Navigating New Relationships and Boundaries

The student years are a time for growth and development and navigating new relationships. When developing new relationships, it’s helpful to know the importance of boundaries.

Boundaries can help you establish limits with others to protect yourself from being hurt, manipulated, or taken advantage of. They can also help you preserve your mental health and well-being.

Boundaries are important in all kinds of situations and relationships: academic, professional, and personal. This includes professors, bosses, friends, classmates, dating relationships, parents, high school friends, extended family members, acquaintances, and strangers.

Learning how to recognize and establish healthy boundaries can help you identify your needs and values—and avoid pressure to do something outside your comfort zone.

Here are a few tips on how to establish and maintain healthy boundaries:

  • Recognize the qualities of healthy relationships: Healthy relationships are built on mutual trust, respect, and honesty. They involve give and take, compromise, and open communication.
  • Be aware of how others make you feel. If you find yourself angry, frustrated, or sad, it’s helpful to identify the cause. Remind yourself that everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. Learn to prioritize your own needs and limits.
  • Learn to speak up for yourself. If someone is taking advantage of you, picking on you, or pressuring you to do something you don’t want to do, develop strategies for diffusing the situation. Use assertive phrases, such as: “No, I’m not comfortable with that,” or “I need some time alone,” or “That is a topic I won’t discuss with you.”
  • Learn to say “No.” Be specific. Let others know when they cross the line. Remove yourself from the situation.

Just as long-term relationships evolve and change over time, boundaries evolve too. These transitions can be challenging at times. Your Assistance Program is here to help. To learn more about these free and confidential services, or to access them, please visit Member Support.