Whether you're newly connected to your sweetie, or nurturing a decade long relationship, good boundaries are key to helping your romance flourish.
So what exactly are boundaries? How can two people grow closer by actually taking some space for themselves?
For some people, the word "boundaries" may evoke images of fences, walls, or other forms of divisive separation. However, good boundaries can actually lead to much healthier connections. In a blog post at PsychCentral, relationship therapists define boundaries simply as the place where one partner ends and the other begins. This may sound obvious, but understanding the necessity of boundaries can help avoid codependency, which is a common pitfall of many relationships. Normalizing different opinions, hobbies and values, helps each person to grow and thrive as individuals instead of two halves of one whole.
Boundaries can also be useful when it comes to setting expectations for communication. Experts recommend being clear and direct about your needs, while remaining open to hearing what your partner's needs are as well. Avoid setting "hard and fast" rules, and instead work towards deep understanding of what makes each of you tick. Once you get clear on boundaries, you can better ensure that you'll avoid hurting one another unintentionally or neglecting unspoken needs within the relationship.
Create Mystery for Greater Intimacy
Good boundaries encourage independence, which can also add a surprise spark to even the most staid long-term relationship. In her 2013 TED talk, therapist Esther Perel argues that it is challenging to meet our dual demands for both security and adventure amidst the logistics of daily life. In a romantic relationship with good boundaries, partners can work on developing their inner world and sense of self as an individual who is fully separate from their partner. This independence, when coupled with a deep bedrock of trust, can allow partners to see each other as slightly mysterious and worthy of pursuit. In other words, it's more than okay to not report every detail of your day to your partner when you both get home. Focus on your life, your goals, your pursuits and passions and your partner will naturally become intrigued and curious, which will stoke the intimate passion between the two of you, no matter how many years you've been together or how many children you've had.
Enjoying an exciting, fulfilling relationship means respecting your partner as a unique individual and demanding that same respect in return. Good boundaries can not only help improve your communication, but give your emotional and physical intimacy a boost as well. Work on what matters to you, but be sure to pay proper attention to the interesting, mysterious and passionate person you've fallen in love with—-then get ready for sparks to fly!