Assertiveness in a Relationship – Setting Boundaries

I’m always the one to apologize and Assertiveness in a Relationship I’m starting to get very tired of it. I don’t know how to change it. Sometimes I say “no”, but then I’m afraid that maybe I overdid it.

My boss expects me to work 24/7. I’m sick of it. He writes me e-mails, texts and calls me on my mobile phone, even outside of working hours. He cut my date off last weekend by calling me a stupid question about a case I’m working on. Can’t wait until Monday? Doesn’t he know I have a private life? I feel burned out and I think I’m stuck in this job, but now I can’t afford to quit.

The above statements are one of the many problems YourLatinMates that customers report to me. Their source lies in the lack of well-established boundaries in relationships with others, and sometimes with oneself, and thus – in the lack of assertiveness in relationships with others. If you have similar difficulties, read on! I will show you step by step how to be assertive, not aggressive, to care for yourself and your limits.

What is Assertiveness?

What do you mean by assertiveness? To some, it may feel that being assertive is about saying everything you mean. In various surveys and inquiries that I address to you, the most common definitions of assertiveness are:

  • the ability to say “no”
  • self-confidence and courage,
  • the ability to present your point of view without being shy,
  • being brave and confident in conversation,
  • expressing your thoughts and ideas without fear,
  • cold refusal, being harsh or indifferent in conversations.

By researchers, assertiveness is generally defined as a way of communicating. It is a clear message, based on self-confidence and your needs. But that is only one component of the definition The second is very often overlooked.

Assertiveness is the expression of thoughts, feelings, needs and desires in such a way as not to violate the rights and boundaries of others . Being assertive helps you express your own, sometimes very different, position. At the same time, we maintain a bond with others and let them know different opinions about a given situation.

Why is it so hard to be assertive in a relationship?

Whether we are talking about a relationship with an affectionate partner, family member, friend, child, neighbor, boss, or coworker, many people find it difficult to identify their feelings, to share their feelings, thoughts, desires, and needs in a clear and productive way. A common concern – especially in partnerships – is that differences and setting boundaries will bring distance, problems, and hard-to-resolve conflicts or even a breakup.

Our ability and courage to communicate differences is largely influenced by past experiences, especially those with caregivers / parents in the field of so-called differentiation.

“Diversity is the ability to maintain a sense of yourself, your individuality, when you are emotionally and / or physically close to others – especially when they become important to you” (David Schnarch, Passionate Marriage. Love, Sex and Closeness in Solid Relationships , Psychologist, 1997) ).

Assertiveness in a Relationship - Setting Boundaries

Assertiveness in a Relationship

Families with a lower level of differentiation do not accept family members who challenge family norms or break the rules. They treat the family as one. They often have difficulty setting and respecting boundaries. An example of a family with a lower level of differentiation is one that highly values, for example, formal education and expects all family members to obtain higher degrees. A person brought up in such a system may have fears in the future about clearly marking their boundaries.

Families with a higher level of differentiation are able to accept differences in terms of needs or desires. A person brought up in such a family system will have a greater ability in future relationships to mark their boundaries without fear of being rejected.

Other components that largely affect our ability in the area of ​​assertiveness are attachment styles (anxiety, avoidance or safe – the theory of John Bowlby from 1958) and the attitude of emotional interdependence. You can read more about it in my other post – Emotional dependence on a partner .

Can people who grew up in families with low acceptance of differences, additionally characterized by an anxious attachment style learn to be assertive? Yes!

How to be assertive in a relationship?

When many of us think about learning to be assertive, it comes down to knowing the right words, getting ready-made responses, or working on not to get upset and to control our emotions. Meanwhile, assertiveness is having 5 skills.

  1. Self-reflection , i.e. understanding your attachment style, your communication habits, relationship patterns. In short, it is about realizing how your past affects you, i.e. understanding why it is difficult for you to share your feelings, thoughts, needs and desires in relationships and relationships that are important to you.
  2. Self-awareness, which is knowing your values, needs and desires, thanks to which you will feel confident about what you want to convey. To express yourself assertively and effectively, it is essential to become aware of what is happening inside you – in your mind, heart and body.
  3. Emotional fitness, i.e. the ability to deal with one’s own emotions in difficult or stressful situations without being overwhelmed by emotions or negating them. It is nothing more than awareness and acceptance of your feelings, but without giving them control over yourself and your decisions.
  4. Communication, which is the ability to clearly express your feelings, thoughts, needs and desires to others, along with consistent action. Communication is assertiveness in action and often the only step on which we focus our attention.
  5. Acceptance, that is, openness to the point of view, needs, desires and values ​​of the other person. The practice of listening without judging other people’s experiences, giving space for differences to exist.

Why it is worth introducing assertiveness in a relationship – benefits

Part of healthy assertiveness is the ability to communicate – without silencing, disregarding someone else or violating their rights just because they are different from ours. Differences between people lead to a struggle for power and whose opinion, feelings, or ideas are “right” or “better.” Giving your partner space for a response or opinion other than the one you express is not the same as agreeing with it or giving up. It’s more about developing the ability to let feelings, thoughts, needs, or desires other than yours continue to be important and valued.

Assertiveness – examples

The purpose of being assertive is not to get everything you want or to force your partner to change. Sometimes your attitude will be accepted openly, sometimes it won’t. There are words that can help you with this. Some examples below:

  • It would mean a lot to me if …
  • I would be grateful if you …
  • It is really important to me …


It would mean a lot to me if you let me know by Sunday which days and at what time you need assistance with transport, so that I can tell you when I will be able to help. If you don’t let me know by Sunday, I cannot guarantee that I will be able to help you this week.

When doesn’t being assertive in a relationship help?

Many times I am faced with the fear that assertiveness is the shortest way to break up or raise conflicts. Hope you have a broader view on this now. If you were in a group that believed that your assertiveness would distance you from yourself. You know that proper determination, communicating about yourself. Your values ​​and limits is the only way to build relationships based on respect. Friendship and emotional closeness. If you feel anxious. It may be time to learn more about interdependence .

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Summary – Assertiveness in a Relationship

Remember that being assertive is not about being above others. Assertiveness is treating yourself as equal to others and taking responsibility for your well-being, while respecting the differences of others.

If you have been unable to deal with the challenges in this area for a long time. You feel afraid of clearly marking your needs and boundaries. Sign up for an initial, free consultation: in the contact tab

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