What Are Your Limits in a Relationship?

· June 14, 2017

When it comes to limits in any sort of relationship, whether it’s familial, social, or romantic, some are generally shared by everybody. Some, however, are personal, established with the people around us according to what we’re prepared to tolerate.

In romantic relationships, limits can vary a lot from one person to the next. Some people can tolerate and even forgive infidelity, while others never would no matter how in love they are with their partner. The person’s upbringing, personal experiences, values, and self-esteem have a lot of influence in this regard.

However, although everyone has their own personal limits and there is diversity between them, there are some behaviors that you should never let slide if you want to protect your self-esteem and your dignity. 

Limits and emotional dependence

Almost everyone knows what they don’t want from their relationship. However, when the other person crosses that line, people often stay in the relationship and feel incapable of ending it and going their separate ways.

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Even though they know they’re not okay with that behavior, they prefer daily suffering over the pain of permanent loss.

They see their partner as a vital necessity, like food or sleep, and so it’s impossible for them to detach themselves. The fear of losing a loved one is so big for some people that they put up with behaviors like lying, abuse, or oppression in order to maintain the relationship.


Seeing one’s partner as a necessity is the result of emotional dependence. It occurs when you’re incapable of establishing your own set of criteria and limits.

Dependent people normally express their way of thinking in the following ways: “I’m sure things will change,” “it’s not that bad, maybe I’m just exaggerating,” “they do it because they’re stressed, it won’t last forever,” etc. They justify their partner’s behavior even though it’s hurting them because they need to convince themselves. Although they know deep down that these are just excuses, they make them feel better, forgive their partner, and continue with the relationship, at least momentarily.

Limits and self-esteem

Healthy self-esteem, or accepting oneself unconditionally, is a pillar of mental health and emotional well-being. A low self-esteem, or lack of acceptance of oneself, is the starting point of many psychological problems.

If you really want to be happy, you have to accept and love yourself, with all your flaws, virtues, limitations, and potential.
Low self-esteem has a lot to do with limits in all areas of life, especially in romantic relationships. If you value the other person more than yourself, or if you think that you can’t be alone, that you need that person in order to be happy, or that your partner is the only thing that gives your life meaning, you’re basically throwing powerful bombs at your self-esteem. Bombs that can explode at any moment.
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This can be dangerous because if you let things slide, you can get to the point where it’s extremely difficult to leave the relationship, or where you’re incredibly sad being with that person.
You’ll only be happy in your relationship when you know what you’re prepared to tolerate and what you’re not, what you want in your life and what you don’t.

When this is clear to you and you’re consistent with it, you won’t put your needs beneath theirs. This attitude isn’t selfish at all, if that’s what you’re thinking; it’s quite reasonable. If you’re at peace and in alignment with your ideas and values, you’ll be more in harmony with the other person, and in turn, that person will feel better with you.

What shouldn’t we let slide?

Like we said at the beginning, everybody has their own personal idea of what they want from their relationship. If you’re doubting the relationship, ask yourself: Is this what I want for my life? Do I see myself with this person in five years? Is this behavior something I’m prepared to tolerate?

Most importantly, if you ask yourself these questions, be honest with your responses. Negative responses are reasons to leave the relationship, even though you know that you’ll probably have to go through a painful process of putting yourself back together.

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The pain might not be pleasant, but it’s even more unpleasant to be in pain for your whole life, day after day.
So what is it that you shouldn’t tolerate? One of the things that no human should tolerate from another is being dismissed as a person, or in other words, having your likes, values, and opinions be disregarded.
Nobody can tell or order another person to stop being who they are, because then it just doesn’t make sense to choose them as a partner. If you don’t like the person you’re with, you can always take a step back, but never tell them who they have to be or how to behave.
Another obvious limit that should be clearly defined is abuse, in both the physical and emotional sense. You can’t let anyone mistreat you because nobody has the right to do so. Finding justifications for abuse will only make the situation last longer. Leave the relationship the second it starts to appear.

Finally, you can’t let anyone restrict your individual freedom. It’s the most valuable thing that you have. You have to be free to come and go, to decide what kind of lifestyle you want to live, to have your own friends, etc. Therefore, always put your freedom above everything else.

And remember, love can’t do everything. Sometimes love has to be reasoned rather than just felt.

Emotional Dependence: I Always Go Back to You