Break Free from Relationship Limbo

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So the story goes, boy meets girl, or boy, or girl meets girl – or some version of the sort.  You date, maybe you fall in love, maybe you don’t.  Either way, as you travel through life together, unbeknownst to you, your partner decides to disembark the love train, leaving you single, grieving, and possibly pining.

In your new singlehood, you may reconnect with friends for a night out searching for your next sexual encounter, eat your way through a pint of two of Ben & Jerry’s, maybe you decide to finally train for that half marathon you’ve always wanted to run, or simply try to better yourself.  As you grieve, and possibly dedicate yourself to being the best version of you, you slowly get over your ex.  You start feeling like yourself again, and then it happens: the contact.  It could be a simple text inquiring about how you’re doing, a phone call, or an email.  Nevertheless, you’re curious.

You and your ex meet up, you talk, reminisce, and those feelings come flooding back.  While you’re thinking my ex must have missed me, you’re being told, “You’re so great, but I’m really not ready for a relationship yet.”  Because of that "yet", you two decide you can be friends and you fall back into old patterns.  You laugh about inside jokes, he watches your dog for you while you go out of town, she accompanies you to a work gathering, you two feel like a couple, but you’re not.  You are in relationship limbo and you ex wants to know how far you will go.

Will you sleep together without the commitment?  Will you still water his plants or take care of her cat while she’s out of town?  Will you listen as he vents about his boss or she cries after a rough day at work?  Your ex is testing this boundary, figuring out how to keep you in his or her life without having to commit to a relationship.

Overall, your ex was missing the companionship of a relationship, but probably not missing you. just not that into you.”  In fact, your ex is probably actively dating and hanging out with you to fill up some free, lonely time.  Unfortunately, as you’re thinking it could lead to you two reuniting, you are actually being used.  You have become your ex’s emotional crutch.  You are there when it is convenient for him or her, but your texts are rarely responded to, there isn’t cuddling after sex, and you two never spend the night together.  Even if you two aren’t sleeping together, your sole purpose is to provide comfort and support until a new partner comes along to fulfill that role.  And when your ex finally finds someone new, you will have to start the grieving process all over.  However, to avoid months of agony, you have the choice to break out of relationship limbo and keep your mental well-being intact. While your ex is telling you he or she isn’t ready for a relationship, what you are really being told is, to quote Greg Behrendt, I’m “

Is It or Isn’t It?


Maybe you’re thinking, this isn’t me, I’m not stuck in relationship limbo.  If you’re comfortable with the way the relationship is going, you probably aren’t stuck in relationship limbo.  If you understand you and your ex may never get back together, or maybe you have no desire of reuniting and you are also dating, then you might be comfortable spending time with your ex until you find a committed partner.  However, if you’re not comfortable, proceed with caution.  You need to decide how important you are to yourself; if you’re not treating yourself with respect, your ex won’t show you the respect you deserve.

It’s Not Me, It’s You 


If you are in relationship limbo, try not to blame yourself. Blame your ex instead. Chances are your ex is emotionally needy and doesn’t like being alone.  You, unfortunately, were the easy target, possibly because you were vulnerable after the break up.  If you are hoping your ex will eventually come to his or her senses and see you for the catch you are, but you are being told some version of “you’re amazing, but,” it’s time for you to put yourself first and consider your wants and needs.

Cutting Off Contact


Keep in mind, your life isn’t a made for TV drama.  More than likely, you and your ex  won’t smoothly transition from dating to just friends.  And, unfortunately, the best way to avoid getting in too deep and hurting yourself more is to completely end the relationship, including sex and trying to be friends.  Although it may be difficult because of the history you two share, you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who wants you, not with someone who will use you to meet his or her own needs.  Whether or not you decide to explain this to your ex it’s time to end all contact.  No more texts, FaceBook messages, emails, or phone calls.  In fact, it’s probably best to delete your ex from all forms of social media.

Do not set yourself up to be used by your ex.  While breakups are difficult and you may find yourself missing your ex, but you deserve to be more than a booty call and someone’s emotional crutch.  It is possible that your ex may contact you and genuinely want to rekindle the flame.  However if you are being fed lines, your ex is more than likely trying to pull you into relationship limbo.  If you hate games, ignore your ex’s advances.  In time, the two of you may be able to be friends, but anything immediately after the breakup may be harmful to your overall well-being.



Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor and Intern for The Marriage and Family Clinic. As a marriage and family counselor, she helps couples navigate the many difficulties that arise in a relationship; simultaneously helping them cultivate happiness to maintain the fulfilling relationship they share with their partner. 

Mental Health and Your Child Part 1: Finding a Therapist

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Making the decision to take your child to counseling can be overwhelming. Mental health care can be tough to navigate with its many options and can be intimidating for families just starting down this path. In this series, I’ll attempt to clarify some questions that come up most often when families decide to seek support in counseling. Tough questions will be answered like “where do I find a therapist?”, “what am I even looking for?”, and “does my child need a diagnosis?” Let’s start with the first step of finding a therapist that’s a good fit for your child and family.

If you’re considering counseling, something could be going better for your child and family and I commend you for seeking support. Making that decision can be scary but also exciting as you seek out a counselor to support positive changes. At this point you might be asking yourself “Now what?” as the options seem overwhelming and it’s not exactly clear where to start. Here are some first steps to finding a counselor:

Finding a Great Therapist for Your Child


 Insurance or EAP. If you wish to use your mental health benefits through your insurance or EAP program, it can be time saving for you to check with them first for an appropriate referral. There may be limited options in your area and you might be limited to a certain number of sessions that they will cover. They also might reimburse a certain percentage of sessions with an “out of network” provider if your future counselor is willing to provide them with certain information. There are pros and cons to using your insurance and these can also be discussed with your future counselor whether they accept your insurance or not. An EAP program might also offer sessions for families and children as part of your benefits. Calling them directly and asking exactly what can be covered can help clarify some questions for you and might narrow your search for a counselor.

Referrals. Talking about mental health can sometimes be a taboo topic. But in reality, a lot of people have or will have experience with a counselor at some point in their lives. Anestimated 59 million adults are involved in therapy! Asking friends or family about their experiences can help you make decisions about who in your area might be a good fit. School counselors and teachers are also a great resource for counselors in your area. Many will know a good therapist in the area who works with children. If you have a connection to a therapist that you already like and connect to, such as your own marriage counselor or individual counselor, he or she will also usually be able to provide you with a referral to a counselor who works with children and families.

The internet. An internet search can be intimidating but also provide a wealth of information in just a short amount of time. Doing a simple search like “child counselor” in your town will return with potential counselors who work with children in your area. Other sites like psychologytoday.com and therapistlocator.net also allow you to search for free for a counselor in your area that specifically works with children.


So what am I looking for anyways? In the next part of this series we’ll talk about what questions to ask your future counselor and what all those letters mean behind their names. Utilizing the above resources will help you to find a counselor that specializes in working specifically with children and their families. Not every counselor works with children or families and this can be critical to feeling like it’s a good fit. You have taken the first step toward you child’s and family’s success in making positive changes!
Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life

Stop Damaging Your Relationship: 3 Options Instead of an Ultimatum

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In your relationship, whether past or present, you may have found yourself overly frustrated and exhausted by your partners behaviors, feeling you only have one option: the ultimatum.  For instance, if your partner does not stop abusing drugs or alcohol, start helping around the house or with the children, or end a relationship that is impacting the bond you share, you will leave. The principle of your ultimatum implies that you are leaving the relationship unless your specified need is met.  However, with most ultimatums, you are actually asking your partner to change because you are not ready to end the relationship.  This is where the ultimatum falls through and ultimately damages your relationship.  Ultimatums imply finality.

When you do not follow through on your threat, you are teaching your partner that his or her behavior is actually okay, therefore suggesting the issue is no longer a problem for you.  However, if an ultimatum is declared and behavior does not change, you are left with the unresolved issue and feelings of resentment – resenting your partner for not changing and yourself for staying in a relationship that does not fully meet your needs.  Over time, these feelings of resentment, and possibly anger, will poison your relationship, ultimately compromising your bond.  Before reaching the breaking point where your partnership becomes irreparable, considered the following suggestions in lieu of an ultimatum.  

Teach Your Partner How to Treat You


When you teach your partner how to treat you, you are setting boundaries.  Modeling to your partner what is and is not acceptable in your relationship, by simply respecting the boundaries you set, you are ultimately drawing a line that illustrates how you prefer to be treated and things you will not compromise on.  Through maintaining your own boundaries, your partner should be able to establish a sense of your wants and needs.  However, if your partner is not picking up on your subtle or overt hints, it is time to open the channels of verbal communication.    

Clearly Communicate Your Want and Needs


Essentially, ultimatums are an effort to control your partner.  You are aggressively requesting your needs to be met - or else. Maybe you have communicated these needs numerous times before declaring an ultimatum, and maybe you have not. In your perspective, you have made your needs clear, but unless you explicitly communicated what you want or need in a relationship, your partner may be unaware.


Overall, ultimatums may result because of a breakdown in communication, leaving you feeling unheard.  Next time you feel forced into a corner and see an ultimatum as the only available option, try to clearly communicate your needs to your partner.  This can be as simple as saying, “I would like some extra help with the laundry.  Can you help me fold the clothes tonight?”  With open channels of communication, you are able to share your wants and needs in a calmer, more rational state of mind.  

Work Toward a Compromise


If the behavior is something irritating, but not a deal breaker, use the newly open channels of communication to come to a compromise.  In a relationship there are two people who both have needs; taking your partner’s needs into consideration shows you value them.  As your relationship grows and changes, you need to be flexible enough to renegotiate expectations and rules.  Determine if you are comfortable bending your boundary and what that would look like for you.

However, if your partner’s behavior is absolutely something you cannot compromise on – working
long hours, drug or alcohol abuse, cheating, putting others before your relationship – it may be time for you to consider your own well being and exit the relationship before you find yourself becoming too resentful of your partner.

Remember, a true ultimatum involves you leaving the relationship.  If you and your partner have reached a breaking point and an ultimatum is your only option, you must be prepared to follow through if changes are not made.  If you are not ready to end the relationship, an ultimatum will only damage your relationship, and there are less aggressive avenues to venture down when asking for your needs to be met.    


Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor and Intern for The Marriage and Family Clinic. As a marriage and family counselor, she helps couples navigate the many difficulties that arise in a relationship; simultaneously helping them cultivate happiness to maintain the fulfilling relationship they share with their partner. 

The Little Things that Make a Big Difference for Marriage

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You want your love to last? Sure, we all do. But not everyone does what it takes to make it happen. Don’t worry--it isn’t big, sweeping changes, lavish anniversary gifts, or exotic getaways that make the difference. Indeed, with our world of constant distraction, marriage experts agree that it’s actually the little things that matter most.

Little Things: Your Thoughts


First, consider how you think about your spouse. Are you grateful for his hard work around the house? Are you glad she takes such great care of the kids? Do you still see the little quirks that you loved when you first met as adorable or have they become annoying? Choosing your lens makes a difference, and we get to choose! When he comes home late, is your first thought that he’s selfish and thoughtless? Or that he must be exhausted from such a big day? When she doesn’t cook dinner, do you think she’s lazy or think about how great she is at helping the kids with homework? How we explain our spouse’s behavior affects our feelings toward our spouse, and our feelings affect our behavior. And our behavior, loving or not, kind or not, understanding or not, directly affects our spouse. Check regularly throughout the day if you are focused on the good things about your spouse and what you are grateful for. If you’re not, then make a quick mental shift--it will make a difference.

Little Things: Your Words



Next, consider the words you use with your spouse. Take a moment to say “I love you” to your husband before he leaves for work--the effect will be more than momentary. Take time to tell your wife she’s beautiful at some point during the day, whether it’s when she first wakes up or when she’s gotten dolled up for date night. Tell him you’re proud of him for everything he does for your family, or tell her your grateful that she mowed the lawn. It doesn’t take long to do--but the feelings those words create make a big impact.

Little Things: Acts of Kindness


Third, ask yourself, what have I done for my spouse lately? Actions speak loud and clear. It doesn’t have to be repainting the whole house or making a 7-course meal to get your spouse’s attention. Little things like a glass of orange juice in the morning, a foot rub after a long day, a love note on the steering wheel, or a quick call to say “hello” show that you care. Tell her a joke you found funny or ask his opinion about the new drapes before you buy. Be the first one to apologize for your part in a dispute. Meet your man at the door when he comes home and surprise him with a passionate kiss. Bring home her favorite ice cream. Let your spouse know you care. These are the little gestures that create loving affection in marriage and clearly show your spouse that their happiness is your happiness.

Any couple can strengthen their marriage by remembering that love is more than a feeling. Love is a verb. Love is about intentionally doing the little things regularly, over time, that say “I’m thinking of you” and “I want whatever makes you happy” and “I’m glad we’re still together.” It doesn’t take long. It just takes commitment. If you want to stay in love, then get to work at loving your partner in little ways every day. You’ll feel the difference.



Heidi Poelman is the author of The Two-Minute Marriage Project: Simple Secrets for Staying in Love. She studied communication at Brigham Young University (BA) and Wake Forest University (MA). Heidi and her husband, Scott, have been married for 14 years and have three children with one more on the way. Learn more at www.heidipoelman.com. 

Unhappy Marriage: End It Or Save it for the Kids?

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Holly Easterby may be someone who’s very much interested in fashion given the nature of her work, but still says that relationships is what really shapes that character of kids. She mostly writes about kids fashion at Bonza Brats but takes the time to contribute education and family articles to websites like this one. In this article, she talks about unhappy marriages. 

Marriage is not always a promise of a life paved in roses. Men propose to the woman that they love with the most expensive ring that their wallets could afford. Women on the other hand accept it with the thought that their dream finally came true. But when the honeymoon is over, reality hits you in the face. You thought she had the most beautiful face on earth but discovered that she’s bad at handling finances. You thought he was the perfect romantic but now forgets your anniversaries and even your birthdays, too. Now that you have kids with you, should you keep your promise of ‘til death do you part for their sake?

How a Bad Marriage Affects the Whole Family


When couples fight, may this be seen or unseen, the whole family is able to feel that there is something wrong. An unhappy marriage can have these detrimental effects:
 
1. Kids will mirror your relationship. Your kids see you as their role models, even when they say that they will never ever copy your bad habits. Shouting at each other in front of the kids on a regular basis, or being sarcastic with each other- your kids will think that these things are normal and will later on adapt this in their own relationships.

2. You won’t be effective as a parent. You can lose your confidence when you are unhappy with your partner. A person can only share what he or she has. And without confidence, you may not feel competent enough to raise your kids.

3. You and your spouse are emotionally damaged. A bad marriage can really hurt, no matter what the cause. It will drain you mentally and emotionally.

Why Marriage is Important for Kids


Experts on the other hand agree that staying together as a married couple could be better for the kids for these reasons:

1. Financial stability. Two heads are considered better than one at the workplace when there is a need to brainstorm for ideas. In a family, two parents working could mean higher combinedmonthly salary. Why it matters? You can secure not only the basic needs but also education of your kids. Furthermore, you could have excess money to spare on family trips, toys and for your personal needs.

2. Tension to kids is high for divorced couples. Divorce is said to be more damaging for the kids compared to that of a low conflict bad marriage. The differing views of the parents could put a stress on the kids, making them confused whose side to take.

3. Gender issues is not a problem. Girls rely on their moms as their role models and the boys on their dads. With both parents inside the house, kids won’t be so much confused about their roles as a boy or a girl.

The Wrong Reasons to Stay Married 


But the very reasons why you need to keep the marriage alive could also be the wrong reasons why you are staying in it:

1. For the kids. Although some would suggest that as a parent, you should put the needs of your kids before your own feelings, the marriage was initially a relationship between you and your partner. Just as mentioned earlier, you can’t give what you don’t have. A marriage should make you grow together as a family. If this is eating you emotionally, it will eventually rub off to the other members of the family. Love is what binds you together as a family. Living in anger and hate is not a great way to raise kids.

2. For the marriage vow. Even though they are very unhappy about their marriages, many couples still choose to stay together. Why? Their family and the society expects it from them. Some people have strong ties to their traditional beliefs to a point that they would prioritize these over their own happiness.

3. For financial reasons. When divorce happens, you do not just decide which kids goes with whom. You may need to part with half of your assets too unless you have a prenuptial agreement.
Should You Try Mending Your Marriage?
 
Your marriage could still be salvageable though. All couples go through some rough times and your situation could still be fixed. The solution will depend on why it happened in the first place. This will of course require that both should be willing to give the marriage a try. Self-reflection is very important in the process if mending marriages. Were you being too sarcastic with your comments for the past few months? Maybe it’s time that you practice better communication. Do you insist on eating at the Japanese restaurant every time you try to have a date but he clearly loves Italian food? Why not practice being considerate and go to his favorite restaurant for a change? Sometimes, couples fight about small stuff that can be mended with a bit of consideration and understanding. You could also try marriage counselling in resolving conflicts with your spouse.

Why You Ought to End It 


There are situations though that you will require you to cut your marriage ties for good. One valid reason is physical abuse. Another is when you have tried all possible means to get along but nothing really worked for you. If being together is no longer doing anyone any good, then you and your spouse are better off living without each other.

Final Thoughts


No doubt, divorce will have a negative effect on kids. But so is being together as an unhappy couple.

Should you stay together or should you call it quits right now? Look at yourself in the mirror and be honest with your answer to these questions. Do you still love your spouse? Can you see yourself smiling when you are with him or her? Do you think he or she is willing to work on your differences? Are you making your kids happy? Deep down, you know if it will still work or not. A marriage starts with you and your partner. It grows to include your kids. Love, respect, trust, and understanding are essential to make it work. If you no longer have these, you can’t have a marriage that will let you be happy together as a family.


Author: Holly Easterby

Holly's love for children has seen her featured in many education and children websites, whether talking about healthy snacks, motivating students or children's fashion at Bonza Brats. Holly loves reading books, and shopping is her way of spending time with her young family. If you would like to catch her, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @HollyEasterby


He Said/She Said: Can I Be In Love With No Attraction?

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Dear Aaron & Rachel, 

I recently separated from my wife of twelve years.  I loved her very, very deeply, but, honestly, I was never very attracted to her.  So when she had to leave town for a job, we kind of fell apart - at my initiative. 

My question is, can this deep love circumvent the attraction issue? I love her so much but I guess I hope there is more to a relationship than obligatory sex and, for her, more than a relationship where your partner just makes love to you out of duty. I love her more than I can say, and we have years of beautiful memories. But must I let her go, though this separation just continues to break one another's hearts. I fear I'm walking away from the best person I've ever known and ever will know, and hurting her irreparably in the process.

Sincerely, 

Loving With No Attraction


She Said 


Like most men, you are a visual creature. You need to feel a physical attraction to enjoy sex and romance with your partner. It sounds like you've hoped and tried to feel this for a long time with your wife - because of your deep love for her - but it hasn't been there. If you were never very physically attracted to her, what attracted you to her and kept you interested enough to stay in the marriage for all these years? Maybe it would help to recall the things that you did find initially attractive about her. Are they still there? Can they be rekindled?

Do you think there is anything she can do to be more physically attractive to you? Is it as simple as losing weight or changing her hair style? Or is it something much deeper that prevents you from feeling attraction? On the other hand, do you think you can change something about your mindset and find a way to enjoy sex with her even if you don't think she's your "dream girl" in the looks department?

If the two of you can't find that passion, it would be hard to sustain a romantic/sexual relationship. Your love would be platonic friendship or like the close relationship of a sister and a brother. You have to ask yourself: If things do not change, would the companionship be enough for you both, or do you need to be in a marriage with passion and romance? What would make you happiest? There are a lot of questions to be answered. Following the truth will lead you in the right direction. Best of luck to you both!


He Said

This is a tough one. Scientists have identified at least three critical components of love. These include: passion, romance and commitment. All three of these are important components to a loving relationship - but you don't equal amounts of all three, Some couples have strong commitment to each other but not a lot of passion or romance - and they're happy like that. Other couples have a lot of passion and commitment but not a lot of romance. And they're happy like that, too. No two relationships are alike And what makes you feel in love is a very personal thing that only you can answer for yourself. 

You obviously have a lot of consideration for your partner and don't want to hurt her feelings but you don't mention a lot of passion or romance. You also don't mention a lot of commitment if you have recently separated. So it doesn't seem like there are many of the three types of love going on. You need to ask yourself what really makes you want to stay. 

In the end, I wholeheartedly believe that a couple can make just about any relationship work if they're willing to do the work and compromise. You need to ask yourself what will make yourself feel attracted to her (if anything) and if you feel you could be happy in a relationship with her again if you're attracted to her. Don't judge your relationship by external standards and use your own internal compass as to what you feel you want your relationship to look like in order for you (and your partner) to be happy. 

How to Talk to Your Young Child About Divorce

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Divorce is hard. Even under the best of circumstances, when parents decide that a divorce will ultimately benefit their own and their family’s health and happiness long term, the short term is hard. There are many resources to help families during this challenging time but it can be grey when it comes down to the details. What do I say to my child? How much do I share? What would benefit them to know? These are hard questions and the specific answers are different for every family and child. But here are some general guidelines to help with a tough conversation.

Present a United Front

It’s important for children to not only hear you say that Mom and Dad will still be around but also see it in action. Sitting down with them together shows them that even though Mom and Dad might be separating, they are still on the same team for the child. Talking with them together can be tough, especially when emotions are high and might not be mutual. But this is an important time to present a united front and talk with your child together.

Keep it Age Appropriate


Some children might ask a lot of questions including “Why?” Keeping this age appropriate will ultimately benefit your child. Your child does not need to know the dirty details of your adult arguments and events that led up to the divorce. Sometimes, a short answer about Mom and Dad not being happy and choosing to live apart can be sufficient. Use discretion when providing additional details and reasons and try your best to stay away from information that portrays Mom or Dad in a negative way. The single biggest complaint I hear from children as a therapist of separating and divorcing families is that they wish they knew less about what happened between their parents.

Keep it Concrete – how will it affect your child?


Make it clear that a divorce is between the parents. Parents can’t divorce their kids and let them know that you don’t want to! Let them know how things might change, such as living in different houses, but emphasize that that doesn’t change the way Mom and Dad care for them. This list of children’s rights in divorce provides an excellent list of topics you might consider. If there are still unknown answers, it’s ok to let your child know that you are still figuring it out. It’s important to stick to the truth. Say “I love you” and more than once.

Ultimately, every parent’s goal is to have this tough conversation and leave your child feeling loved and supported. Your child might react in a number of ways - let them know that whatever they feel in that moment is ok. Help them to find words for their feelings and ways to appropriately express those feelings. This list is a short guide to the first of many conversations that you will have. Listen when they want to talk about it – even if it’s hard for you to hear. By being available to listen and providing support and love to your child you are handling a hard situation in the best way possible and setting the stage for an amazing future relationship with your child. 



Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life

4 Tips for Establishing and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries

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At one point or another you may have heard or even uttered the familiar saying “you’re invading my personal bubble.”  However, beyond that concept you may find if difficult to understand boundaries, viewing them from a narrow lens.  Yet, in every daily interaction we have with another person, boundaries are present.  Although your basic understanding of boundaries may be in reference to your physical space and an imaginary line others should not cross, boundaries can also be mental, sexual, or emotional.

Boundaries are established when you define your responsibilities, set limits with others, stand strong in manipulating situations, and say “no” when you really mean no.  They determine how you will treat both others and yourself and allow others to treat you.  Because you teach others how to treat you through establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries, they are essential in cultivating and sustaining healthy relationships.

While a good boundary may be viewed as one that protects or emotionally distances you from others, that thought could not be more wrong.  Healthy or good boundaries are those that allow you to remain an individual in a relationship, remaining true to your values and beliefs, while being open to new experiences, differing perspectives, values, or worldviews.  Healthy boundaries have been described as having the ability to protect us without isolating us; they keep your individuality intact.  You know where you end and others begin.  Because boundaries are a part of your daily life, knowing how to set and maintain healthy boundaries can enhance your relationships.    

Know your limits


Whether this is knowing what situations make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, slowing down a relationship that is moving too fast, or declining an invitation for a restful night in, knowing your limits helps you identify when your line is about to be crossed and empowers you to deliver a strong, confident no without feeling guilty.  When determining your limits, pay attention to the signals your body sends you, are you feeling butterflies, is your heart beating faster, are you feeling short of breath?  These signals are more than likely indicating that your line is about to, or has been, crossed.  

Get comfortable with confrontation


Whether your line is on the verge of being crossed or has been crossed, you might neglect to communicate your boundaries out of a fear of confrontation and upsetting others.  However, when asking for your needs to be met, confrontation does not need to be viewed in a negative context.  Most of the time, people treat us how they expect to be treated, without realizing you may be uncomfortable with their behavior.  Simply confronting someone by saying what is making you uncomfortable and asking him or her to stop allows you to build healthy boundaries.  

Communicate your boundaries


When setting boundaries, communication is key.  Although you confronted the other person and asked him or her to stop, you now need to communicate your boundary.  You cannot expect other to know your limits, just as they cannot expect you to know theirs.  Through communicating and asking for your needs to be met so your boundary is not crossed, you are actually teaching others how to treat appropriately treat you.  However, if you are expecting other to treat you accordingly, you must first respect your own boundaries.  Therefore, it is your job to maintain the boundaries you set.  If you slide out of guilt, you are teaching others that you can be manipulated into changing the way you expect to be treated.

Maintain the boundary


You might have a moment where you give in to ease tension or because it is simply easier.  However, respecting the boundaries you have set through gentle reminders, both to others and yourself, will enable you to retain the boundaries.

In the beginning, setting boundaries feels difficult.  I recommend choosing one person to practice setting limits with, working your way up to more challenging individuals, such as a partner or parent. During this process, there might be a time or two when you don't uphold your boundary.  Try not to get discouraged, as this is a learning process.  Be gentle on yourself and consider how you will handle the situation differently in the future.






 
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