You don’t have to sit down with your partner with a check list of all of the things that make you uncomfortable, but you do have be open and honest. Some of these things might come up early in the relationship, like if you are a virgin and don’t want to have sex until you’re ready. Some of these things may not come up for a while, like if your partner wants to share passwords after dating for 6 months. When your needs are different than your partner’s, have a conversation; you don’t need to give an explanation. It may be awkward, but having the tough conversations is a part of having a healthy relationship. When your partner listens to you and respects you, it builds trust.
Sometimes, boundaries get crossed even after you’ve talked with your partner; this is where trusting yourself comes in. You may be sad, anxious or angry or you may not know exactly what you are feeling. Always trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t.
If a boundary has been crossed by your partner who didn’t know where your line was drawn, have an honest conversation. It could be something as simple as saying, “Hey, I really don’t like it when you ________. This makes me really uncomfortable. Do you think next time you can ______ instead?” This might take some back and forth before coming to an agreement that meets both of your needs, but your relationship will be stronger because of it.
If a boundary has been crossed even though you had already been clear about your boundaries, this might be abuse. Crossing a line might be obvious, like if you say no to having sex, but your partner uses physical force to make you do something you don’t want to do. But it can also be more subtle, like if your partner guilts you into something, begs you until you give in or threatens to break up with you unless you do what they want.
Open and honest communication is an important part of every relationship because it allows you to share who you are and what you need from the people around you. Miscommunication is common, but can often lead to problems, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. These tips will help you talk to your partner honestly.
Speaking: Be open and clear about how you are feeling; if you don’t understand something, tell them; use “I statements” so that the other person doesn’t feel like you are blaming or attacking them (“I feel that….); be honest, even if you think the other person might not like hearing I how you truly feel; apologize when you are wrong or hurt the other person; when talking about something negative, also mention something positive.
Listening: Pay attention without distractions (put your phone away) when the other person is talking; listen to what they are saying instead of just thinking about how to respond; wait for them to finish talking before you say something; use acknowledging statements like “interesting,” to let them know you hear what they are saying; ask questions if you don’t understand something to avoid confusion and misunderstanding; don’t leave them hanging (if you need to think about what they said before responding, tell them that); be prepared to hear something that you don’t like and really think about it before responding.