What are the Boundaries of Your Relationship?

Boundaries are an important concept in a relationship. They are permeable, flexible, and relationship-specific. Boundaries describe how close you let others in your life, physically or emotionally, and how much influence others have on you. It also decides how much you are willing to give or take before a change is needed. 

Many people believe having no boundaries, and sharing everything with another person is the sign of ultimate love. And it probably is, but it will happen naturally, the closer you are to a person, the less rigid your boundaries are, but they do not disappear entirely. 

The concept of boundaries is not as literal as it sounds. What it means is that people have their space, an area that is significant to only them, and each significant layer of their personality is shared with the environment. So sometimes it may seem that a person has many personalities, or that they hide behind a mask, but the truth is that they share different levels of boundaries with different people.

Think of your best friends, the ones you have known for the last 10 to 20 years, and then think of your colleagues, the ones you know for hardly two years. These two sets of people will know different sides of your personality, not because you have hidden them from others, but because you chose to show only some aspects of it.

Our personality needs and wants are dynamic, ever-changing, and unique, with every experience we change, so it is best to know that our boundaries will also change.

There are Three Broad Types of Boundaries;

Boundaries of Your Relationship

Rigid Boundaries

The people who have rigid boundaries, often come across as cold and unfeeling. They like to stay closed off or firm with their point of view. They don't like to make changes in their routine or personality. They are highly selective based on people, place, instance, or time, but overall their resistance comes from negative experiences. 

We all have that one friend who has a hard time showing feelings or likes to remain apathetic to their surroundings, they also come across as very cold, and anti-social. They would always reply with something sarcastic or unfeeling to others, just to prove how unaffected they are. 

Flexible Boundaries

The ideal type of boundary system. Here the person is firm in their views and confident in their communication abilities, they are selective, but not resistant. The individual shows control over whom they want to let in and they can adjust to that person and the situation too. They are difficult to exploit because of their flexible yet strong nature.

We call it ideal because it is adaptable. We don't consistently get favorable situations in life, which means that if we do not adapt, we lose opportunities. Having flexible boundaries helps a person to survive in the social world, with an intact sense of self.

Open Boundaries

When a person places more value on others’ viewpoints rather than their own, when they like to please others, even at the cost of their health, they are showing an open boundary system. Also termed as soft, enmeshed, or nonexistent boundary systems. These people are easy to exploit or manipulate because they require validation from others and to remain guilt free of their actions.

Such people like to be dependent on others for their needs. The responsibility of every social interaction would lie with others, but if there is a conflict, then people will open boundaries, absorb all the guilt, blame themselves, and are not able to find a long-term solution for it.

There is no such thing as a perfect boundary or even a correct way of creating one. As long as you can adapt to the situations and can thrive in the social world, you have healthy boundaries. Note that just surviving and living off of validation, is not the same as thriving and protecting a sense of self.

Boundaries are set in every facet of our life, spatial, sexual, mental, financial, or emotional. Each boundary in that area will mark the level of safety a person has to feel to thrive in that situation. If an individual's boundaries are crossed, they would naturally feel unsafe and go into fight or flight mode. Asking, understanding, and acknowledging other people's boundaries is the way to be in the social world.

Boundaries are a very natural concept, it has only been defined in depth to study them more scientifically. To learn more about this natural phenomenon, stay tuned to our website.



Anuja Sathe

Counselling Psychologist

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