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“Healthy boundaries should feel like a sense of agency in the person setting them,” Kennedy says. “There is confidence, there is clarity, there is directness, those are in services of safety, self-respect, and respect of others. Setting a boundary is about your own agency.”

“Toxic is a relational term of how someone affects another. Toxic people will leave you feeling bad: edgy, guilty, confused, frustrated, overextended. They lack boundaries and ask too much from you, so you leave exchanges feeling violated and exhausted. They make assumptions, expect too much, disregard your ‘no’ answers,” Kennedy says.

“In fact, picking a fight may even feel good,” says Jenn Kennedy, a marriage and family therapist in Santa Barbara, California. Some people may even use jealousy as proof of their love, but that quickly wears thin. “Typically jealousy slides into insecurity, defensiveness, and mistrust. Calming down jealousy is difficult and the longer it lasts, the more it hurts the relationship,” she explains.

“Boundaries give a sense of agency over one’s physical space, body, and feelings,” says Jenn Kennedy, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “We all have limits, and boundaries communicate that line.”

So, how do we recognize when we are engaging in these less apparent types of people-pleasing behaviors? Jenn Kennedy, LMFT suggests asking yourself the following questions: “Did you say yes when you really wanted to say no? Did you quiet your voice because it didn’t please or echo someone else who you deem important? Does it seem like you are overextending?” “If so,” she says, “try pushing back on these habits and see what comes of it.”

“People in relationships are constantly asking themselves, in one way or another, if they can trust the other person. Can they show their flaws, or risk being embarrassed? The way to move past this fear is to take measured risks,” says licensed marriage and family therapist, Jenn Kennedy.

“Setting a boundary is about having your own agency,” Kennedy says. “Healthy boundaries should be assertive, but not aggressive. They are clear and concise, and it’s an expression of the idea that there is a desire to have things a certain way. You are saying, this is what I need for my bubble.”

Jenn entertains her readers with her dynamic career and how it has ultimately led her to her “third incarnation” as a psychotherapist. Within her clinical capacity, she also shines as a savvy business owner as well as a supervisor. She shares how her experience as a teaching faculty at Antioch helps inform the depth of her clinical work as well as balancing it out.

“My “unhealthy” alarm goes off when someone reports negative self-talk after interacting with family members. They may return to past beliefs that they are somehow flawed, unloveable or even “broken.” That crosses the line to unhealthy, whereas difficult looks like you feeling annoyed or having to tread carefully.”

“You know a relationship is in trouble when contempt shows up in the couple’s communication, marriage and family therapist, Jenn Kennedy, tells Bustle. That’s when you make little digs or passive aggresive comments to each other. You may not personally see it as a huge deal or you may even write it off as “just a joke,” but you never know how hurtful those comments can be to your partner.”

A more professional rendition of the ever-popular: treat yourself. “Across the board, the one thing that seems to make the most difference is self-care,” says Marriage and Family Therapist Jenn Kennedy.

Gwyenth Paltrow’s Goop.com made the term Conscious Uncoupling a household name in recent years. Coined by Katherine Woodward Thomas, the term has come to describe a civil and intentioned approach, adopted by couples, who have decided to break up. Hallmark signs of conscious uncoupling include mutuality, reason and acceptance.

Just because you get along well with someone’s relatives (and maybe like them even better than your own) isn’t a reason to stay with them and avoid a breakup. “You are partnered with the person and therefore your daily life is with them—not their family,” says Jenn Kennedy, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist located in Santa Barbara, CA.

Recently I saw a couple who perfectly illustrated a common quandary. Both individuals lead busy lives. They are doing their best to juggle the everyday demands of life—a particularly hectic work patch for one, family stressors coupled with financial worry for the other. Each is somewhat consumed with their respective stressors.

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