Finding, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in any relationship can be complicated. Being in an ADHD affected relationship, it can be even harder because of the symptoms that are present with ADHD.
Let's explore some ways that boundaries can be affected by asking some questions.
The ADHD Partner
Understanding that there is a brain dysfunction at play here, setting and respecting boundaries can be more important for you. Here are some ways that ADHD can affect your boundaries.
Am I in my partner's space, do I follow them around? Am I touching in a respectful way, or touching too much? Am I dominating all of my partner's time? Am I taking care of property in a way that isn't destructive? Am I taking care of myself, my messes, my body, my finances, my job or am I leaving that for my partner? Am I active in child rearing? Am I interrupting others? Am I taking over others' projects in a controlling manner? Am I letting others take advantage of me by not being able to say no? Am I using defensive/angry tones when talking to my partner? AM I assuming my partner will handle every thing? Am I refusing to treat my ADHD symptoms?
The NON ADHD Partner
Yes, you may be holding it all together, being responsible for nearly every thing, however this can lead to unhealthy boundaries.
Assuming that you are the only person who can handle cleaning, cooking, child rearing, finances, weekend plans... is also a way that you are over stepping your boundaries.
Am I following my partner around, making sure they pick up after themselves, use things the proper way (as we deem fit)? Am I touching my partner in ways that feel good to them or to myself? Am I dominating my partners time in order to feel important? Do I go through my partners personal items, desk, phone, computer? Am I sacrificing my own needs to please my partner? So I let my partners feelings dictate my own? Am I communicating in a way to be heard or am I scolding and accusing in my tone?
Those are all ways in which we break boundaries, your own and your partner's.
Learning how to set healthy boundaries by knowing what areas to set them in, how to honor both yours and your partners and putting them into perspective can lead to a happier, healthier relationship.
If you would like help in walking through this process, please contact me.
The formal term to define boundaries is this;
'A value, characteristic or behavior that we must have in order to live our life, in any situation, as the person we wish to be.'
Ok, that's great but can you break that down please? A value is a principle or standard, character is a feature or quality belonging to a person, place or thing an a behavior is the action that is taken. So, to redefine a bit; A Boundary is a standard, a quality or an action that we must have in order to live our life, in any situation, as the person we desire to be.
We all have boundaries whether we are truly aware of and enforce them or not. You will know when a boundary has been crossed by the way your body responds to the 'offense'. You may feel angry, tense, sad, frustrated, helpless, lost or a host of other emotions. Your body may present with a physical symptom; sick to your stomach, headache, muscle tension, and so on.
Setting your boundaries allows yourself and others to understand you expectations by making clear a set of morals or priorities that you have. And over time allows for adaptations or changes in how you want to interact with others. When you live in a way that honors your boundaries you are most likely to have happy, healthy relationships. When you must constantly suppress parts of yourself and live below your boundaries you will feel empty, unhappy and unfulfilled.
Finding your boundaries does not mean that you become rigid and demanding or selfish, it actually is the opposite. Finding out what is truly important to you provides strength to be who you are, it means becoming more flexible and more caring. Well defined boundaries allow you to put things in perspective and let go of petty issues.
Before you define what your boundaries are, it helps to know what areas to set them in.
I believe for our purposes we can lump them into Physical and Emotional.
Physical boundaries include personal space, privacy and your body. Violations include standing too close, inappropriate touching, a tidy space, even looking through your personal files or your phone.
Emotional boundaries involve separating your feelings from others feelings. Violations include, taking responsibility for another’s feelings, letting another’s feelings dictate your own, sacrificing your own needs to please another, blaming others for your problems, and accepting responsibility for theirs.
Our boundaries are shaped by
A great place to begin is to identify your basic human rights. Judith Belmont, a mental health author and licensed psychotherapist offers the following examples.
Defining your Boundaries in 3 ways
1. Tune into your emotions.
Tuning into your emotions can help you to better understand boundaries that you are comfortable with and ones that you are not. You can accomplish this by PAUSE and take stock. How am I feeling right now? What is my body trying to tell me?
Emotional discomfort is a sign that we need to attend to something. Pleasurable emotions let us know what/who we want more of.
2. Tune into your thoughts.
Do your thoughts about yourself become negative or positive? In what situations and around who?
Tuning into how you think about yourself or how you are acting around certain people or in different situations can also help you to understand your boundaries. For example if you are always anxious spending time somewhere or with a particular person that can be a clue that an important boundary is being crossed. Likewise, feeling happy and comfortable can be a sign that you are being respected and honoring yourself.
3. Get clear values.
Identify what matters most. Travel, time with loved ones, pay off debt, an education, a clean house, being active in your church or community. Different people will have different values and in a different order of importance.
Start by brainstorming all the things that are important to you. Don't worry about putting them in any kind of order just yet. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Financial Security; Compassion; Health/Fitness; Nature; Accomplishment; Creativity; Dependability; Loyalty; Beauty; Bravery; Gratitude; Love; Connection/Relationships; Learning; Leadership; Survival; Self-Preservation; Security; Adventure; Family; Work; Success; Calm; Freedom.....
If you would like someone to walk through this process with you, please contact me.
Learning to honor and implement them into your life is the next step.