How to Set and Maintain Boundaries

Our boundaries are only as strong as our ability to set and maintain them.

How to Set and Maintain Boundaries

Below are some tips to communicate boundaries:

  1. Be clear: As discussed in the communication section, be confident and clear in communicating your needs and limits. It’s best not to hope or expect your partner to read your mind. Remember, asserting your boundaries is not selfish; it is a necessary act of self-care and self-respect.
    1. Instead of saying things like “maybe we should…” or “I think it might be helpful to…”, try to state your wants and needs more directly. 
  2. Be specific: Identify specific behaviours, actions, or situations that you find acceptable or unacceptable. Be clear about what you’re comfortable with and what crosses the line. 
  3. Offer reassurance: While we may think that our partner would have no problem with the boundary in mind, it’s important to consider any sensitivities they may have. 
    1. For example, we may want to explain that something is not personal and reassure our partners of our care for them when setting a boundary. 
  4. Be willing to compromise (wisely): Seek middle ground, when possible, and be open to finding solutions that honour both partners’ needs.
  5. Be reflective: As relationships evolve and circumstances change, it’s important to reassess and adjust boundaries accordingly. 

Let’s consider an example to see how these are put into action.

Avery likes to have some time alone after work to decompress, but Taylor usually wants to talk right away. Avery knows that this sometimes irritates him and doesn’t want to get mad at Taylor.

Be Clear

Avery tells Taylor that he needs to have down time after work, rather than just hinting at the topic by bringing up how decompressing after work with TV is nice.

Be Specific

Avery states that he needs half an hour after he gets home from work to relax and rest. 

Offer Reassurance

Avery reassures Taylor that he loves spending time together and wants to make it a priority to hear about their day at work. So, he sets aside time every day after his 30-minute rest to catch up.

Be Willing to Compromise (Wisely)

Avery then adds that if Taylor is having a bad day or really needs to talk right away, that they can talk then.

Be Reflective

Avery sets a reminder in his phone to check in with Tayor in a couple of weeks to see how the new after-work routine is working for both of them.

Common Boundary Issues

In relationships, it’s common to face challenges when it comes to setting boundaries. Understanding these issues and their impact is crucial for building healthier connections. 

Feeling guilty for saying “no”

We may fear disappointing our partner by adhering to our boundaries, but helping our partner understand why we have established the boundary can help alleviate this fear.

Setting vague boundaries

Without clear boundaries, your partner may unknowingly overstep or disregard your needs. 


Co-dependency occurs when boundaries become blurred, and individuals become overly reliant on each other for validation, identity, or emotional well-being. This can lead to a loss of independence, reduced self-esteem, and difficulties in making autonomous decisions.

Trouble compromising/finding common ground

Relationships require compromise, and this applies to boundaries as well. Understand that both you and your partner have unique perspectives and needs. Seek common ground where both parties feel respected and heard. Look for solutions that allow each of you to feel comfortable and secure.

Difficulties with empathy

 Both you and your partner should try your best to see things from each other’s perspectives. If you’re having trouble understanding your partner, ask questions to try to get a better idea of what exactly they want and why it is important to them. 

Pushing or pressuring each other

It’s important to refrain from pressuring each other to change boundaries or make each other feel guilty for having them. Both partners’ boundaries are valid and should be respected and honoured. Respect each other’s autonomy and rights to establish limits that make you both feel safe and comfortable.

By working together, couples can create a relationship that honours both individuals’ needs and promotes mutual growth and happiness.

The next page will help you to practice creating healthy boundaries with your partner. 


Men's Health Week takes place annually in mid-June, during the week preceding Father’s Day. The week is not just a campaign, but a call to action for men to take better care of their health and for communities to support men in this endeavour.

Men's Health Week 2024