By Eleanor Beeslaar
What exactly do healthy boundaries look like?
Healthy boundaries are a key element in your physical, mental, and emotional health. They look different for each person and relationship, and they may change over time. Healthy boundaries are also bidirectional; they involve communicating your wants and needs in a relationship, while also respecting the wants and needs of the other person in the relationship.
Boundaries can be both physical and emotional. Physical boundaries involve what you are comfortable with regarding personal space, touch, privacy, and sexual contact. Emotional boundaries, on the other hand, encompass the line between your feelings and the feelings of others. This looks like taking responsibility for your own feelings and recognizing that you cannot control what others feel. It also involves being aware of what you do/do not feel comfortable sharing with others and honoring those limits.
Here are just a few examples of what healthy boundaries might look like:
- Valuing your personal boundaries and not compromising them for someone else.
- Saying “no” and accepting when others say “no.”
- Knowing who you are and what you want, and communicating that to others.
- Engaging in appropriate sharing.
- Not letting others define you or your sense of self-worth.
- Knowing that your needs and feelings are just as important as the needs and feelings of others.
- Knowing that you have the right to your emotions and feelings.
- Respecting others’ values, beliefs, and opinions, while knowing that you do not have to compromise your own values, beliefs, and opinions.
Regardless of what type of boundaries you are talking about, it’s important to keep in mind that healthy boundaries are all about you and the other person in the relationship’s wants, needs, and limits being honored and respected. It’s also important to remember that healthy boundaries take effort and intentionality to implement and maintain. Healthy boundaries can also help prevent relationship abuse by helping individuals understand the difference between what is acceptable vs. unacceptable behavior in different types of relationships.
What do unhealthy boundaries look like?
Now that we have a better understanding of what healthy boundaries look like, let’s talk about unhealthy boundaries. Unhealthy boundaries involve a disregard for your own and others’ values, wants, needs, and limits. They can also lead to potentially abusive dating/romantic relationships and increase the chances of other types of abusive relationships as well.
Here are some examples of what unhealthy boundaries may look like:
- Disrespecting the values, beliefs, and opinions of others when you do not agree with them.
- Not saying “no” or not accepting when others say “no.”
- Feeling like you are responsible for other people’s feelings and/or happiness.
- Feeling like you are responsible for “fixing” or “saving” others.
- Touching people without their permission.
- Engaging in sexual activity without clear consent from the other person.
We hope that today’s blog has helped you gain a better understanding of what healthy vs. unhealthy boundaries look like. We encourage you to keep this information in mind as you set boundaries in your relationships!
We will also be sharing more about how to set healthy boundaries in your relationships in tomorrow’s blog, so be sure to stay tuned!