All healthy relationships have boundaries. Ryan Howes, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Pasadena, California, defines a boundary as “the line where I end and someone else begins.” He likens boundaries in relationships to the boundaries around states.

Much like sharing a bedroom with a sibling, most of the time it goes well. But when it doesn’t, we start to divide the room by drawing an imaginary line through the bedroom. And one of us isn’t allowed to use the other’s side of the room. Then it gets to be problematic — someone got the door, someone else controls the window, and then who has access to the closet? It can be a mess but for many people, this is probably one of their first experiences with intentionally setting boundaries for themselves and those around them.

The reality is that every relationship should have boundaries — work, friends, family and intimate partners. Setting boundaries is never a bad thing. It’s about protecting yourself and your relationships.

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