When you desire something your partner will not want, might resent you for, or could feel distanced by, do you choose to stay silent?
Do you feel comfortable telling your partner “no” if you think he or she will be disappointed or angry?
If you find yourself giving in to your partner’s desires even when you would rather not satisfy them, you have a boundary issue – and it can destroy your relationship.
You might think that you are just going along to keep the peace. You might think you’re being a good partner by saying “yes” all the time.
You might even rationalize that being agreeable is a sign of true love. After all, isn’t love supposed to be about giving?
Certainly, heroic lovers do their fair share of pleasing their partners. But notice I said “fair share.” When the balance is unequal, “selling out” to your partner will inevitably damage your relationship – and it will rot away your sense of self.
If you are consistently doing things for your partner that you would rather not do, you are being compliant. Compliance means that you are going against your own interests and desires in order to please another.
And when you are compliant, resentment is sure to brew. Through compliance, you are neglecting to take care of your own needs, and so you start to resent yourself and your partner.
Before you know it, your bitterness starts to color your mood and your interactions, thus draining the love and connection you share with your partner.
Whenever you give up what is most important to you in order to either get what you need, avoid abuse, or keep the peace, you are allowing your boundaries to be violated.
You cannot hold your partner responsible for your cumulative resentment if you are not clear about who you are and what you want.
If you’ve done your best to communicate what you need clearly and your partner is still unwilling to compromise, you are putting your credibility on the line if you back down.
To maintain your self-respect, you must be willing to hold your boundaries once you have taken a stand.
If you have made an effort to communicate these boundaries to your partner, but you ended up feeling frustrated and wishing you had never spoken up to begin with – you’re not alone.
This is an extremely common obstacle in even the best of relationships.
When a relationship is new, the joy of discovery and lustful connection often eclipses any disagreements that might arise.
Newly-in-love partners often don’t want to know anything about each other that could threaten the perfection they cherish.
Both may choose to leave well enough alone even if the result is an incomplete or inauthentic representation of who they are. Maintaining the illusion of a “perfect match” feels more important in that moment than full transparency.
But sadly, that fantasy of perfect compatibility is not sustainable.
People cannot feel genuinely loved if their partners are not aware of their core feelings and desires. They can only keep renewing their love if they can face their conflicts openly and work through them.
That requires that both partners are willing to follow these six principles:
To make these principles work, partners must be clear from the beginning of their relationship to set clear boundaries that they both agree to honor.
Boundaries are like the borders between countries. They can either be barriers to communication and cooperation, OR viable interfaces for exchanging ideas and resources.
When beautifully used in intimate relationships, they are symbolic lines of demarcation that help partners understand their differences while they seek whatever ways are necessary to authentically connect.
Only the acceptance of those known similarities and differences can keep partners truly validating their mutual needs.
You may find it difficult to change long-lasting patterns with your current partner, but he or she may actually welcome your efforts to become more authentic.
Your partner may not even be aware of violating your boundaries. When you finally decide to be honest, they may feel embarrassed or angry that you had not been upfront with them.
Some partners are not comfortable and may be unable to voice their own dishonesty and blame you for your past martyrdom. It’s important not to give up. If you can get past the initial barriers, the new honesty is the foundation for a much more successful long-term relationship, and most partners will come around if they feel your sincerity.
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When you bottle up your thoughts, feelings, and desires, you lose yourself and the relationship.
Your individuality becomes so submerged, that you forget who you really are. In the process, you deny yourself true connection with another. When you risk authenticity, you gain so much more.