Personal boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships. A person with healthy boundaries can say “no” to others when they want to, but they are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships.
Understanding the types of personal boundaries will help you to distinguish which areas you need to focus.
1. Physical Boundaries
Refer to personal space and physical touch. Healthy physical boundaries include an awareness of what’s appropriate, and what’s not, in various settings and types of relationships (hug, shake hands, or kiss?). Physical boundaries may be violated if someone touches you when you don’t want them to, or when they invade your personal space (for example, rummaging through your bedroom or personal belongings).
2. Intellectual Boundaries
Refer to thoughts and ideas. Healthy intellectual boundaries include respect for others’ ideas, and an awareness of appropriate discussion (should we talk about the weather, or politics?). Intellectual boundaries are violated when someone dismisses or belittles another person’s thoughts or ideas.
3. Emotional Boundaries
Refer to a person’s feelings. Healthy emotional boundaries include limitations on when to share, and when not to share, personal information. For example, gradually sharing personal information during the development of a relationship, as opposed to revealing everything to everyone. Emotional boundaries are violated when someone criticizes, belittles, or invalidates another person’s feelings.
4. Sexual Boundaries
Refer to the emotional, intellectual, and physical aspects of sexuality. Healthy sexual boundaries involve mutual understanding and respect of limitations and desires between sexual partners. Sexual boundaries can be violated with unwanted sexual touch, pressure to engage in sexual acts, leering, or sexual comments.
5. Material Boundaries
Refer to money and possessions. Healthy material boundaries involve setting limits on what you will share, and with whom. For example, it may be appropriate to lend a car to a family member, but probably not to someone you met this morning. Material boundaries are violated when someone steals or damages another person’s possessions, or when they pressure them to give or lend them their possessions.
6. Time Boundaries
Refer to how a person uses their time. To have healthy time boundaries, a person must set aside enough time for each facet of their life such as work, relationships, and hobbies. Time boundaries are violated when another person demands too much of another’s time.
Rigid, Porous & Healthy Boundaries
Now, lets take this to the next step, and understand the three traits of set boundaries. To better explain this section take a look at the table below. It provides examples of what rigid, porous and healthy boundaries look like.
Both rigid and porous reside outside of what is considered 'healthy'. Generally, health boundaries allows both parties to feel comfortable and develop positive self-esteem.
Most people have a mix of different boundary types. For example, someone could have healthy boundaries at work, porous boundaries in romantic relationships, and a mix of all three types with their family. The appropriateness of boundaries depends heavily on setting. What’s appropriate to say when you’re out with friends might not be appropriate when you’re at work.
Some cultures have very different expectations when it comes to boundaries. For example, in some cultures it’s considered wildly inappropriate to express emotions publicly. In other cultures, emotional expression is encouraged. Essentially there is no one size fits all. Its a matter of understanding what feels right for you and respecting both yourself and those you interact with.
Check in next week where l will be covering PART 3 on how to explore your relationship boundaries including a FREE 'Boundaries Exploration worksheet' to help you get started.
Carmela Pollock is a certified Counsellor, Usui Reiki Master Teacher, award winning published author and advocate for mental health & women's health & well-being. Located in Mornington, Victoria, Australia she supports women and children in therapy using western and eastern techniques across Australia and internationally. She also actively contributes to a number of charities that support women's health.
If you would like to know more about Carmela's services, or attend a one-on-one boundaries session, visit her website to make an appointment at www.soulworksessential.com/workwithme
'I started seeing Carmela a few months ago, for both Reiki and Holistic Counselling. Carmela amazes me each time with her caring loving nature, her enthusiasm and her beautiful soul. I believe I am very lucky that Carmela has come into my life, and I will continue to have Reiki and counselling with her.'
~ Wendy S, Langwarrin, Victoria, Australia
'Carmela has changed my life in so many ways. I was struggling and without direction. I played small because l didn't know how to get out of this limiting mindset. She guided me gently and opened a space of compassion and connection. I am so thankful and grateful of her skills to open a heart like mine that was closed for so long due to grief and childhood neglect. Thank you Carmela for what you do. She is amazing.'
~ Stephanie B, Mornington, Victoria, Australia