The Barrier: A tried and true people pleaser, you agree to everything. Your main goal in a relationship is to be that easy, breezy low-maintenance girl with no needs of her own. You live in fear of being seen as selfish or even worse, difficult. So you find yourself agreeing to meet up with a guy when you know you really need Me Time, or going out in a group with all his college buddies when what you want is a night with just the two of you. And then there are the favors like picking up his dry cleaning, dropping off his cat at the vet, and revising his resume, which leave you wiped out when it’s time to focus on your own tasks. Without boundaries, you risk either being depleted by fulfilling others’ needs at the expense of your own self-care, or having to erect impenetrable walls to protect yourself and your energy.
Relationship Rx: Flex your boundary-building muscles by saying, “No!” Declare it The Week Of No and decline every request that you don’t truly feel excited about doing. Say no when your neighbor asks you to take care of his bird over the holiday weekend, your best friend asks you to spot her $20 at dinner, and your co-worker asks if you would mind reading the first draft of his sci-fi novel and giving him detailed feedback. Turn down invitations that don’t feel joyful and fun. You don’t even need to offer an excuse—you can say no just because you want to! This will be uncomfortable at first so give yourself room to do it messily and awkwardly. And then devote all the extra time you have to taking care of the things you need to do.