Boundary Issues

Boundaries are vital components of all relationships and to function in the world.  They are guiding principles that help us determine how to behave, what to do and what not to do. 

The lack of boundaries can wreak havoc on relationships.  Boundaries are essential for a person to be able to meet their own needs and relate to other people in an appropriate and rational way.  Without boundaries, a person can become overly combative or overly compliant with their partner or other people. They might allow themselves to feel controlled and victimized.  Or they might try to control the other person or “fix” them.

Types of Boundary Violations

1. Job responsibilities

2. Interpersonal boundaries

3. Personal boundaries

There are 2 Types of Boundary Violations

1. Internal

2. External


Types of Boundary Violations

Boundary violations can be either external or internal. External boundary violations have to do with physical space like standing too close, unwelcome touching or behaving in too familiar a way. 

Internal boundary violations include things like taking responsibility for someone else’s thoughts, feelings or behavior.  When someone assumes that they know how you think, feel  or what you should do they are violating your internal boundaries.  When someone tells you how to conduct your life or tries to manipulate you in covert ways they are violating your boundaries.  Internal boundaries are also being violated when someone blames you for what they are feeling.

To find out more about your boundaries, look at the statements below and check those that apply to you:

  1. I often excuse or try to ignore behavior that is really unacceptable
  2. I go along with what my partner wants to keep the peace
  3. I get obsessed with what my partner is doing wrong
  4. I try to find roundabout ways of getting my partner to change
  5. I feel guilty about claiming my right to privacy and alone time
  6. I do favors I don’t want to do just because I am asked
  7. I don’t know how to avoid drama and blow-ups
  8. I stay in relationships that are probably hopeless
  9. I am afraid of disagreeing or doing something my partner won’t like
  10. My self esteem goes up or down depending on my partner
  11. I try to be perfect and not show vulnerability
  12. I have to feel “needed” in order to be in a relationship

From David Richo’s Maintaining Personal Boundaries in Relationships (The California Therapist July/August 1990.

If you check any of these statements you may need to think about the need of improving and building better, healthier boundaries.

Having good boundaries is learned in childhood.  The process of getting better at setting and keeping healthy boundaries involves looking at your early experiences that may have made you feel unwilling or unable to stick up for yourself.  For example you may have had a family situation that discouraged or punished you for asking for what you needed or for expressing your feelings.  You may have had experiences that left you with a fear of abandonment and insecurity about whether you can put your needs first.

People who suffer from love or sex addiction regularly struggle with their own and other people's boundaries. If you think you have an issue with boundaries you might want to read the section on sex addiction and love addiction.

You might want to consider calling NYCSAT for an initial assessment to discuss your history and issue with boundary problems or violations.

To schedule a confidential consultation in person or by phone email us or call at 212.665.7352


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