Falling in love and building a relationship is wonderful, but it can destroy individuality if you’re not careful. Expressing boundaries will help you maintain your individuality and a healthy relationship.
A relationship can create an all-encompassing, overwhelmingly positive feeling. During the initial stages people often call an “infatuation phase,” boundaries melt and dissolve. We merge together. Our life becomes theirs, theirs ours. We lose ourselves.
At some point, we want ourselves back. We begin to erect some boundaries. The relationship appears to be pulling apart. Arguments and conflicts can occur.
Remember, love is not a static state. It is a process. There are stages.
For a healthy love to endure between a couple, each person needs to maintain their individuality. The merging and melting of individuality in the initial stages is certainly important for bonding and building attachment. Subsequent stages of love, however, require each person to develop as an individual.
When a relationship smothers individuality, it becomes toxic. A healthy adult relationship that has passed the infatuation stage will come to acknowledge, honor and respect the individuality of the partner.
That individuality will, by definition, have a set of boundaries. Individuality and boundaries go together like a designated territory and fences. Of course, that territory has gateways in and out. It is not a secluded territory, but it is a sovereign territory.
There are many examples wherein love and boundaries co-exist quite well. Parents love their children by establishing clear boundaries of acceptable behaviors. Children feel this love as consistency, structure and safety. Husband and wife show their love by respecting their partner’s idiosyncrasies, needs, wants and personal growth without trying to bend or alter them to meet their own needs. Teachers, managers, parents, friends, therapists and other roles show love through boundaries with “tough love”: treating another person sternly in the attempt to help them in the long-run.
Love takes many forms from the romantic and erotic to the familial and filial to the spiritual and altruistic. In every case, individual boundaries are going to play some role. Even if boundaries are minimized during some period, healthy love between two people will honor individual boundaries. These boundaries will help you to keep both your individuality and your relationship.