Good fences make good neighbours
Mending Wall, Robert Frost very famously said, Good fences make good neighbors. I say, fences are important even in your relationship with your significant other.
Good boundaries, are a sense of where you end and others begin, and are a measure of your self-esteem and your esteem and trust in others. If on some level you doubt yourself, or you doubt your partner’s ability to show up reliably in the world, you may allow your boundaries to become blurred and try either to take responsibility for your partner or allow them to control you.
Some red flags are, if you find yourself taking on more than half the responsibility for a relationship and then feeling bad if it isn’t working, the likelihood is that your boundaries are not as defined as they could be. If you find yourself trying to control your partner’s actions, or find your actions being controlled by them – then your boundaries are weak. If you feel responsible for the other person or allow them to be responsible for you, then your boundaries are blurred.
Boundaries can be emotional like these, but they can also be mental, material or physical.
Good mental boundaries show confidence in holding your own opinions and not needing to echo those of someone else, nor expecting them to necessarily agree with yours. Good material boundaries mean you don’t raid their wallets or read their text messages or have them do that to you. Good physical boundaries will mean that you have healthy negotiations around sex with each other.
In short, you are a separate person to your partner and you respect their right to be themselves. After all, that’s why you fell in love with them, isn’t it?
To quote Mending Wall:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Be the boss of yourself, not of your partner – and don’t let your partner be your boss either
Pine, and apple orchard.