Boundaries within a Healthy Relationship
Personal boundaries are limits we use to protect ourselves, and they are formed by having good self-understanding and clear personal values. An important part of respecting yourself and other people is understanding and honoring these boundaries.
Each relationship has its own set of boundaries to be respected. For instance, in a friendship, you and your friend might have an understanding that you can talk on the phone until 11 p.m. If you called your friend at 2 a.m. on a school night, you would not be respecting that boundary.
Part of having boundaries is understanding each other's values. This ensures that you are remaining an individual in the relationship and not changing what you believe based on the other person. Clear boundaries, such as when and in what context you want to become physically intimate in a romantic relationship, help ensure that you are respecting your body and that your partner will respect your values.
It is also important to recognize time and energy boundaries. Spending all of your time with your friends would not be respectful to your family because you wouldn't be putting any energy into those relationships. On the other hand, if your family wants you to spend all of your time at home, that's not respectful of you.
There are some situations, however, in which these boundaries should be crossed, such as when there is a threat to a person's health or life.
As an example, teens have privacy boundaries with their parents. However, if a boy has a growth on his penis or if a girl has pain in her pelvis – possibly because they contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI) – teens should break that privacy boundary and seek guidance and information from parents or other trusted adults.
Often, teens in relationships begin to spend all of their time with one another, foregoing time with family, other friends, and skipping regular activities. Although it might feel good at first to spend all of your time with your new partner, isolating yourself from your friends can actually be unhealthy and bad for your relationship in the long run.
First, having time separate from your partner gives you something to talk about and share with each other the next time you're together. It's also likely that you and your partner have some interests that the other does not share; this is normal. By spending some time apart, you can both pursue the interests that make you unique.
Continuing to spend time with your friends can also help you keep some perspective on your relationship and help your life remain balanced. Should your relationship end, you will probably value having friends for support.
If you cut out your friends with each new relationship and only talk to them in between relationships, you're ignoring your friends' needs and will probably lose their friendships.
Given the short length of many teen relationships and the immense value of friendships, it's much easier to simply preserve your friendships, even when in a relationship.
Just remember: understanding your own and other people's personal boundaries helps define a healthy relationship.
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