We are each born with an innate desire to love and to be loved—to be valued, celebrated, and encouraged by another human being. To have people in our life that believe in us, laugh with us, mourn with us, and support us through the ups and downs of the journey. But learning to navigate relationships can be tricky…like “being in a committed relationship with ice cream and trying to lose weight” tricky.
Relationships are rooted in vulnerability, and so I would argue that building a relationship is a brave act of faith. You choose to believe that this person will value your opinions, stay by your side, hold your vulnerable confessions close to their heart, and support you in the changes and transition of life. We naturally hold some sort of expectation going into a relationship—whether it’s a high or low expectation—we have one.
We get to choose the expectation we have in our relationships. This is a powerful thing. We get to choose the standard for our relationships. But what happens when we don’t create accurate expectations?
We put up with heart-breaking behavior that leaves us feeling de-valued, unworthy, and unhappy.
Have you ever been fully invested in a friendship where the intentionality and loyalty wasn’t returned? Have you found yourself reaching out to a friend over and over again to hang out, but they don’t put in the same effort? Or have you ever been really vulnerable with a friend that didn’t keep your feelings confidential?
We’ve all experienced a failed relationship. And after we experience the heart-break that follows this failure, we create a new layer of protection around our heart in an attempt to avoid this feeling again. Although this is a natural response (and a rightful one at that), it hinders us from experiencing the fullness of a truly life-giving relationship. Meaningful relationships require bravery, vulnerability and intentionality—equally reciprocated on both ends.
How to Be Brave in Relationships: Creating Healthy Boundaries & Expectations
Life is full of failure—the presence of failure proves that we are experiencing growth because we are trying new things. So, of course relationships consist of failure, disagreements, and miscommunication. This is natural. The difference between a fruitful relationship and a failed relationship is the willingness to work through any problem together.
A relationship is a two-way street, and when conscious effort isn’t met on both ends, this creates the capacity for a failed relationship.A relationship is a 2-way street that requires mutual effort + nurturing.Click To Tweet
So, how can we do our part to create these life-giving, reciprocal, and meaningful relationships in our life?
1 | We have to be brave.
Meaningful relationships are rooted in vulnerability, and vulnerability requires bravery. When we build relationships with people, we are taking part in a brave act of faith. Having your first one-on-one conversation where silence feels like nails on a chalk board, intermingling in different friend groups, sharing a really vulnerable feeling, or trying to find commonalities between you and another person—each of these requires bravery.
You are stepping out in faith hoping that you will be understood and accepted by another human being—it’s a scary feeling!
You have to put in just as much effort as the other person. Your desire for a meaningful relationship has to surpass the fear of failure, awkward tension, and expressing your vulnerable feelings. It has to be worth it to you. Because rarely do we take part in a brave act of faith without a passionate desire to do so.
2 | We have to create expectations.
When you are working for someone, you expect that they will compensate you for the time, energy, and effort you put into the work. This is an understood expectation, but what if you had no expectation at all? You run the risk of not being paid, wasting your time, and becoming bitter and angry.
Creating expectations causes us to create a healthy foundation for our relationships. When we know what our standard is for a meaningful, life-giving relationship, we know what to look for and what we will and won’t put up with.
What are your expectations for a meaningful relationship?
What do you need and want in a relationship in order for it to be worth it?
These are questions that we have to ask ourselves before delving into relationship-building. When we don’t create an expectation, we put up with behavior that hurts us in the end. And when we don’t have expectations, we often don’t have healthy boundaries.When we don't have expectations, we often don’t have healthy boundaries.Click To Tweet
3 | We have to set boundaries.
Healthy relationships always have boundaries. Without them, we can often feel violated. And when we feel violated, we shut down. So, it is imperative that both people in a relationship know and respect each other’s boundaries. When we know each other’s boundaries and have a mutual trust and respect surrounding them, we can even cross them at times without deeply hurting or offending each other.
So, what do healthy boundaries look like for you? What boundaries are imperative in each of your relationships? And how can you set them?
The first step is knowing yourself, what you need and what you want in a relationship.
Are you introverted? > Do you need time to re-fuel?
Or are you a people person? > Do you want to openly process together?
Distinguish your needs as a person and clearly convey them. When both parties have a mutual understanding of each other’s needs, it is easier to respect boundaries and build trust.
Bravery is found in your simple desire to build relationship. So give yourself some credit and be patient with yourself along the way. Know yourself, your worth and value and from this place, healthy relationships will flourish!Know yourself + your value & from this place, healthy relationships will flourish.Click To Tweet
More on relationships: 4 Epic Ways Introverts Can Improve Their Relationships
How do you create expectations and boundaries in your relationships? How are you learning to be more brave? Share your thoughts below and leave a comment.
In my ideal moment I am surrounded by trees, the sound of a bird’s song, and accompanied by a cup of coffee. I believe women should be empowered to live in their most authentic, real, and honest form. Last but certainly not least, I am in a committed and life-long relationship with ice cream in all its forms.