other person still gets angry or does not want to accept your new behavior, that is his right.

On the other hand, if your relationship can’t withstand a little discomfort, then you most probably need to rethink your relationship. Are you able to move on or not?

How do you set boundaries?


  • Dr. Aleksandra Plazinic

    Executive Communications Coach, University Lecturer, Ph.D. Communications

    With a Ph.D. in communications, two master's degrees, being certified NLP coach and trainer, lecturer, and consultant with vast international professional experience in business consultancy, international organizations: European Commission, United Nations, non-profit organizations, and University setting, I worked with professionals from all over the world and helped them advance in their careers and personal lives by overcoming the fears, building their self-confidence and developing their public speaking and communication skills.