In relationships, both romantic and friendships, it is important to set healthy boundaries early on. I think this is something we’ve all heard in life, some of us have heard it more than others, particularly those of us that have been to see a therapist within the last ten years. As an autistic adult, I sometimes struggle with both setting and respecting boundaries, and I’ve found that a “healthy boundary” depends entirely on how it is set, how clear the communication surrounding it is, and how it effects both parties involved (with the party setting the boundary being the ‘primary’ focus). I’ve found that as both the person on the receiving end of a set boundary and being the person to set a boundary, that a few things tend to make this normally somewhat uncomfortable process go a lot smoother:
- Boundaries should be set as early on in the relationship/friendship as possible.
- Boundaries should be clear and concise, with as little “grey area” as possible.
- Boundaries should be communicated in a way that is clear, precise, and honest.
- The person setting the boundary should, if applicable, re-affirm that the boundary does not indicate a lack of care or a degradation of the friendship or relationship, but rather, is a healthy limit being imposed to preserve it. If the boundary does indeed involve the total termination of the friendship or relationship, this should be stated directly.
- The person setting the boundary should accept clarifying questions involving the boundary, and do their best to make it clear where the line is.
- The person setting the boundary should make the consequences of violating the boundary clear and concise.
- The person setting the boundary should be resolute, there should be no exceptions made, and the boundary should be ‘enforced’ at all times.
I’ve found that following the above protocol usually results in the boundaries I am trying to set with others being respected. As somebody who has also had boundaries set with me, I’ve found that I am appreciative of clear and direct communication rather than dancing around the issue. I hope this post helps somebody!