Healthy relationships, whether between friends, companions, or lovers, should mutually benefit and be positive for both people

  • Use an auto-reply for email (and other chat apps) that lets colleagues and clients know your working hours and breaks, so they will know when to contact you.
  • Let your family know when you’re working and when and how to contact you during work (and when and how not to). This might look like telling your kids that it’s okay to call or text if there’s an emergency, but if it can wait until after work, please wait.
  • If you work remotely, designate a separate space in your home for work, get dressed for work, turn off your monitor during nonwork hours, and have a pre- and post-work routine (like taking a walk, doing another workout, or practicing some type of relaxation).
  • Stay off work email on the weekend and days off (or doing other work-related tasks).

Remember, even if you own your own business, or do side work outside of a full-time job, setting work boundaries is important. Those boundaries might look different from boundaries set for a more traditional 9-to-5 office job, but they’re still important, Dr. Hakim says.

And remember to respect the breaks and nonwork times of the day, just as much as you would respect the starting time for an important meeting or start of the work day, Hakim adds.

Boundaries in Friendships

If you find yourself in a position where you feel like you are drained because you are giving more to your friend than they are giving to you, consider if you have healthy boundaries in that relationship.

Remember friendship is a two-way street, says Gregory Scott Brown, MD, author of The Self-Healing Mind, and a psychiatrist and affiliate faculty of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin. You should be there for each other and help one another out.

“Communication is key,” says Dr. Brown. When setting boundaries in friendships (and other relationships), explain why you are doing so, Brown says. If you need more time to yourself, let your friend know that and let them know when you’ll be available again so that he or she doesn’t feel abandoned, he adds.

Boundaries in Romantic Relationships

As an example, if you tell a romantic partner that you’re not available for phone calls after a certain time of the evening, setting your phone on silent after that time is a way to turn that expectation into a boundary.

Have a conversation with romantic partner about boundaries you want to set before crossing those boundaries becomes a problem, says Brown.

There’s a common misconception that setting boundaries with a romantic partner is a way of distancing yourself from that person. But the reverse is actually true, explains Mutchler. “When done well, it’s a recognition of one’s own needs nostringsattached com and a desire to keep the relationship healthy.”

When it comes to romantic partners, this includes boundaries around sex and intimacy. It is important to tell your partner what kind of intimacy you are comfortable with and what feels good to you physically and emotionally and makes you feel loved. Conversely, it’s okay to talk about what makes you uncomfortable.

And this should include talking about sex and what types of sexual acts you and your partner are comfortable with.

“Talking about sex with a partner helps you know the boundaries without breaking them. It can help increase intimacy and feeling known and understood by your partner,” says Mutchler. “When our partners explain their boundaries to us it shows us how to love them.”

And remember, no matter how long you’ve been in a relationship or lived with someone, it is never too late to set boundaries, adds Wright.

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