There are a variety of different ways you can go about setting boundaries and here are four approaches to get you started:

1. Begin early
It’s much easier to introduce boundaries at the start of or earlier on in a relationship, rather than years down the road — especially once habits and routines have been established and both partners are more emotionally invested. But if it’s a little late for that tip, don’t worry. Installing boundaries at any point is still better than imposing upon each other until it frays your bond completely.

2. Conversation is key
No matter how awkward you might feel talking about your emotions a two-way discussion is vital in boundary setting. Communication is key to relationships even if they’re really difficult things to talk about. Not only do these discussions help both partners understand the extent and rules of the boundary, but they provide an opportunity to explain why you value a particular boundary. Research suggests that couples who check in regularly and open up experience greater relationship satisfaction overall.

3. Use ‘I’ statements
Communication should start with ‘I feel’. If you lead with superlative or accusatory statements (like “you always” or “you never”), then “you’re going to be hit with a brick wall of ‘That’s not what I think.’ Nobody wants to be criticized or rejected and once those defensive barriers come up, it can be hard to get the conversation back on track. Treat others how you like to be treated, so aim to set boundaries with kindness.

4. It’s OK to ask for space
Whether you’re just starting out with a partner or have been with them for a while, it’s totally acceptable to desire and ask for some me time. It might be that you have a really demanding job and you need half an hour of debrief time when you come home where you don’t talk. There’s a chance your partner might see this request as a form of rejection, so it’s important to take their feelings into account and explain this isn’t the case.