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Today, we are talking about distinguishing between unconditional love verses lacking boundaries. Relationships are a constant flow of communication, giving, taking, and forgiving. But what happens when part or all of the relationship becomes off balance? That is what we are going to dive into today. Can you recognize a pattern of relationship issues in your life? Could you use some help understanding boundaries and what a healthy relationship looks like?

What Does Unconditional Love Look Like?

When considering unconditional love, it can become hard to define what exactly it is. It is often defined as giving of yourself and your love freely. Doing so without ultimatums, conditions or expectations attached. It is understood that to do so we must also communicate openly, forgive freely and give through hardships or difficult times. Unconditional love is reciprocated between two people. There should be a balance of giving and taking. Both people should feel seen, heard and supported. Below are just a few examples of what unconditional love may look like between two people.

  • Quality time spent is enjoyed
  • Freely sharing vulnerable things
  • Respect for the person
  • Ability to forgive and move on
  • Part of each other’s support system
  • Ability to say and feel “I don’t agree, but I can see why you think that”
  • Sacrifice is made for one another
  • Imperfections are seen and known and accepted

For unconditional love to exist and be safe, it requires love, respect, kindness and safety. We all have needs that involve love. Learning what a healthy love looks like may be more important for those who were raised in environments with unhealthy care givers. Do you recognize these traits within your relationships? Below, we will discuss unconditional love verse boundaries and what they may look like.

What Does Lacking Boundaries Look Like?

A personal boundary can be seen as our own rules for how we will allow people to treat us. They establish what is acceptable to us as well as unacceptable. Boundaries are not rude, ultimatums, weapons or meant to change someone else. They are healthy, respectful tools that establishes what you will and will not do. They are based on your values you have for yourself to care and protect yourself. Boundaries are about the behaviors you have established for yourself and are not about controlling other people’s behaviors.  Boundaries help to keep us true to who we really are. If we allow ourselves to do or become what other people has set as their boundaries, it can be easy to lose who we desire to be. Within a healthy relationship, each person should be able to identify unconditional love verses boundaries. There should not be manipulation or consequence for not doing something. Have you had relationships where you feel boundaries were ignored or never set to begin with? Below are a few examples of what lacking a boundary could look like.

  • You take on more tasks than you can handle
  • It is hard to say no, you do things you don’t want to
  • You lose your temper with someone often
  • You complain about someone’s behavior often
  • You dread spending time with someone
  • You feel powerless over your time, finances, or life
  • You feel you have lost your voice for yourself
  • People often use you

There are a lot of environmental factors that go into our ability to set boundaries and keep them. If you find yourself overwhelmed by reading through this, I encourage you to take a deep breath. Recognizing the need for change is a great first step. There is help. You are not alone.

How Do I Set Boundaries with Someone?

It is easy to read through this information and desire unconditional love that has healthy boundaries. Sometimes it is not easy to unravel where you are and what is the first step forward. The path forward will look different for each of us. We all have had a different set of circumstances that contributed to where we are right now. When deciding to set boundaries in your life and in relationships, it will be important to know what that looks like and how to set them. Below are some examples of boundaries and how to implement them.

  • I do not like it when you yell at me. If you do not stop yelling, I am going to leave.
  • Please stop yelling at me. If you stop yelling, I will be able to concentrate on what you are saying.
  • The best way to reach me is through email. If you text or call, I will not respond.
  • The best way to reach me is through email. I am able to keep track of communication better.
  • I am comfortable holding hands, but not kissing.
  • I love to receive a text daily, but not multiple texts per hour.
  • I love holding your hand, but please do not touch me there.

Remember, boundaries are about you and your preferences. How you want someone to be in relationship with you. If someone else is not willing to offer unconditional love and respect the boundaries you have for yourself, you are the only one who can decide how you will respond. It is important to be able to recognize when someone does not respect other people’s boundaries. Being able to set boundaries as well as what steps you will take for someone who does not respect them can be hard. Remember, relationships are healthy when there is a mutual respect for one another. Unconditional love and boundaries go hand in hand in relationships. It is important to know the difference between unconditional love and having a lack of boundaries set.

Next Steps.

If you recognize the need for boundaries in your life, yet have trouble voicing them, there could other things that you need someone to help you through. Therapy can help you understand your past and shape a future you desire. Upstate Restorative Counseling offers Relationship Counseling as well Individual Counseling for you. You are not alone; we are here to help.