Boundaries in Relationships

Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend



According to Drs Henry Cloud and John Townsend a boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible.

Personal Boundaries are crucial because they establish the ground rules for how you wish to be treated. Boundaries are fundamental limits that people develop to determine how others can act in their presence. Setting limits can help you maintain mutually supportive, ethical, and caring relationships.


Boundaries are important for the following reasons:

· They help you negotiate the risks that come with relationships.

· They are the lines that define and safeguard your “property.”

· They allow you to be yourself rather than losing yourself in someone else.

· Since they help you grow as a person, healthy boundaries will enable you to attract better people.

Learn to cherish the feelings, values, behaviours, and attitudes that your boundaries safeguard.


How Boundaries Help Us in Relationships

Boundaries are necessary for two reasons. First and foremost, they define us. Boundaries define who we are and who we are not; they define what we agree and disagree with; they define what we value and dislike.

When these things are defined, relationships are much smoother. You fix many problems in advance once you are sure about your principles, interests, and ethics.

The second purpose of boundaries is to keep us safe. Boundaries keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. We can expose ourselves to toxic and damaging influences and persons if we don’t set firm boundaries.


Lack of Boundaries

If you don’t set appropriate boundaries, you will be at the mercy of people all the time. Allowing others to dictate how to think, behave, and feel is what this entails. It also implies that you prefer to spend your time and effort doing what others want you to do rather than what you truly desire.



Disrespect of Boundaries

People that are manipulative, narcissistic, or have a low self-worth, unfortunately, tend to constantly breach personal boundaries. One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with boundaries is determining what to do when they are consistently violated.


Boundary Violations

Non-consensual touching, name-calling, unwanted advice, seizing what is not given, and revealing personal information without consent are all clear boundary violations. In the heat of the moment, minor boundary violations are harder to detect.


Handling Boundary Violations

When it comes to dealing with boundary violations, remember to make “I statements.” This can help you practise constructive communication as you talk to your partner as to why the boundary was violated, how it impacted you, and in what ways you can work with each other to prevent it from happening again.


Communicating Respect of Personal Boundaries

Establish your personal boundaries. Before attempting to explain or implement the boundary, be precise about what you expect. Clearly, gently, and consistently communicate your boundaries or requirements. Maintain objectivity by not over-explaining, criticizing, or becoming aggressive.


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