“Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish.” – Barbara Smith
The most effective cornerstone in any relationship with a partner, friend, employer, or client is communicating.
• You can’t rely on your negative reactions to enforce better behaviors in the future, nor can you beat around the bush about what you need in the relationship.
• When you are frustrated or upset, try to address both the hurt that your partner has caused you and the underlying problem. Focus on why it hurt you and what needs to change.
• Determine your own boundaries and needs in a relationship and communicate them explicitly.
Once you’ve established what your boundaries are within a relationship, be prepared to enforce them.
• If your partner disregards your boundaries (i.e. takes your phone without your permission, barges into your home unannounced, uses your resources against your wishes), you need to address the infraction immediately and firmly. If you waver or show any type of insecurity in standing up for yourself, you could possibly be taken advantage of further.
• Explain clearly what happened that violated your boundaries and provide a corrective action so that you both can be on the same page again in the relationship.
• Give consequences for what will happen if your corrective actions are not followed. For example, changing the locks on your doors, no longer allowing the person to spend the night at your home, calling the police if you have to. Be prepared to follow through!
If you have a hard time standing up for yourself and enforcing boundaries, then a support system will definitely be VITAL!
• You need loving, open-minded, positive people who have your back. Keep in mind that such people may not be those you are currently going to.
• If you are venting to someone about your situation and they sympathize with your partner and make excuses for them, or make you feel bad about the situation, then that person is NOT someone you should confide in.
• Talk to someone who you feel is reliable and compassionate; seek out someone from your church, a church leader or pastor, even; check to see if there are support groups or counseling advice hotlines for your area.
• It is critical that you have support from people around you to reaffirm that you are doing the right thing.
Knowing when to walk away
It’s hard to make the decision to cut ties with someone, but it is sometimes necessary, no matter how much love or attachment you feel.
• If your partner is apologetic, shows genuine effort in giving you what you need, and seems to care about your feelings, then this is someone you could continue being in a relationship with.
• However, someone who seems unconcerned about what you need, who continually violates your boundaries, guilts you into doing things, makes you feel bad/manipulates you into compromising your position, and who does not change—that’s someone you absolutely have to walk away from.
• Turn to your accountability group/support circle to reinforce when it is time for you to move on. You don’t need to be pushed past your limits and you don’t need to be made to feel bad about your own boundaries.