What are the limits?
To know when you have to set limits, you must first understand what they are. “A limit is a line that marks respect, a barrier that you establish before certain behaviors are unpleasant or undesirable,” explains Henry. “It’s a way of verbally and non-verbally communicating how you want to be treated.”
In every relationship, marking boundaries is important.
When we talk about limits, sometimes we only think about the sphere of sentimental relationships, but it can really be very positive to apply them to all kinds of relationships. According to Dr. Henry, when you establish limits with someone, “that person, whether a work colleague, friend or acquaintance, recognizes that he cannot do what he wants, that there are certain requirements for the relationship.”
First set the limits mentally
Before speaking with the person, you must have clear ideas to transmit them. Setting a limit does not only depend on the person you want to mark it with. If that person does not respect you, it is important that you remain firm and express your conditions (we will talk about this later). Consider yourself if you will be able to stick to those limits that you plan to mark (do not sleep with your ex, for example, it may not be as easy to fulfill as you expect). “You have to be able to justify it and take the necessary measures to keep your position firm,” says Henry. It is useless to set limits that you yourself do not intend to maintain.
Then, take your time to think carefully about the person you want to talk to: your personality, your relationship and any other aspect that may be relevant. Are you good at listening? If not, you may have to be very concise and clear, set strict rules and leave little room for ambiguity. Is it a person who does not fit constructive criticism? In that case, you should be especially careful with the tone you use.
How to approach a conversation to set limits?
It may seem obvious that this kind of thing should be discussed in person, but Henry says that it does not necessarily have to be that way. “It depends on how comfortable you feel,” he says. “It’s you who sets the limits, so you decide how and where to have that conversation.” Henry also considers that, if you want your message to be very clear or you are very uncomfortable with the prospect of approaching it in person, it is best to opt for a WhatsApp text. “The good thing about writing it is that you can express what you want with precision and in the way you think best,” he adds.
Explain to that person why you are setting limits and that their behavior bothered you. Tell him that your decision is a way to improve your relationship, not distance yourself.
You must mentalize for your reaction
You will have to face the possibility that the person does not take well what you say. In fact, according to Dr. Henry, it happens a lot. “Up to that point, the person had enjoyed some influence over you, some indulgence on your part. But from the moment you get up and decide that this situation does not suit you, it’s normal for the other person to offer resistance and rejection, “says Henry. “You can expect conflict and tension, whatever you want to change.” If you find yourself in that situation, Henry advises that you keep those limits anyway and try to explain to that person why you made that decision. “It does not have to be ‘Or we do it my way or nothing’, but rather ‘Before your behavior hurt me; this is what I would like to see changed so that we can maintain our relationship, ‘”says Henry.
Do not lose hope! Sometimes they can accept your decision. “If he’s a friend, someone who cares about you and does not realize that he was hurting you, he may understand why you set limits, because what that person really wants is for you to feel good and maintain your relationship “, Add.
Keep the limits
It would be great if the hard work was over after having the talk, but the reality is that keeping the limits is probably just as complicated, since it implies not only sticking to what you said you would do, but making sure that the other person also does it. If you have trouble keeping your word, Dr. Henry recommends that you “prioritize your well-being and your feelings when it comes to justifying your decisions and why it’s important to you. The other person may not like it, may not agree, but he has to respect it. ” If you do not, you should realize that there may be consequences. For example, “you have shown that you are not able to respect my conditions about this relationship, so we are going to have to stop seeing each other outside of work”.
The intention plays a very important role when it comes to setting limits, and it is easy to fall into old habits if you forget what you have decided. According to Dr. Henry, asking you a series of questions can help you to stick to your decision: “Why do I believe that this value is so important as to set a limit? How can I communicate this to the other person without endangering our relationship?
If none of the above works, maybe it’s time to consider whether it’s worth maintaining the relationship. In any case, you will feel proud of yourself for looking for your needs. Good luck!