You don’t lie to your boyfriend, but you’re not exactly honest, are you? It’s time to tell the truth. These 7 tips on how to be honest with your boyfriend will help you set healthy boundaries in your relationship. I was inspired to write this article for two readers. The first wants to tell her boyfriend the truth about how she feels, but doesn’t want to hurt his feelings or seem unsupportive…
“I’m trying to be supportive of my boyfriend,” says Leticia on What to Do When Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Time for You. “He is really busy at work and feels overwhelmed. When we do see each other he is exhausted. Sometimes, like this weekend, he has to work from home so we won’t be seeing each other. We have talked about my disappointment in the past and he knows I want to be a priority in his life. He said he would make more time for me, but after a few months we are at the same place again. How do I be supportive and still let him know I’m not happy?”
You love your boyfriend and you don’t want to hurt or upset him. You value your relationship and you don’t want to lose him. At the same time, you need to be honest with your boyfriend about what you think, feel, and need. Speaking the truth in love is the only way to build a healthy, strong, happy relationship with your boyfriend. And, the best way to learn how to speak your truth is to learn how to set healthy boundaries in your relationship.
The Big Question: How do you honestly and lovingly share your true feelings (“speak your truth”!) with your boyfriend without being selfish or unsupportive?
The Quick Answer: You learn how to set healthy boundaries in your relationship. You learn how to be honest with your boyfriend without insecurity, fear or anxiety.
Don’t let the idea of learning “how to set boundaries with your boyfriend” scare you. Setting boundaries can seem daunting at first, especially if you’ve never heard the concept before. But hold tight! Here, you’ll learn what boundaries are and how they can help you build healthy, happy relationships.
7 Tips for Being Honest With Your Boyfriend by Setting Boundaries
Why does honesty involve setting healthy boundaries? Because when you speak your truth in love, you are learning how to ask for what you need in your relationships. You are communicating your thoughts, needs, and feelings from your heart. And, you are open to hearing your boyfriend’s thoughts, needs, and feelings from his heart.
Read Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend. I can’t teach you how to set healthy boundaries in your relationship – or how to be honest with your boyfriend – in a single blog post. This is a relationship issue that needs time and attention.
Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances. Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions. Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others. Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God’s will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator.
Learning how to set and maintain healthy boundaries will help you build a healthy, happy, lasting relationship not only with your boyfriend but with your family, coworkers, and anyone you come into contact with.
In this article, I’ll help you:
- Understand what healthy boundaries are
- Learn how to set boundaries in your relationship
- Be patient as you learn how to be honest with your boyfriend
- Prepare for a negative response from your boyfriend
- Learn how to deal with an unhappy man
- Allow for internal resistance: fear, insecurity, guilt
- Keep learning how to be honest with your boyfriend
The more you do it, the easier it gets to speak your truth in love. But that’s only the beginning! Being honest with your boyfriend – whether it’s about how much time you spend together, how much money you spent on your dogs last month, or how often you want to have sex – is about knowing who you are and what you need from your relationships.
1. Understand what healthy boundaries are
“Boundaries define us,” write Cloud and Townsend in Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. “They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what [emotions, responsibilities, thoughts] I own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options. Boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out.”
Nobody admits that they like boundaries in relationships – but the truth is, everyone likes boundaries in relationships. Boundaries keep us safe, tell us what to expect, and protect us from different types of problems. They help us create healthy relationships with boyfriends and husbands by encouraging honesty and authenticity. Setting healthy boundaries can range from asking your boyfriend to always be honest with you to telling him that if he pushes you around one more time, you will call the police.
And, you and your boyfriend can set healthy boundaries as a couple. For example, learning how to heal codependency in your relationship is setting a boundary.
2. Learn how to set boundaries in your relationship
Leticia’s boyfriend has set his boundaries: he will continue to prioritize his work schedule over his relationship with you. That’s a boundary. That’s him deciding what’s important in his life. And, that’s him sticking to his priorities.
Your turn! You need to learn how to be honest with your boyfriend’s choices and priorities. And, you need to learn how to set healthy relationship boundaries in your own life. This gives you power and freedom! And, there are no easy tips or secrets for setting boundaries. You need to do the work. Get the Boundaries books, spend time on the questions, and learn how to heal your heart from past breakups (Beyond Boundaries is a wonderful book for this; I list it in the Resources on How to Be Honest With Your Boyfriend below). Learn how healthy relationships work.
3. Be patient as you learn how to be honest with your boyfriend
Setting healthy relationship boundaries isn’t an overnight magic trick. It’s a growth process that takes time – but boy, it’s worth it! Give yourself time to learn how it all works – and expect to keep learning no matter how established and healthy your relationship is.
You may already have experimented with a boundary, such as being honest about how your boyfriend’s work schedule makes you feel. Good, that’s great! You’re being honest with your boyfriend. You set a boundary in your relationship. That’s all you can do. You can’t force your boyfriend to change or comply with your requests.
Now…what are the consequences if your boundaries are crossed? As you learn how to set boundaries in your relationship, you also have to learn how to deal with the consequences. You have to learn how to respond when your boundaries are ignored or railroaded.
4. Prepare for a negative response from your boyfriend
“When we begin to set boundaries with people we love, a really hard thing happens: they hurt,” writes Dr Cloud. “They may feel a hole where you used to plug up their aloneness, their disorganization, or their financial irresponsibility. Whatever it is, they will feel a loss. If you love them, this will be difficult for you to watch. But, when you are dealing with someone who is hurting, remember that your boundaries are both necessary for you and helpful for them. If you have been enabling them to be irresponsible, your limit setting may nudge them toward responsibility.”
There is no getting around the fact that boundaries make waves and even cause problems in relationships. You have to expect your boyfriend NOT to be 100% (or 10%) happy with your boundaries, especially if you haven’t set boundaries in your relationship in the past. And, you must learn how to keep your boundaries even if he gets angry or hurt. You have to learn how to deal with your husband’s anger, frustration, or selfishness if you set boundaries he doesn’t like.
5. Learn how to deal with an unhappy man
At the top of this article, I said I was writing these tips on how to be honest with your boyfriend for two readers. Leticia was the first; the second is Jenny. She’s been married for several years. Setting boundaries with her husband isn’t a problem; her struggle is learning how to stick to her boundaries when her husband reacts negatively.
“I appreciate your tips on how to set boundaries in marriage,” says Jenny on How to Set Boundaries in Your Marriage. “But, how do you maintain those boundaries when your husband gets angry or frustrated with you? I understand how important it is to have relationship boundaries and I understand how to implement them. Can you help me get to the next step, which is actually sticking to the boundaries I’ve set with my husband?”
This is a great question – and Leticia is dealing with this issue as well. She’s worried she may hurt her boyfriend by being honest with him. She wants to be supportive, but she also knows what she needs. If she’s honest, she may hurt her relationship with her boyfriend. Her truth-telling will definitely cause him discomfort or even pain, because she isn’t just sitting back and letting him prioritize work over her.
Maintaining the boundaries you set involves being consistent and firm about your decisions. You also need to learn how to accept that your boyfriend may not be happy with your choices — and you have to become okay with his reaction. Read one of the books below to learn how to deal with your boyfriend’s or husband’s response to your boundaries. If you want a few quick tips, ask me to write an article in the comments section below. I can’t give specific personal advice because I don’t know you or your relationship, but I can offer tips on how to deal with the consequences of setting boundaries.
6. Allow for internal resistance: your own fear, insecurity, guilt
Not only will your boyfriend or husband feel the pain of your boundary…so will you. Pain doesn’t mean the boundary is bad or unhealthy! It just means something is changing and growing, and change and grow can be painful. Ever hear of growing pains? So, prepare yourself to feel uncomfortable or upset as you’re learning how to be honest with your boyfriend.
You’ll also have to learn how to own your decisions. “Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for your choices,” write Cloud and Townsend in Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. “You are the one who makes them. You are the one who must live with their consequences. And you are the one who may be keeping yourself from making the choices you could be happy with. We must own our own thoughts and clarify distorted thinking.
You need to own your feelings and take responsibility for your decisions and actions in your relationship. If you choose to allow your boyfriend’s priorities (eg, he chooses work over spending time with you) to continue hurting you, then you must own your feelings. This means not blaming him or putting the responsibility on his shoulders.
7. Keep learning how to be honest with your boyfriend
Don’t give up! Yes, it’s hard to learn how to set boundaries in relationships. You might even want to give up on the whole idea of being honest with your boyfriend. But, stick to your plan for honesty in all your relationships. Stay focused on the healthiness and happiness you’ll achieve, and the growth you’ll experience.
Let’s circle back to Leticia’s boyfriend’s decision to keep working weekends even thought he knows it hurts her. She was honest with her boyfriend about how his actions make her feel, and so he changed his behavior for a short time. But he’s back to doing the same old thing: working weekends. So now she has a choice: she can accept him for who he is because he can’t or won’t change, or she can start to detach emotionally from him and work on creating a life outside of her relationship. Both of those choices involve setting boundaries in her relationship. Both choices also involve learning how to be honest with her boyfriend…and being honest with herself.
What boundaries do you need to set in your relationship, and how will you be honest with your boyfriend? I welcome your comments below. I can’t give advice on how to set a boundary or be honest in your relationships, but you may find it helpful to share your experience.
Resources on How to Be Honest and Authentic in Your Relationships
In Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships, Dr John Townsend helps readers learn how to know if they’re ready to trust again … and what does it takes to be ready.
Painful relationships violate our trust, causing us to close our hearts. But to experience the freedom and love God designed us for, we eventually have to take another risk on love, on a relationship.
Beyond Boundaries will help you:
- Reinstate closeness appropriately with someone who broke your trust
- Discern when true change has occurred
- Reestablish appropriate connections in strained relationships
- Create a safe environment that helps you trust
- Restore former relationships to a healthy dynamic
- Learn to engage and be vulnerable in a new relationship as well
Whether you’re trying to restore a current relationship or begin a new one, Dr Townsend gives practical tools for establishing trust and finding the intimacy you long for. You can trust again; Beyond Boundaries will show you how.
Learn why you’re not being honest with your boyfriend
In The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone –Especially Ourselves Dan Ariely describes why we lie, cheat, and bluff our way through life.
“Recognizing our shortcomings is a crucial first step on the path to making better decisions, creating better societies, and fixing our institutions,” he says.
Why are you lying to your boyfriend? Figuring that out is a fantastic first step towards being honest with yourself…which will help you be honest with him.
Read 7 Ways to Know if Your Relationship is Worth Fighting For to help you make a decision about your boyfriend. Learning how to be honest is extremely important, but if your relationship isn’t healthy…you may be better off letting him go.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” –Maria Robinson.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.