Feb 6, 2022

Request vs Boundary in Relationships

We’ve all been there.

Feelings of disappointment and hurt when someone we care about does or says something that upsets us. That act of pain that evokes our deepest hurt. We all know some form of these experiences in hurt, the ones that make future intimacy hard.

Intimate relationships are often burdened by our past. How we have learned to relate to each other comes from past experiences in intimate relationships. A relationship with yourself, your partner, your parent, and any relationship all require boundaries. Something our parents could have modeled to us, but likely did not, maybe because their parents never did. If you’re like this writer you got a broad set of expectations versus demands through some loose unspoken law of “do as I say not as I do”.

Hard truth is many of us were not sent into the world with clear ideas and words through which to set boundaries in our intimate relationships. Many of us are fumbling our way through old patterns of ‘polite’ requests and ‘rude’ demands. We are immensely hurt when our expectations of others especially how our intimate partners should treat us, fall short. We are left with rupture and pain when they fail to meet our needs.

Is this happening over and over again in your intimate relationships? Ponder for a moment, are you making requests or setting boundaries?Karen Anderson writes about the topic of request v. boundary v. demand in the context of relationship dynamics between mothers and daughters (1). She pulls this idea from Samy Dylan Finch who writes on this idea from the context of unlearning their ‘fawn’ response (2).

For many years I made statements such as “please don’t do that”, “can you stop?”, “this really bothers me” or [insert your most common response to hurt feelings here]. Often times people expect their partners to attune to their needs, without having truly expressed that what they need in their relationship is a boundary. In the context of a relationship, this can cause a lot of miscommunication and undue suffering. Often times we think we are setting boundaries with our partners when in reality we are just making requests.

A request is the act of asking politely or formally for something.
Example: “I hate when you drink so much, can you please not?” Or “Please don’t talk to me like that.”
Whereas a boundary is a statement or something that marks the limits of and area (in this case you) with a dividing line.
Example: “If you choose to drink/get drunk, I will remove myself from the
situation.” Or “If you choose to yell at me or raise your voice, I will no longer engage you in this conversation.”

In other words, a boundary is something that you express in order to avoid coming to that dividing line between you and your partner. While it is completely up to you to hold that boundary in place, if you have never expressed a boundary, how does your partner know when they have crossed it? The obvious conversations about your relationship need to be had, the things of relationship substance that are personal to you and your partner. Once you have clearly and assertively articulated
your boundaries, the next piece is for you. You get to decide whether your boundary has been crossed, and you get to decide your actions going forward.

Now expressing boundaries may be tricky because of many factors including (but not limited to) who we are, how we were raised, and what trauma we have experienced in our lives. What we need changes over time. We are not statue beings who stay the same and thus our boundaries will change and evolve as we learn to let go of old patterns and learn new things about ourselves.Unfortunately, we don’t get to decide how and if our intimate partners uphold and respect our boundaries. Even more unfortunate is many of us may run in to people who blatantly disrespect our boundaries. They may have spilled out most intimate details on to the internet with seemingly no repercussions at all.

In cases like this Loti is here to help you figure out what to do next. If you are wanting to reclaim your non-consensual pornographic images Loti has your back! Read our blog on how to reclaim these images or contact us and let us help you!

1. https://kclanderson.com/boundary-request-demand/
2. https://letsqueerthingsup.com/2020/02/02/unlearning-fawn-response/