People want you to share the amazing life you’ve created for yourself with them for free. They want your time, attention and affection at no cost. They want unlimited access to you as if they are entitled to these things. The choice to share one’s life with another should be out of one’s own free will and not because one was forced, shamed or cajoled into sharing. Being loyal, respectful, kind, trustworthy and thoughtful are the bare-minimum for the company of another. Why seek another if you have no intention of respecting them or adding value to their life? I think it’s out of selfishness, but isn’t selfishness a fundamental principle of human existence? The need for respect and self-preservation burdens you with the task of establishing boundaries. Boundaries can come in various forms and can be established in all types of relationships. Protecting yourself from abuse is a form of self-care. A mother-daughter relationship can have boundaries, just as a relationship between acquaintances. Although they may vary in different degrees, the importance can not be overlooked.
Physical Boundaries – Personal space and touch. Having a preference for handshakes instead of hugs, phone conversations instead of face-face meetings, meeting in public instead of your home, having guests sit in the living room instead of your bedroom, etc., are some of the ways people express their boundaries. There are so many ways people can invade your personal space either out of ignorance or a complete disregard for you or your values. Regardless of what your boundaries are, you have every right to ask that they are respected.
Mental Boundaries – There are certain topics one might not be comfortable discussing with someone at a certain time or/and place. No matter what the case may be, the choice to not engage is always available. Saying “I’d rather not talk about this now or I don’t feel comfortable enough to have this conversation with you right now”; would save you from a headache. If the price for your peace of mind is the cost of a relationship, the necessity of that relationship should be questioned.
Emotional Boundaries – Feelings as much as we would like them to be collective, are not. Your feelings are completely yours and are different from another’s and as such separate. They are people who have a knack for blaming everyone but themselves for their numerous problems and another group that think they are responsible for all the problems of the world. As empathic as you may be, taking responsibility for another’s feelings isn’t healthy for either party. Both groups are at extreme ends of the spectrum. Emotions are fragile and should be handled with extreme care and tactfulness.
The need for self-preservation is innate, people will take all they can take from you without giving anything back in return if you let them. They will disrespect you, waste your time, abuse and take advantage of you at will if you do not emphasize that just as they deserve respect, so do you. The importance of having boundaries and standards cannot be overemphasized. Holding each other to high standards will increase our desire for self-development, thereby increasing the quality of our relationships. Remember, the quality of your life is determined by the standards you have for yourself and the standards of those around you. People can be in your life but on your terms.
The question now is, “If I have so many boundaries, how will my relationships grow”? Relationships should be built on mutual respect and effective communication; any relationship built on pretense is bound to be toxic. Toxic relationships aren’t necessarily abusive, they also include relationships that stop you from being your most authentic self, the ones that before you get into, you have to shed parts of you that aren’t considered pretty by the other party. If you have to shrink to fit in, you do not belong there. If there are respect and effective communication, the expression of your needs and desires shouldn’t be a problem. A relationship that had physical boundaries can progress to one without them because of trust. Boundaries build trust and help measure the quality of the relationship. It is a good way to measure the progress of your relationship.
As we ask that our boundaries be respected, it is only fair that we respect other people’s boundaries. Where there are no boundaries, abuse is inevitable.