Living among other complex beings who love to test limits requires us to teach others how to treat us, even — and especially — when it comes to people we’re related to. When it’s time to set better boundaries with your family, your instincts will let you know what’s right, even if you choose to ignore them sometimes.
Asserting yourself to relatives can be one of the most challenging situations you’ll face in your adult life, but failing to establish boundaries with family gives the impression that anything goes, and that’s obviously not healthy for anyone. On the flip side, setting limits with your parents, siblings and other relatives can actually empower you, lead to higher self-esteem, and help you live a more fulfilling life overall. It might be awkward, weird, and in some cases, family can be resistant to the changes you implement.
As daunting as it sounds, standing up for yourself is something you have to handle, especially when you have all the signs that it’s way past time to start setting better boundaries with your family.
1They’re interfering with your relationship.
Hearts are fluttering, eyelids are batting, and basically all signs point to yes — your relationship is working. But before the excitement can wear off, your well-meaning (or downright nosy) relatives begin to interfere in your relationship by asking intrusive questions about your dating life or making comments about your partner that create doubt in your mind.
As a result, things can get really uncomfortable between you and your significant other, and you might even slowly begin to agree with a tiny voice inside that tells you that this may have been avoided if you had set more strict boundaries with your family.
2You put them before everyone else — even yourself.
It’s great to be known as a dependable person, until your reputation for being reliable starts to take a personal toll. When you say yes to everything your relatives ask of you — even when constant compliance causes you to suffer — you can get caught up in a whirlwind of codependent family dynamics that ultimately show a blatant disregard for your own well-being.
3Your family doesn’t show you respect.
If your family doesn’t value your time, allow room for your thoughts, or they openly criticize the way you live your life, it might be in part because your lack of boundaries tells them this awful behavior is an acceptable way to treat you.
4You can’t separate your beliefs and values from theirs.
As an adult, the groupthink approach to life feels stifling, and holds you back from being your authentic self.
But think about it: Do you really want to tip-toe through the rest of your life, not exploring your personal interests because someone else deems them invaluable? Putting parameters in place with relatives is the perfect place to start getting your needs met.
5You tend to overshare with them.
Listen, no two familial relationships are the same. There are those who tell certain family members every single detail down to the day they first had sex (aka, the most embarrassing overshare EVER); There are also those who prefer to keep a lower personal profile when it comes to doling out the specifics of their personal lives.
We all have our reasons for telling people more than we should, but it’s never too late to adjust the amount of information you disclose to your family members.
6You feel manipulated by them.
We tend to automatically want to paint family in the best light, but sometimes those closest to us can find ways to take advantage of our kindness. When your relatives constantly use guilt trips and other manipulation tactics to convince you to do something you’re not comfortable with, it’s time to assert yourself with difficult family members in order to avoid resentment and an overall unhappiness that comes with constantly sacrificing your needs for the sake of others.
7Your family impacts your decision-making abilities.
Don’t get us wrong: Having a family who’s willing to support you and help you talk through problems is a wonderful luxury that not everyone enjoys. However, trusting yourself to make decisions instead of seeking advice can help you to become more balanced and independent. Too much reliance on your relatives to help you decide things like what job you should take or where you should live could leave you feeling like you don’t have a say in the direction of your own life.
Similarly, giving in to pressure to comply with what your family feels is best for you is a sign that you should work on establishing some healthy limits to assure everyone involved (including you!) that you are totally capable of handling situations on your own.