Selfishness or need? How setting boundaries can change your relationships?

From an early age, we are taught that being selfish is not a good thing. This article is not
meant to prove otherwise, but rather to show a healthier perspective on selfishness, which is
expressed in setting boundaries in our relationships with other people. We can talk about
boundaries in all kinds of relationships: in our friendships, at work, and in our relationships
with our parents and children. In addition to these relationships, this article will focus on
setting boundaries in intimate relationships and how and when it is healthy to do so.

Improper boundary setting, or lack thereof, can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of being
unappreciated, feeling manipulated by people, and of course toxic relationships. Setting
boundaries in relationships leads to emotional, healthy relationships. This is something you
can start working on at any point and see the effect on your relationships with people.

Types of boundaries. How do they affect our relationships with people?
Setting boundaries has an impact on every area of our lives. Through them, we build a
healthy self-concept of ourselves, which leads us to practice self-care and self-love. Our
boundaries can be intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual, or social. Everyone is entitled to
their own beliefs, thoughts, understandings and opinions about the world around them. On
the other hand, we have the right to experience our emotions towards an event freely without
being judged for it. On the third hand, social and physical boundaries are expressed in that

we have the right to choose the people we allow into our lives and the degree of involvement
with them. Anything else that goes outside these boundaries that society or our friends and
parents try to impose on us can be considered manipulation.

Let’s take a look at a few signs that healthy boundaries in your relationships with others are
being violated:
● You feel like the people around you are taking advantage of your kindness and
manipulating you to get what they want by circumventing your needs.
● People come to you when they have a problem and rely on you to save them.
● You put more into your relationship than the other person.
● You take to heart things that don’t affect you personally and always try to fix the
situation, even if it doesn’t affect you.
● You consider others’ opinions and compromise more.

If you’ve come around to some of these opinions, then you need to establish boundaries.
What are personal boundaries? It’s taking responsibility for your own actions and emotions
without taking responsibility for the actions and feelings of others. People with broken
boundaries often fall into two extreme situations: they take too much responsibility for the
actions and emotions of others, or they expect others to take that responsibility for their
actions and emotions. When you don’t know how to take responsibility for your own actions
and emotions, or you take responsibility for someone else’s emotions, you damage your self-
esteem, self-confidence, and personal emotional stability, which causes problems in your
intimate relationships. Many people avoid taking responsibility simply because it is so much
easier and by the time they realize it they are already in a toxic relationship where they are
not happy with either their partner’s attitude or what they give to the relationship.

setting boundaries in a relationship

Setting boundaries in intimate relationships. Why? How?

The violation of boundaries in intimate relationships most often results from violated ones in
the family and in relationships with parents. Perhaps while you were growing up, your
parents did not establish boundaries with each other and you borrowed this example from
them. If you grew up with siblings you also certainly experienced a lack of privacy and an
escape from the responsibility that also affected your intimate relationships. In the following
lines, I will tell you a little more about exactly how to approach stopping boundaries in
intimate relationships.

People who don’t know how to set boundaries are most often those who have a strong need
for the approval and love of others. In order to get the care, love and approval they are
willing to do anything and imperceptibly destroy their boundaries. On the other hand, there
are people who take advantage of this, consciously or not. These relationships even if they
continue become extremely toxic. The partner with broken boundaries loses their self-
esteem while the other benefits from it.

We’ve already touched on the issue of shirking responsibility in relationships. This is most
often seen in intimate relationships, with one partner not taking responsibility for actions and
not showing autonomy. This is what running away from responsibility looks like in a
relationship:
● lack of social contact outside the relationship
● lack of individual activities and hobbies
● blaming the other for things that no one can counter
● blaming the other for events that happened outside the relationship

healthy selfishness
Healthy selfishness

How do we identify healthy taps early in the relationship?

In order to stop healthy boundaries, we need to know ourselves well in the first place and
practice healthy self-esteem. Even if we never fully get to know ourselves, with life
experience we gain insight into what we like, what upsets us, and what are the things that
make us feel tense. Before we set boundaries in our relationship, it’s good to think carefully
about our past experiences, traumas, weaknesses and character traits.

When this happens and you are ready to declare your boundaries it is good to do this as
soon as possible after you start dating a new person. It’s important to be real from the
beginning of an intimate relationship because setting boundaries becomes more difficult.
Aligning your personal truth and his/her personal truth will avoid misunderstandings that may
arise at a deeper stage of the relationship.

In the following lines, I give a few examples of what boundaries can look like in intimate
relationships. If you manage to properly set boundaries you will successfully show your
partner that you have needs, desires and personal preferences that are different from
his/her.


● Saying no to something you don’t like is not selfishness, but a type of healthy
boundary that many people ignore. This can be helpful not only in intimacy but in
friendships and work relationships. When we do something against our will we gather
negativity, and in extreme cases, bad feelings towards the person who is “making” us
do what we don’t want to do. Who is to blame in this situation, us who don’t say we
are uncomfortable and don’t want to do it or the person who doesn’t suspect that we
are internally screaming in annoyance because what we have to do is against our
will?


● Being honest and consistent when talking about our needs and wants will also help
build healthy boundaries. No one likes emotionally unstable people who change their
needs every two days.


● Pleasing or caring? Taking care of someone is one thing, but indulging their every
whim without thinking about whether it’s healthy for us is another. You can show care
and love in many ways even after you have stopped your boundaries. Just because
you don’t run after your partner for every request doesn’t mean you don’t love and
care for him/her. It means you have understood the idea of healthy selfishness and
setting boundaries.

● Boundaries in sexuality are also a big part of a healthy relationship between two.
Doing things against our will just to satisfy our partner’s sexual needs is unhealthy for
us and our self-esteem. Setting and maintaining boundaries in your sex life is one of
the first and most important things to do when starting a new relationship. Sex should
bring pleasure and a sense of fulfilment to both partners.


● Don’t be ashamed of the way you feel and the beliefs you have. I already mentioned
the aspect of emotional boundaries and feel free to express our emotions towards a
certain event. Allowing someone to neglect them or tell us how we should feel is
another sign of boundaries being violated. By living this way, we unknowingly harm
our autonomy. There comes a point where we always expect the other person to tell
us how we feel, and in doing so we only lose our identity.


● Lastly, I want to focus on each partner’s personal time. You are different people, with
different hobbies and in many cases different friends. Make time for your personal
needs, whether it’s having coffee with a friend or getting pampered at a beauty salon.
Let that time be just for you, without looking for your partner and checking up on him
or her while you’re not together.

A partner with strongly established boundaries in the relationship is not afraid of changes in
the relationship. This partner takes responsibility for his or her actions and doesn’t expect
the other to always sacrifice for him or her or cater to his or her every whim. A partner who
works to establish boundaries in the relationship is a partner who holds on to their identity in
the relationship. These partners are accountable for their actions, not allowing themselves to
be manipulated or ignored. To reach this level they have come a long way to successfully
practice self-love.

Practising healthy selfishness helps build better intimate relationships, friendships, and
working relationships. The VIP Academy “Invite Love Into Your Life” offers a separate
module dedicated to boundaries. Going through it helps you build a strategy for how to
approach stopping boundaries without hurting those around you, but also to be able to
practice the healthy selfishness so necessary for maintaining self-confidence and self-
esteem, leading to a happier lifestyle.

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