6 Boundaries We Need To Be Setting


Ever feel drained around others? Feel like you can’t ever say “no”? Do ever feel like you are used or taken advantage, even by friends or family? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you probably need to set some boundaries.

What are boundaries?!?

Boundaries are the basic guidelines of how you want to be treated. These guidelines we establish are healthy and help us feel empowered. Setting boundaries gives us permission to say no to things. Boundaries help us with self-esteem, self-worth, and overall personal comfort. When we don’t set boundaries, we often feel like we have been taken advantage of or drained. Oftentimes, poor boundaries lead to burnout, resentment, or anger.

It is important we set boundaries for ourselves. So let’s talk about the six types of boundaries we should be setting.

Topic Of Discussion

#1 Physical Boundaries

Physical boundaries are the guidelines we set regarding our bodies, our touch, and our space. This can also include when we eat and drink, and when we are active or resting. It is perfectly fine for us to tell people that we do not want to be touched or want to touch others. We are allowed to voice whether or not we are hungry or if we need to rest.

Examples of setting physical boundaries may include:

  • “I’m not much of a hugger. I’m more of a handshake person.”
  • “I’m hungry. I’m going to go get something.”
  • “I’m feeling really tired. I need to take a rest.”
  • “No. I don’t like it when you touch me like that.”
  • “I get uncomfortable when people are too close to me. Could you take a step back?”

When our physical boundaries are crossed or violated, we often feel like we are receiving inappropriate or unwanted touches. Sometimes. physical boundary violations are when we are being denied our physical needs (such as not being allowed to rest or pressured into being more active; being told we have to wait to eat or drink). Other individuals being in our personal space is also a physical boundary violation. Examples of this may look like, people standing too close to us or going into our room or through our belongings without permission. The most severe physical boundary violations are physical abuse or neglect.

#2 Sexual Boundaries

Sexual boundaries are when we set rules regarding consent, about safety, and anything related to our sexual preferences and desires. When entering a new intimate relationship (or begin to feel uncomfortable in an existing relationship), it is important for us to have a conversation with our partner(s) to discuss one another’s sexual boundaries. While this may feel or seem uncomfortable, it is important to have these conversations and follow the boundaries so everyone feels comfortable and safe.

Healthy sexual boundaries may sound like or include:

  • Asking for consent
  • Saying no to things you do not like or is painful
  • Discussing the use of condoms or contraception
  • “Tell me what you like.”
  • “I’m not really into [insert desire here]. Can we try this instead?”
  • “I don’t feel like having sex tonight. Can we cuddle instead?”

Sexual boundary violations may look like: not asking for consent, pressure to engage in sexual acts, or being critical of another person’s sexual preferences. When someone: sulks, punishes us, or gets angry when we don’t want to have sex, may also be a violation of our sexual boundaries. Sexual boundary violations also include: unwanted touch, assault, and rape.

#3 Emotional Boundaries

Emotional boundaries are the guidelines we set regarding what we are comfortable with sharing with others. Emotional boundaries also means taking control over how we are being treated. When we put emotional boundaries into place and they are kept, we feel respected and honored. These boundaries have everything to do with: knowing the emotional energy we have the ability of taking in, knowing when and when not to share, and limiting any emotional sharing to those who may respond poorly. When our emotional boundaries are honored, we feel validated and others are aware of how much emotional information we can take in. When we respect other’s emotional boundaries, we are ensuring they feel their emotions are valid and are aware of how much emotional information they can take in.

Emotional boundaries might sound like:

  • “Talking to you makes me feel unheard. I ask that you don’t belittle my experience.”
  • “I’m sorry you are having a tough time. Right now, I’m not in a place to take in this information. Could we talk about it at another time?”
  • “I’m having a hard time and need to talk. Are you in a place to listen right now?”

When our emotional boundaries are violated it might look like: others dismissing or criticizing our feelings, asking us to justify our feelings, or others going through our personal information. We may be violating other individual’s emotional boundaries by: assuming we know how they feel, telling others how they feel, venting or emotionally “dumping” on others without their permission, or sharing inappropriate information with our children.

#4 Intellectual Boundaries

Intellectual boundaries are the rules we set regarding anything related to our thoughts, ideas and perceptions. When our intellectual boundaries are respected, others respect our ideas, and we respect the ideas other people have.When our intellectual boundaries are violated, our opinions or thoughts may be shut down, dismissed or minimized. To uphold intellectual boundaries it is important to be respectful and also being willing to listen and understand one another.

Upholding intellectual boundaries may sound like:

  • “Can you respect that we have different opinions on this topic?”
  • “I know we disagree, but I won’t let you belittle me like that.”
  • “I can respect that we have different opinions ons on [insert topic here].”

This does not mean we have to accept all thoughts or opinions. It is important to recognize the difference in healthy and unhealthy conversation. If someone is making comments that are harmful to us or others (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.), we have the right to set a boundary against such speech. This could look like: letting the person know we are not going to tolerate that type of speech, distancing ourselves from the individual, or cutting them off (if needed).

#5 Time Boundaries

Time boundaries are the guidelines we put in in place regarding how we spend our time and priorities. It is important to realize that our time is valuable. So we have to protect how we use it. It is important to set time boundaries at home, socially, and occupationally. Setting time boundaries means that we have an understanding of what is important to us, prioritize those things, and set a side enough time for other things with out overcommitting ourselves or over-stretching ourselves. When we understand our priorities, it may be a little easier to limit the we give to others.

Setting healthy time boundaries may sound like:

  • “I can only stay and hang for an hour today, I have a lot to get done.”
  • “We have family time on [insert day here]. We won’t be able to make it.”
  • “Sorry. I can’t hang out this weekend.”
  • “Do you have time to chat today?”

When time boundaries are violated, it may look like: demanding time from people, showing up late or canceling on others last minute because we overcommitted, or contacting people when they said they were unavailable.

#6 Financial Boundaries

Financial boundaries are when we set boundaries regarding our spending habits and controlling our budgetary priorities. It is important to know when you can or cannot share money or material things with others. Setting financial boundaries aren’t always just applied to other people. Sometimes, we have to set financial boundaries with ourselves to ensure we don’t cause ourselves financial hardships.

Setting healthy financial boundaries may sound like:

  • “I am going to set aside $20 to spend tonight so I can stay within my budget.”
  • “We can’t give anymore money, but we would love to help in another way.”
  • “I’m not going to shop this sale. I’m going to work on spending less.”

When our financial boundaries are violated or we violate the financial boundaries of others, it can place us or others in unnecessary financial hardships. It can also put a strain or awkwardness on our relationships with family and friends. Financial boundary violations may look like: frequently buying things we don’t need just because it’s on sale, feeling pressure or being pressured to loan others money, or frequently asking or hinting to others about loaning you money.

When our personal boundaries are crossed, we can feel defeated, violated, and angry. It is important that we explore what boundaries are important to us to ensure we have healthy, happy, and peaceful lives. Do you need help setting boundaries? Or has someone violated your boundaries, and you need help processing it? Tri-Star Counseling can help. Schedule an appointment with us, so we can help you to set clear boundaries for yourself so you can have a healthy life.

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