Scared to set new boundaries in old relationships? Here’s how to do it

A healthy relationship adapts to and evolves with time. If you feel the need for change in your emotional boundaries, speak up!
Emotional boundaries are important – be it in a toxic or non-toxic relationship. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Published on: 5 May 2022, 21:14 pm IST
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Change is the only constant in life. Every relationship evolves with time, as does every individual. Our needs, desires and demands change; as do our expectations. And as we mature, we may feel a need to alter or reset our emotional boundaries in a bid to maintain a healthy relationship.

New York-based psychologist Dr Neha Mistry, through her latest Instagram post, has steered attention to this critical, but rarely spoken about aspect of emotional bonds.

“As our wants and needs change over time, it makes sense we desire that our relationships will also evolve in that direction. Sometimes, we don’t even recognize the changes in ourselves till something makes us go, ‘actually, no I want THIS now’,” she wrote in her post.

Communication is important for a healthy relationship. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

She talks about the need to “set new boundaries in old relationships”, which is something people rarely do, because… well, love is often taken for granted. “When it comes to boundary setting, most people generally struggle with expressing their needs in current and old relationships. We let things go, let other things slide, sweep recurring conflicts under the rug, etc. Not all relationships will hold the capacity to evolve and grow as you want them to. Knowing this brings up a lot of discomfort inside of us and thus hold us back from communicating our needs,” shares Dr Mistry.

What is the solution for a healthy relationship?

Communication! Just like you should communicate your emotional boundaries at the start of a relationship, sharing your need for new and improved boundaries should be conveyed.

You may feel uncomfortable, fearing it may change things. But as the expert points out, you must get “past the discomfort to get through to our needs”.

She suggests people to do a “visualization practice”. What’s that, you wonder?

“You can mindfully imagine what this conversation would look like, sound, etc. There’s a good chance a range of bodily sensations will arise – some feel-good, others confusing and even overwhelming,” adds the expert.

But it’s important that you do it.

At the end of the day, your happiness is in your hands. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips to communicate for a healthy relationship

According to Dr Mistry, these are a few statements that may help you to put your point across about resetting emotional boundaries in an existing relationship, without hurting your loved one:

1. “I know this is a different response than in the past, but now I need…..”

2. “This is difficult for me to say, but I am learning prioritize my mental health, and this is why now I need….”

3. “I have been reflecting on our relationship as it is important to me. While this hurts me to say, I cannot…”

4. “Our relationship has always been based off of…. It is difficult for me to say that this but this is no longer working for me. I would appreciate it if we can….”

Just remember that you need not necessarily wait for the perfect time, or feel confident about sharing your emotional boundaries. Just do it in order to sustain a healthy relationship.

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