Do you know the difference between boundaries and agreements? It’s an important distinction. Boundaries are energetic lines that you set around yourself, they define your own integrity, whereas agreements are mutual understandings between people, they define relationships. 

Setting Up Relationship Boundaries 

It’s important to define how you like to be treated so that you can be at your best. This is not just a question of where your skin ends but what about your personal space, and your sense of safety at home. Boundaries can exist in words, actions and space. Most boundaries have to do with the manner in which we are spoken to, the physical space we share with others and the requests that are made of us by friends, family, clients and lovers.   

Ideally, we are proactive about setting our boundaries, but oftentimes we don’t even know we have a boundary until it gets crossed. Many people wait until boundaries are broken before and they feel they are being mistreated or that something broke down for the millionth time before they finally realize they have to set a specific boundary.

Relationship Boundaries Examples

Here are a few examples of personal, romantic and sexual boundaries:

  • Please take your shoes off before entering my temple
  • I don’t kiss anyone if they are sick
  • I don’t answer the phone when I am on a date. 
  • I ask my lovers to wash their hands before touching my genitals
  • I will not have sex with someone unless we’ve had a conversation about our relationship status, sexual health history and safer sex standards. 
  • I will not have penetrative sex without a condom
  • I don’t engage in oral sex unless I’ve seen someone’s genitals in the light. 
  • My friends and family are not allowed to raise their voice at me in anger
  • I don’t’ tolerate gossip about others, I will ask you to talk directly to that person. 

These boundaries  are from my book, Sacred Sexual Healing: The SHAMAN Method of Sex Magic by BabaDez Nichols & Kamala Devi (Note this book was published  before I took my husband’s last name and changed it to KamalaDevi McClure and it’s Available on Amazon.) It contains over 20 spiritual practices and exercises and goes into much greater depth about how to set boundaries. 

We suggest you set boundaries in all areas of your life, not just personal, romantic and sexual, but professional, family and social. It also suggests you look at all the arguments, challenges and frustrations that you recently have had and ask yourself: Where did my boundaries get crossed? 

The other person doesn’t have to necessarily agree with every boundary we have. And, that doesn’t make them a terrible person, it only means you will need to negotiate that particular boundary and come to an understanding. It’s important to note that boundaries are how we like to be treated, personally, whereas agreements are co-creations. Creating rules for someone will not produce the same results as an invitation for them to participate with you discussing how you like to be treated and have them opt in, and even agree on a mutual repair strategy if a boundary is crossed. 

Negotiating Relationship Agreements 

It is up to each individual to decide what they are comfortable within a relationship and then negotiate boundaries with each of their partners. The negotiation may look like a graceful dance or a crunchy compromise, but it is always a co-creation. 

Assumptions about relationship agreements are neither advisable nor acceptable. Clear communication is absolutely vital to the success of any relationship. Many people are afraid to start a discussion for fear of rocking the boat, but if you are able to speak to the very thing you are afraid of saying, it will set you free. This co-creation is an art that takes practice but ultimately leads to a greater understanding of self and others. When we have spoken or written agreements, everyone feels safer and can move forward with a greater sense of trust and freedom. 


In our kindle booklet, Polyamory Roadmap, we offer 20 questions to help you negotiate your desires and agreements in the relationship. Here are a few more examples of relationship agreements to hopefully inspire you to review your own. 

  • Sexual or Romantic Bottom Lines: It’s important to explicitly agree on the specific behaviour that is acceptable vs. what behaviour would cause the relationship to cease to exist. Such as violence, dishonesty, drug addiction, etc. 
  • Tell All Policy: We agree to transparent disclosure about any flirtations, romantic or sexual encounters, this can include fantasies and attractions. (You can also make an agreement about when and how to discuss other partners)
  • Prior Approval: We agree to only move into sexual territory with a new partner if our primary partner has met them and is comfortable. 
  • Condom Commitment: We use condoms for penetration with everyone except the fluid bonded partner. 
  • Low Drama. Because compulsive emotional processing can be counterproductive and addictive, we can place a limit on when or how long or how often relationship issues are discussed. I agree to only add partners that are enhancing my previously existing partners. 

It’s valuable to discuss what happens when agreements are broken. We must be understanding that it’s not easy to set new boundaries and agreements and it takes practice and forgiveness when we mess up. Let’s agree to our relationships the benefit of the doubt, maybe they forgot, misunderstood or didn’t know that they weren’t supposed to say something or do something. And sometimes it takes a gentle reminder to help your partner understand your boundaries.

Remember agreements are when two or more people mutually agree on how they want to treat each other, they are not imposed on each other like rules or limits. And one person may have a really different boundary than the other person and the agreements don’t have to be symmetrical, or fair. 

Course Correct Boundaries & Agreements Often

If we want to continue to grow as individuals, and in our relationships, we must be sensitive to shifting feelings and needs and willing to course correct our boundaries and agreements. Neither is static.  Sometimes we must shift these energetic lines to avoid pain and other times we stretch them to allow for more growth. 

First, we must practice self-awareness to create accurate boundaries that come from our clear center. And we must recognize that our boundaries shift when we are in our center vs. when we are in our wounding. We must create time and space to check in with ourselves and our relationships regularly. Perhaps setting regular periods of evaluation to course correct and revise any agreements that we may have outgrown.

Levels of Boundaries in Relationships

People can have high standards for boundaries, and they can have medium- or low standards. Ask yourself how important is this boundary or agreement, at what point are you willing to walk away. Some people are like, ‘Oh, this line is getting crossed, but I’m going to give that person 3 warnings’ because maybe they will forget, maybe they will cross your boundary a few times, and you will need to coach them. And others reach the same point and might start to feel like a doormat. 

The question is what is your repair strategy when that boundary has been crossed? 

The conversation you need to have with your partner should be focused on resolving the issue, not blaming them. It should be your invitation to your partner to talk about your boundaries. In relationships, you will need to explain clearly how you feel and what you want so the other person can meet you where you need them to. 

And then get clear, When is the behavior no longer acceptable? When do you opt out of the conversation or the relationship?

Powerful Exceptions 

Going back to the example of taking shoes before entering a house, let’s look at it as a metaphor. There will be people that are not willing to take their shoes off, (maybe they have inserted or didn’t bring socks) so you will need to meet them on the porch or let them clean the bottom of their shoes. Sometimes, maybe you will have a repairman coming to your house to fix something and you will need to accept that you will have to mop the floor after they leave. 

It’s completely fine to make exceptions for your boundaries, but what’s important is the people with who you’re regularly getting engaged ideally will understand what your boundaries are and work to try to meet them even if that’s not their habit. 


Repair Strategy: Coming back to Love

When your relationship agreements are not clearly defined and updated regularly with all parties consenting, there may be cracks or wounds. You may start guarding yourself to protect yourself from the pain and from the person who is causing it, and this could harm your relationship. 

Becoming more aware of how you are crossing each other’s boundaries can be painful, but it can be a doorway to more clear communication and repair. Relationship repair should do it from the place of presence, not guilt, blame, or anything else that will be counterproductive when your intention is to come back to love. 

Being in Love means being willing to listen and understand, not judge and hold on to limiting beliefs. Do not underestimate your partner. By having a belief that someone is like this or like that, you will start making a whole case about this person with all the situations that support that limited belief, until it becomes your reality. If I were to believe that my husband is not honoring our relationship agreements, I can easily find so many examples of him wiggling through loopholes. If you still decide to keep your limiting beliefs, there is no conversation or repair strategy that will help you change how things are in your relationship and how you feel about it. 

You both can feel differently about the same thing, for instance, kissing another person in a certain situation, but once one person says they are not comfortable with it, the other person should respect their partner’s boundary. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just create another boundary, like more lines and rules to try to make you feel safe. You should take the time and understand what need or purpose the boundary is serving and do the deeper work to see if that boundary is actually limiting you and your growth. So, instead of creating more relationship agreements that will not work, work on your attunement. Feel each other’s feelings and needs so that you can make agreements from a place of connection and compassion.

Relationship Boundaries Are Training Wheels

 Boundaries can be used as training wheels or crutches while we are healing and then when we are more skilled or fully healed we may not need that boundary anymore.

Part of the work to repair our injured bond is removing your cracked lens and the other part of it is apology or understanding that that bond still needs some repair. What can you take responsibility for? What do they need to hear to trust you? Different people have different apology styles. For instance, your partner may need to hear that you’re never going to do it again, while it will be more important for you to hear that they understand why you feel this way and that he would probably feel the same if it were them. 

You are the one responsible for your emotions and boundaries. And it’s not so much of a question of who and when will they cross your boundaries, it’s about how will you handle it once they are crossed? 

A part of the reason we make these agreements is to create more connection, we’re intending to treat each other in a way that brings out the best in each other and to create a relationship container that operates with these parameters. Expect that they will slip up, and expect that you will slip up too, but how will you show up to the recovery of that slip up? If you keep your limiting beliefs, there will be no room for growth, because real growth happens when we make mistakes and learn from it. 

If you enjoyed this article and want more, order my Sacred Sexual Healing book or my other books that you enjoy during this festive season. 

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