Recently, a friend asked me what the right amount of communication between exes should be? She is worried about how her boyfriend and his ex text constantly. They text when she’s lying in bed with him, and there’s always a text when they wake up. My friend feels like she’s married but living in the same house with this other woman sharing her husband. How much communication is appropriate?
Unfortunately, this happens quite a bit. We are not taught much about relationships and thus don’t realize this is massively codependent and a sign that they have not emotionally disengaged from their former partner. Due to the lack of teaching about what constitutes a healthy relationship, these people likely don’t know this - it may be an innocent mistake. Regardless, in this instance, the communciation goes against my friends morals and values so she must put some boundaries in place.
The key with boundaries is to understand that they are not meant to control or change the other person - instead, our goals are to be known, to meet our need to love ourselves and share how we feel with our partner. This way, both can decide if they want to be in the relationship.
There are 6 key building blocks to setting boundaries:
- Share what you observe. Tell the person you see them communicating with their ex, texting and calling at inappropriate times.
- Share your feelings about what you observe? You might feel rejected, replaced, or inadequate? Whatever your true feelings may be, express them.
- Share what you “make up” about your feelings? It is important we own that we are making this interpretation up and choosing to have these feelings. We are not mind readers. We might be “making up” that our partner is still in a relationship with this other person or as though we don’t matter to our partner?
- Ask for what you want and need. For example, “Would you be willing to consider putting a plan in place to stop the communication?”
- Celebrate their “no.” Asking for our needs and want is not about control or getting them to change; it's about self-love and advocating for ourselves. We celebrate when our partner says no to our request because we recognize they are advocating for their own needs, and they have every right to do so.
- Have a plan for their “no.” This is your backup plan. If your significant other refuses to let up on communication, insisting it’s innocent, explain, “ I appreciate that, but it just doesn’t work for me. I will get back to you and let you know what I decide.” Your choice could be sleeping in the spare bedroom or a hotel or ending the relationship? It really depends on your own morals, values, needs, wants, negotiable’s and non-negotiable’s. Once you decide, express your decision to them.
Boundaries are not about controlling or getting what we want. The other person doesn’t need to change. They get to be whoever they want. Boundaries are about advocating for ourselves, sharing and being authentically vulnerable so we can be known. Explaining how we are choosing to make ourselves feel in a situation like this is extremely vulnerable. We are giving them a look inside at our insecurities and what matters to us. That’s what boundaries are about - true, real intimacy. Intimacy is “In-to-me-I-let-you-see."
Here’s the beauty in setting a boundary: we both get to step back and reevaluate the state of the relationship. He decides if he wants to be in a relationship with someone uncomfortable with his communication. She decides if she wants to be in a relationship with someone who won’t give up communicating with his ex? It might just be a simple misunderstanding and with vulnerable communication the relationship grows deeper? Or, we could find we have different vies which allows us both to pursue someone who is a better fit. Both people win.
In addition, we learn about ourselves, each other, and what our non-negotiable’s are. If we keep our feelings to ourselves and put up with it, we’re hurting our partner as much as we feel hurt by them. All of that unspoken hurt, frustration and anger will come out passive aggresively.
Saying "yes" to things that go against our morals, values, needs, wants, negotiable's and non-negotiable's is not loving. That is codependency.
Enjoy The Journey! 🕺🏼
If you would like to learn more, check out the video here:
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