Most people think "romantic" when they hear the word "relationship". However, a relationship can be with anyone who is in your life - a friend, an acquaintance, a sibling, a parent, a teammate, a teacher, a classmate, a co-worker, a neighbor - these are all people you have relationships with in the world, despite the closeness of the relationship. That is why we have many degrees of closeness in our relationships, and with that we also have different boundaries.
Boundaries help protect us and those around us. They not only let us respect ourselves, but they give people guidelines so that they know how to respect us. Boundaries make relationships safe.
Sometimes it is hard to set boundaries for several reasons, fear being one of the most common reasons. Many people are scared of being alone or of getting hurt. Others do not feel they are worth anything without another person in their life or they feel that they are a burden to others in their life. Some people are scared that if other people really knew them, or what they needed, they wouldn't accept them. When there is fear in saying "no", or a fear in saying "yes", the relationship is not healthy.
When boundaries are strong, there is a balance. When they are too close or too far, problems can be created.
If you struggle with ...
Ignoring your own needs
Giving the other person more than you'd like to give them
Going too fast
... your boundaries may be too close.
If you struggle with...
Asking for help
Isolating yourself or pushing people away
Feeling alone or disconnected
... your boundaries may be too far.
So... what do healthy boundaries look like? Overall, in order for a relationship to be healthy, it needs to feel safe. Safety means that there is mutual trust/honesty, respect, and support, as well as open communication.
If you can...
Say no and yes comfortably
Be yourself and refrain from changing who you are for the other person
Express yourself without fear of consequences
Take responsibility for your own actions
... your boundaries may be balanced.
If you feel that you may struggle with boundaries, it could be time to reach out to a therapist for help. There are also many support groups out there and books that you could read that may offer some direction on how to feel more comfortable with setting boundaries. If you would like some suggestions, feel free to contact me or browse my resource page.