Relationships are constantly changing as they adapt to the stresses and pressures created by the evolving needs and aspirations of the individuals in the relationship.
Within this it is important to have some form of framework which helps to define the relationship and allows a couple a sense of how the relationship functions.
Boundaries are not constricting, they are liberating
Boundaries within the relationship will help to provide a structural framework which gives stability without being repressive or constricting. These beneficial boundaries are a set of physical, emotional and psychological limits which define the shape and character of the relationship.
They preserve the individuality of each of you within a strong and vibrant relationship. They balance the power within that relationship and give space for each to grow and prosper as part of that relationship.
They do not constrict the relationship but rather liberate it to flourish in a healthy and fruitful environment. A lack of boundaries will injure self-esteem and your sense of self-worth. This in turn can in some way invite your partner to exploit this with abusive behaviour.
You begin to believe that you aren't worthy or important and continue to allow yourself to be treated with disrespect. This is a place that nobody should ever want to be. Without clear boundaries you can become being treated with contempt in a relationship that was once loving, balanced respectful. So what sort of behaviour can lead to a lack of boundaries?
Always seeking approval
If you constantly seek approval from other people, you are inviting their opinions, agendas, and fears to control your decision making. By striving for agreement and acceptance you invite them into your space and give away your power. This process undermines your self respect which makes it difficult for you to receive the respect from others that you need and deserve. You have no boundaries.
Always wanting to please people
Another way to neglect to maintain healthy boundaries is to be a people-pleaser. By going out of your way to make sure another is happy often at the detriment of your own happiness is a sure indication that your boundaries have become non-existent.
Doing this conveys to the other person shows that you are unimportant. It also conveys to them that because you are responsible for their happiness there is nothing they have to do about it for themselves. This takes away their personal power to navigate their own life. Neither person benefits.
Being easily threatened
Both approval seeking and people-pleasing stem from the fear of rejection. In bad relationships sometimes a partner will use the power of that fear to keep you from establishing boundaries. They are totally motivated by their own fear and ego and will use the power of that fear to keep you under their control.
They may make you feel threatened so you don't create or maintain your personal boundaries. Living in this kind of fear, you may find it impossible to preserve the smallest of limits. In a relationship this can make you feel totally invaded and overwhelmed.
A lack of boundaries severely reduces your self-esteem and your sense of your personal value and importance. If this situation is allowed to continue unchecked you may render yourself powerless and continue to allow yourself to be dominated and treated with disrespect.
Men can suffer as well as women
This is often thought to be a situation in which the woman in a relationship is more likely to find herself. This is probably not so, there are many men who live without boundaries and suffer the consequences of a destructive and dysfunctional relationship.
It doesn't have to be like this
The damage that results from not creating and maintaining healthy boundaries can be reversed with help from counselling. The tragedy of this situation in which many couples find themselves is that the relationship is not working for either of them. Both want to break this cycle and create a healthy, balanced and sustaining relationship. Get help and you can achieve this.