At a time of official caution and collective and individual cautiousness when ̶ as far as possible depending on the regime we live under ̶ we have been told to maintain clear physical boundaries between each other and boundaries have similarly closed between countries for the sake of preserving health and safety within those national territories, it is equally important to set limits and boundaries with our partners and close family members. This will benefit both our own mental health and theirs, keeping us from losing control and maintaining our sanity in the process.
Now is the time for a clear delineation between who we are and where the other person begins. When we interact with each other mindful of what we need, think and feel while at the same time we meet our fellow conversationalists half-way through dialogue, the interaction can become engaged, active and openminded. Rather than shutting down or giving into each other to the extent that the dialogue turns into a monologue, we should endeavour to listen properly to each other, allowing opinions to be voiced that we can choose to embrace or refute as long as we take these viewpoints into consideration.
As highlighted by Belgian psychotherapist, author and thought leader Esther Perel in her blog letter “Letters from Esther#9: Life and Love Under Lockdown”, with regard to discussion and dialogue between two people relating to one another through a bond that is more, or less, intimate:
“Contrary to the idea that we need to merely survive this pandemic, we need not only to take care of our physical, mental, and emotional health, but to be creative and to make concerted changes to our relationships. We must create new boundaries and dissolve those that no longer serve us.”
Even if the above would refer to those of us in committed relationships, mental agility, open-mindedness and the capacity to listen while at the same time contributing with our own thoughts, are qualities needed for any healthy interaction between people to be achieved and maintained. Through set boundaries we allow respect to grow between each other; individuals needing to be heard to an equal extent. Clear delimitations, in other words, means the ability for two or more people to operate within healthy boundaries.
Putting your foot down while at the same time we move closer to one another through a mutual understanding of who we are as individuals, what we stand for, and what we need. This is one of the main lessons we have learnt from an unprecedented year of national closure and domestic and intimate closeness when interpersonal curiosity and the freedom to be ourselves is what will allow a relationship to last, survive and prosper.