While it's common knowledge that emotional boundaries are vital in a relationship, some smaller, more everyday boundaries might get overlooked. Often, these are little habits one partner has that they don't notice bother their partner, even if their partner has already said it's bothered them. But when it comes to
boundaries not to cross in a relationship, even these small things have to be respected.
You may not realize it, but
consent in a relationship is about a lot more than sex. There are certain things that are perfectly fine to do around your partner if you've both agreed they are no big deal, but could really bother someone if things haven't been discussed, or your partner has outright said it isn't alright with them. "Boundaries are important because they teach self-value and respect," Katie Ziskind, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), tells Bustle. So it's really important to take inventory of what you and your partner feel comfortable doing around each other, and adjusting from there.
How you and your partner discuss these boundaries and deal with them says a lot about your relationship. "Sometimes they may forget, so you need to remind them nicely," relationship expert and spiritual counselor,
Davida Rappaport, tells Bustle. "However if they refuse to respect your boundaries, deliberately, you may need to decide how important your boundaries are to you or if you are in the right relationship." You, too, should hold yourself to these standards. And there are certain things that bother a good amount of people, that you should check in about sooner rather than later.
Here are eight "gross" things that may cross your partner's boundaries, according to experts.
If your partner has indicated that they don't like having their feet touched in general, you don't have a free pass to ignore this
just because you are their partner. "Some people are very uncomfortable having their feet touched, or even seen without socks or shoes," David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "So, while it may seem natural to just touch someone's feet, a good number of people are weirded out by it." So be careful with this one.
"Many people think that because they are in a relationship and are intimate with their partners, that they can touch them at any point in time they feel the urge or desire to do so," Rappaport says, "[...] However, if you try to do this without asking your partner first, you may have crossed a boundary." See this habit as an exercise in practicing healthy consent and communication between the two of you.
Using Their Utensils Or Eating Their Food
When you're in the kitchen with your partner, a lot of habits and quirks may come to light. But if you have a habit of using or sharing their food or utensils, and they don't seem OK with it, don't keep doing it just because you think it's "no big deal."
"Some people feel instantly comfortable eating off each other's plates, sharing utensils, and drinking from each other's glasses," Bennett says. "Other people consider it gross. So, even if they feel OK kissing you, that doesn't necessarily mean they are up for sharing a glass or food." Let your partner decide what feels right for them in this regard, and you can expect them to respect your needs as well.
You may feel some boundaries break down as you and your partner enter into a more long-term, or intimate relationship, but there are some things you still need to be careful about if your partner has indicated it in the past. One is hygiene, particularly of the
"We can’t all avoid the dreaded
morning breath, but forgetting to brush your teeth the night before is a no-no," Backe says. "It might have been fine as a one-off in your single days when you got back from a late night out, but now that you’re sharing a bed with someone else it’s common courtesy to brush your teeth religiously morning and night." Backe says. If your partner has let you know it's OK if you forget once and a while, that's fine, but a nightly brushing is good for both you and your partner.
Clipping Your Nails In Front Of Them
Some people feel weird about feet. So if your partner is one of those people, it's up to you not only to keep the foot-touching to a minimum, but also to not get too grisly with the foot cleaning in front of them.
You may not want to do any foot upkeep in front of your partner, especially if they expressed it makes them uncomfortable, Backe says. So you can keep the pumice stone in the bathroom, and the toenail clippings in the trash. Plus, going on a
pedicure date is a really cute way of avoiding this issue altogether. Showering together can be really fun. But unless you both agree it's a hygienic, good-for-the-environment, and not-gross option, you should try to avoid peeing in the shower while your partner is also in it.
"The ‘peeing in the shower’ debacle is questionable as is when you’re on your own in the shower so [you should not] be doing that when you’re both in there," Backe says. If you're desperate, hop out and use the toilet for a second.
Not Giving Them Any Physical Privacy
If you and your partner share housing, it's important that you still allow them some space for personal privacy. Regardless of whether you two are introverts or extroverts, you shouldn't expect to be around each other all the time.
"While many couple live in small apartments, condos or homes, there may not be enough space for them to have privacy when they want it," Rappaport says, "[...] If your partner doesn’t realize that you need to be left alone or do not want to be interrupted, you need to have the conversation as that can be considered a boundary violation." And if you always sit near them when they're trying to be quite and self-reflective, you might want to ask if that set-up is right for them.
Not Closing The Bathroom Door
Knocking on the door is an important thing to do. Closing the door in the first place is also important, especially if your partner has noted that your open-door habit might make them uncomfortable.
On the flip side, it's important to be OK with your partner closing the door when they're in the bathroom themselves. "Most people really have a problem having the door open when they are having bowel movement for obvious reasons," Rappaport says. "Not everyone wants to share the intimate details about how they take care of their bodily needs." So, it's important to discuss your boundaries about the bathroom and how open the two of you want to be about these rituals. One of you may love a door open while you read and bathe, but one may consider that sacred, private me-time.
Using Their Toothbrush Or Razor
Just like not sharing your partner's kitchen items is important if they've indicated they like to keep these things separate, keeping your bathroom items separate is also important.
Toothbrushes and razors should stay separate for
sanitary reasons, but also for reasons of boundaries and respect. "If for some reason, someone decides on impulse to use their partner’s [razors or toothbrushes], this is a boundary that should not be crossed," Rappaport says. Overstepping these boundaries even just once can be a small reminder why communication is key.
Regardless what your quirks are, or what your partner doesn't like, there's a way to find balance in a relationship where neither of you overstep one another's boundaries. It does, however, rely on you taking some inventory of what your most common habits are, and whether your partner feels comfortable with them.