The first step in setting boundaries is to determine what you are comfortable with because only you will know what boundaries to set. You can do this by asking yourself a few questions, pertaining to the individual you want to set the boundaries with, such as the following:
How far away do I want to be from this person?
How much time do I want to dedicate to this relationship?
What level of privacy do I want to establish?
Once you have established the boundaries in your mind, the next step is to convey that to them verbally. It’s not rude to express what you need for the relationship (significant other, family, friends, etc…) to be successful. If they disrespect your boundary, it’s important for there to be a repercussion.
For example, Whitney is out at a park one day when she meets Milan. The two of them connect and decide that they are going to be friends. Whitney tells Milan that she considers her home to be her sanctuary and it’s important to her that people don’t show up at her house uninvited or more than 10 minutes early. Milan agrees and the two of them arrange to meet for coffee at Whitney’s house on Thursday at 1pm. A few days later, Whitney is relaxing in her sunroom when the doorbell rings. Standing at the door is Milan but she’s 2 hours early. Whitney feels like her boundaries have been disrespected. She politely tells Milan that she was just about to call her to postpone their coffee date till next week. Subconsciously, Milan knows exactly what’s going on because she knows that she is invading Whitney’s verbally agreed upon boundary. Milan was just pushing to see how flexible Whitney would be but Whitney maintained her boundary.
When someone allows their boundary to be taken over, they are usually seen as a pushover. This is true because they are letting someone push into their space. This often results in people testing that boundary more. It’s important for people to know how to be firm and hold their space.
If you have someone in your life that needs to know every detail about what you are doing in a day, know that you need to set boundaries. Nobody needs to know what you are doing every second of the day, if it makes you uncomfortable.
It’s important to not base your boundaries on other people’s boundaries. Everyone is different and what makes one comfortable can make another uncomfortable. Some people don’t like having boundaries and that’s ok too. Make sure to be real with yourself though. At times people may complain about others invading their space. The same people may be upset if others weren’t imposing because they crave the attention. Set the boundary that you are personally comfortable with and respect the boundaries that others set for themselves.
Great article. Boundaries are imperative in every relationship; friendship, romance, work, etc. Setting boundaries and maintaining those boundaries is a skill that every person must learn if they wish to have happier relationships.
Thanks Joseph, and what you said is so true.