What are Boundaries?

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Boundaries are physical and emotional limits set by ourselves and others. There both are healthy and poor boundaries. We are responsible for setting good boundaries for ourselves and letting others know when they have crossed a boundary with us.

If we were not taught good boundaries, it may be difficult for us to set them for ourselves and others. Boundaries are about respect. If we don’t respect ourselves and our limits, we may not respect other people’s boundaries. Poor self boundaries take on many forms in many situations. We don’t speak up after an office worker put his or her hand on our knee, or tells us how good the sex was with his spouse last night. While these are examples of sexual harassment, they are also poor boundaries if we don’t speak up. Of course, as noted in hundreds of cases, women put up with indiscriminate acts of aggression and harassment because they are afraid of losing their jobs. The act of touching a knee is both physical and emotional. Talking about sex with his spouse is crossing an emotional boundary.

The term, too much information or TMI, is bandied about a lot these days. When a person uses this term, they may really be telling us they are uncomfortable. Poor boundaries implies disrespect. They can also manifest as neediness, and we may try to get our needs met in an inappropriate way.

Poor boundaries can be overstaying our welcome. The dinner was delicious, but we stay for hours afterwards. When our host or hostess yawns and gets up to do the dishes, we don’t take the hint. We may not be invited again, and don’t understand why. Asking for too much from someone is also a sign of poor boundaries. Poor boundaries may be a sign of childhood neglect, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, too. They may get us into dangerous situations. If any of these ring true consider getting help through a therapist. There are also many books on boundaries.

Even if good boundaries weren’t instilled in us, we can learn about them through our therapist, and begin practicing them. Healthy boundaries apply to the value we place on ourselves and others. They keep us comfortable, safe and healthy. When we are open and honest about our comfort zone in friendships and in love relationships, we make room for long-lasting connection, kindness and care.


Evidence-based and built with passion. Our primary purpose at The Kimberly Center is to assist those who are suffering in finding recovery. Restoring a healthier, happier, more productive life, graduates of our program find themselves free from substance dependence and destructive behavior. Call us today for information: 855-4-KCENTER (855-452-3683)

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