How to Respect Boundaries

In many intimate relationships, especially with friends and partners, we get used to them doing certain things and playing certain roles in our lives. When those people decide they need to stop doing those things or playing those roles, it can be difficult at first. We might take it personally and think “Why are they suddenly not helping me in the way they used to? Isn’t that what a good (friend, parent, partner) should do?”

Over time, people change, and so relationships change. This is natural and normal. Know that they are creating a new boundary to protect themselves, their time, and energy in some way. It might have little to do with you, it might be all about their levels of availability, feelings of overwhelm, or mental health. 

In these situations, it can be useful to have a mental list of go-to phrases. In the moment we might need to parent ourselves inwardly and get curious about why the person is putting this boundary in place. Is there something you can learn from this situation? Might this dynamic be playing out in other relationships in your life where the person has struggled to speak up.

When we struggle to speak up and put healthy boundaries in place, sometimes there will be a huge fight that ends the relationship. Better to have the difficult conversation than lose the relationship. This is all part of the healing journey.

How to Respect Boundaries 

“I hear what you are saying, and I respect your decision”
“Yes, no problem”
“You are right, I shouldn’t have done that”
“I can work with that”
“I respect that”
“I am struggling with that boundary, but I respect it”
“I am happy to give you space”
“Yes, sorry if I have overstepped the mark in the past”
“I hear how you have been feeling and I won’t do that anymore”