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How Forgiveness And Boundaries Work Together To Maintain Relationships

Affectionate couple enjoying a quiet vacation

Source: fotostorm / Getty

There’s a difference between forgiving someone for the sake of preserving a relationship, and setting boundaries. Setting boundaries helps you to show people how you need to be treated. By establishing that early on, you avoid a lot of potential pain and heartache. Sometimes you set boundaries in order to improve a relationship. Sometimes you set boundaries to establish more autonomy in a relationship for yourself. As a grown woman, I have found myself having to set boundaries with my parents for the sake of self preservation. When it comes to friendships, you set boundaries based on what kind of relationship you want to have with that person. Sometimes we try to make a friend our everything: our support system, our partner in crime, confidante, all the things. But not every friend can handle all of those hats, and it’s important to be able to categorize where they fall in your life. This is where boundaries come in. Not every friend can know all your secrets, not every friend is fun to travel with, or can serve as your stand-in therapist.

The same happens in relationships. When you fail to set boundaries in your romantic life, the results can be heartbreaking. Some of ya’ll are still mourning relationships that ended years ago, and as a result, you can’t invite any goodness into your life. Some of you are single because you haven’t forgiven the person that broke your heart, and you haven’t forgiven yourself for settling for less than you deserve.

Is there a timeline for feeling that hurt? Yes. Overextending your timeline is problematic. You’ll make excuses to stay hurt in order to avoid doing the self work, stunting your own emotional growth. You have to decide you want to be happy again.

Staying angry doesn’t do anything but foster negative energy that lives and festers inside you. Holding on to resentment won’t help to attract the person that you want.

Forgiveness is a practice. One would be surprised how difficult it is for people to genuinely apologize. The thing we have to realize is that forgiving people who hurt us is not about them, it’s about you. It’s giving yourself a chance to experience peace and calmness. It’s addressing the war you’ve created inside yourself grappling with this pain. By practicing forgiveness, you learn to let things go. In that way, you obtain freedom.

If this is a person you want in your life still, forgiveness also comes with not holding this mistake over their heads. I’ve talked in previous posts about how the tally system can be problematic in terms of keeping and cultivating healthy relationships, in friendships or relationships. If you feel like boundaries need to be set or the relationship needs to be re-assessed, that’s another conversation. You can forgive someone and realize that how they have taken up space in your life has to be adjusted to preserve your peace. I have cut partners off because we could not move past the hurt, or we were no longer serving each other. I have distanced myself from friends who were committed to misunderstanding me. Sometimes the best thing to preserve you have is to love that person from a distant. You create that boundary to preserve your own piece of mind. I find that as I get older, these audits are necessary in order to keep growing. That doesn’t mean it’s not painful, but it’s a necessary part of life.