Becoming Invested In A Relationship: Setting Healthy Boundaries

Updated April 2, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Being in a new relationship can be exciting- especially when looking forward to the future with your partner. As you build a healthy relationship with another person, you’ll likely become more emotionally invested in the partnership. Often, emotional investment occurs naturally, and each relationship operates on its own “timeline.” 

Having an emotional investment means that you care about cultivating a healthy relationship. In healthy relationships:

  • Partners care about the other’s feelings. 

  • When there are problems in the relationship, they’ll want to talk about them to solve them. 

  • Quality time is essential in a healthy relationship; if an emotional investment is there, the desire for quality time will also be there. 

  • People in emotionally invested relationships show interest in their partner’s interests and experiences. This shows healthy emotional investment through interest and respect.

  • Healthy boundaries are recognized and respected.

Getty / courtneyk
Setting boundaries is healthy in any relationship

While it may be full of exciting possibilities, the idea of a bonded, long-term partnership can evoke anxiety and even fear for some people. For example, those who have experienced the fallout from a toxic or abusive partnership may feel vulnerable and exposed to further pain when emotionally invested.  

Some fear the potential rejection and uncertainty involved in a fully committed relationship. Others may feel unsure of their ability to stay committed and whether they can fulfill a long-term promise to their partner. People whose partner has codependent personality disorder may be wary of becoming emotionally invested in the relationship as well. 

If you don’t know how to recognize feelings of emotional investment or know there is an emotional disparity between you and your partner in the relationship, there are a couple of things to keep in mind: 

Communication is essential

Have an open dialogue with your partner about your feelings. If there are things you don't feel comfortable discussing or something is a sensitive topic for you, set a boundary and let your partner know. Some people don't find that easy, but transparency matters if you want to be emotionally invested in a relationship- and if you need to set some boundaries. 

Learning to set boundaries from the start establishes a good foundation for the relationship and ensures that you feel respected in the partnership. If you're unsure about the boundaries you need to set or aren't sure how to do it, it's okay to take some time to think about how you feel. Don't be afraid to voice your thoughts about what you want. If it helps you to write out your feelings before you verbalize them, that's an excellent first step to take.

Self-awareness is important too. 

Try writing about how you feel in a journal. The action of journaling can help you get to the root of your feelings and determine whether you’re ready to cultivate an emotionally invested relationship. If you need to set boundaries but aren’t sure how- write down your concerns and read them out loud to yourself. If it helps you to talk to a friend and read them what you wrote, that's something you can also try.

Know the difference between love vs. Unhealthy emotional attachment

Distinguishing love from emotional attachment in a relationship often requires us to look at where our feelings are directed and how the relationship influences them. If it’s love, your feelings will likely be affectionate, selfless, and balanced. If it’s an unhealthy emotional attachment, you may focus on the relationship’s imperfections or how it can better serve you. In cases of emotional attachment, a person or situation may have a distorted impact on your feelings. You may feel as though the partnership almost drives your emotions. 

Establishing healthy boundaries in relationships

Boundaries are often a crucial piece of what makes a relationship solid and capable of standing the test of time.  Allowing a partner to do things that make you feel uncomfortable can create negative feelings such as anger, sadness, and resentment. For example, let's say your partner teases you about something that makes you uncomfortable. If you allow the behavior to continue without letting them know it hurts you, they may not know they should stop. If you ask them to stop, but they continue to tease you, it can cause considerable problems within your relationship. Setting healthy boundaries when needed will help you feel good about yourself and your relationship.


How to set boundaries

Boundaries allow you to express your needs and respect what your partner needs. One might set boundaries around their emotions, body or physical self, morals, and values, or what they need sexually. If you don't care for being touched a certain way, for example, you can tell your partner, "I don't enjoy this," or "this isn't comfortable for me." Then, you can tell them what you do like and ask about what modifications you can make to make things enjoyable for both of you. 

If there are things about your mental health that you don't want to discuss, speak up and tell them that you don't feel comfortable when they bring up a specific topic. If your partner is the one that sets a boundary with you, make sure to hear them out and think about how acknowledging this boundary will help your relationship. Listening when they express their needs is vital because it shows that you care about them. It shows that you respect them as a whole person and care about making the connection last.

Boundaries to better know each other

Learning your boundaries can help your partner gain a more profound sense of who you are, what makes you comfortable or uncomfortable, and what you need.  When people tell you what makes them uncomfortable, respecting these things is essential. Learning and honoring your partner's boundaries can help you know them better and bring you closer together. Boundaries allow people to appreciate what you value and vice versa. 

Boundaries and blame

It can be tempting to blame others for the way that we feel. Sometimes, emotions are uncomfortable, and setting a boundary empowers you to acknowledge them without blaming your partner for how you feel. Your partner might do something that ignites an adverse reaction in you, but you're responsible for what you do moving forward. Setting boundaries is an excellent place to begin. 

Getty/Halfpoint Images
Setting boundaries is healthy in any relationship

Also, remember that your partner won’t usually know what you don't tell them. You might walk around feeling angry because your loved one did something that bothers you, but if you don't express that to them, they won't likely know it. Communicate and let them know what bothers you and how that impacts you. 

Communication is vital in all relationships, and this is one of the many ways that the need for communication shows up. Most of the time, people will express understanding and react positively. If they don't, you might have to continue to state your boundary. Depending on what it is and how it affects you, you may have to distance yourself from that person.

Take steps to establish relationship boundaries in online therapy

Healthy relationships require balance and communication. If you believe yours has those qualities, it may be time to allow yourself to become more emotionally invested in your relationship- and set respectful boundaries to ensure it stays healthy.  Whether you’re looking for guidance on how to become more emotionally invested in your relationship or if you simply have trouble setting boundaries with your partner, speaking with a professional can help. 

People in relationships of all types find that couples therapy can help in various ways. In therapy, couples often learn more about each other and how they interact. It can provide a forum for productive communication. Therapy can help couples use the information and tools they’ve acquired to move forward and cultivate a healthy relationship.  

Despite its usefulness, some couples don’t seek the help of a relationship counselor. For example, they may feel uncomfortable about meeting for sessions in person. Finding time to commute to and attend sessions during a busy work week can be difficult. And some couples don’t have convenient couples therapy in their area.

Online therapy is an excellent alternative to traditional therapy for overcoming these barriers and more. Platforms like Regain match couples with experienced relationship counselors from a myriad of backgrounds and provide a convenient place for them to get help together. Appointments are arranged according to your schedule, and you can speak with a Regain counselor from home or anywhere with an internet connection via phone, text, online messaging, and video chat. If you’d rather talk to a counselor about a relationship on your own, Regain offers the same benefits for individuals as well. 

Online therapy is also as effective as traditional therapy for helping couples overcome challenges, as well as assisting individuals in addressing their own mental health issues. For example, a research article published in Frontiers in Psychology reported on the efficacy of online therapy for 30 couples ranging from 21 to 60 years old. The results indicated improvement in relationship satisfaction, treatment adhesion, and improvements in the individual mental health of the participants.


Whether you see an individual therapist or couples' counselor, online therapy is an excellent place to uncover the sources of difficulty in your relationships. A therapist can also guide you to understand better your needs and what you value independently so you can contribute to a long-lasting, healthy relationship with your partner.

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