Personal boundaries are limitations and rules that we set among ourselves in interpersonal relationships. A person with correct boundaries can say “no” to someone if he or she wants to but is able to open up to intimacy and close relationships while feeling comfortable.
A person who always keeps other people at bay (emotionally, physically, or otherwise) has rigid boundaries. On the other hand, a person who tends to be too involved has loose limits.
Basic Features Of Rigid, Loose, And Healthy Borders:
Rigid Personal Boundaries
- Avoiding intimacy and close interpersonal relationships.
- Avoiding asking for help.
- A small number of interpersonal relationships.
- Be very careful with personal information.
- Feeling isolated, even in a romantic relationship.
- Keeping other people at bay to avoid rejection.
- Excessive sharing of personal information.
- Difficulty saying “no” to the other person.
- Excessive involvement in other people’s problems.
- Being dependent on the opinions of others.
- Accepting bullying or disrespect.
- Fear of rejection if you don’t conform to others.
- Valuing your opinion.
- No concessions on your values.
- Sharing personal information in the correct degree (non-restrained and not excessive).
- Being aware of your needs and desires and the ability to communicate them.
- Accepting situations where the other person says “no.”
Most people have a mixed type of boundary, e.g. one person may have healthy boundaries at work, lose boundaries in romantic relationships, and all kinds of boundaries in family relationships. The types presented above are not universal!
The correctness of the boundaries depends largely on the environment. A topic may be appropriate for a group of friends, but not appropriate for a job.
Expectations about personal boundaries vary depending on the cultural environment.
Types Of Personal Borders
Physical boundaries relate to personal space and physical contact. Healthy physical boundaries are knowing which behaviors are appropriate and which are not appropriate under certain circumstances (a hug, a handshake, or a kiss?). Physical boundaries are violated when the other person touches us when we don’t want to, or violates our personal space (for example, by searching our bedroom).
Intellectual boundaries are about opinions and ideas. Healthy intellectual boundaries are respecting other people’s opinions and knowing what is appropriate in a given discussion (should we talk about weather or politics?). Intellectual boundaries are violated when someone dismisses or belittles someone else’s opinion or idea.
Emotional Boundaries Are About Feelings
Healthy emotional boundaries provide the ability to adequately share information from your personal life – what we should and shouldn’t talk about in a given situation, such as gradually sharing details as the relationship develops, as opposed to revealing all the details at once.
Sexual boundaries deal with the emotional, intellectual, and physical aspects of sexuality. Healthy sexual limits are based on mutual awareness and respect for each other’s desires and limitations. These boundaries can be violated by unwanted sexual contact, pressure to force sexual behavior, or sexually suggestive comments.
Material boundaries relate to money and private property. Healthy material boundaries are a reasonable limitation of what we share and who we share with. For example, it may be appropriate to lend the car to a family member, but not to lend the car to someone we’ve just met.
Time boundaries are about how a person uses their time. Healthy time boundaries mean making sure you have enough time for various aspects of your life – such as work, relationships, and interests.