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According to the dictionary, a boundary is a line that marks the limits of an area. While this is a more tangible definition, the figurative boundary lines of our personal relationships are just as important. The fact that these lines are unseen can make it difficult to know where to draw them. However, they are necessary in order to clearly lay out the limits of where you end and the other person in the relationship begins.

Particularly in a relationship with a significant other, it is very important to talk about and establish healthy boundaries at the beginning of this relationship. Without boundaries, the lines between personal and relational life quickly become blurred, creating confusion about your personal identity apart from this other person. If you begin to view your relationship with your significant other as your life rather than part of your life, that’s a clear sign that you have little to no boundaries present between you and the other person.

It is important to search yourself before establishing boundaries with another person in order to identify your personal strengths and weaknesses—places you might be tempted to compromise your personal identity for another person. You might want to make a list as you think through some of your personal tendencies. Every person is responsible for his or her own feelings, actions, and reactions, and we should not pass the blame on to another person for what we can control. It will help you as you create boundaries with your significant other if you know your own personal triggers and tendencies.

These boundaries can include, but are not limited to, time boundaries, physical boundaries, and communicative boundaries. Time boundaries are limits on the amount of time you spend with this other person to allow for personal time and time with friends and family. It might also mean setting a “cut off time” for when you and your significant other spend time together at night, especially if you both have jobs or school to wake up early for in the mornings. Physical boundaries are limits on the places you touch each other, as your body is your own until you enter into a marriage relationship. Communicative boundaries are limits on the amount you talk to or text this person. This goes hand-in-hand with time boundaries, as there will probably be other important things to fill your time that might require you to schedule more intentional time to talk with your significant other.

These three categories of boundaries are a great place to start, but there is no formula or pattern to follow when setting boundaries. The process will differ based on who you are, who your significant other is, and the nature of your relationship together. Though it is better to implement boundaries like these at the beginning of your relationship, it’s not too late for you to establish healthy boundaries. Even if you do make these boundaries early on, it is likely that you will have to continually adjust as you grow both individually and together. If you and your significant other can agree upon your boundaries, you can put your boundaries into practice today, even if you’re several years into your relationship. It’s always a good time to start making your relationship healthier.