“We cannot simultaneously set a boundary and take care of another person’s feelings.”

– Melody Beattie

What is a boundary?

Most people are aware of boundaries for material objects, yet struggle in implementing emotional, physical, spiritual and mental boundaries for oneself. The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is to protect and take good care of yourself.

If you grew up in a dysfunctional family, then you may not have learned to set a boundary or to know what it really is. Learning to set our own healthy boundaries is an exercise in personal freedom.


Poor Boundaries Defined

How do you know whether or not you are in an unhealthy relationship? Chances are if you are in a dysfunctional relationship it will feel “normal” or even “comfortable” to you if you grew up in a dysfunctional home. You may not recognize the signs until you are well on your way to giving up your entire self for the other person. Below is a list of some of the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy boundaries.

Feeling like your own personFeeling incomplete without your partner
Feeling responsible for your own happinessRelying on your partner for your happiness
Togetherness and separateness are balancedToo much or too little togetherness
Friendships exist outside of the relationshipInability to establish and maintain friendships with others
Focuses on the best qualities of both peopleFocuses on the worst qualities of the partners
Achieving intimacy without chemicalsUsing alcohol/drugs to reduce inhibitions and achieve a false sense of intimacy
Open, honest and assertive communicationGame-playing, unwillingness to listen, manipulation
Commitment to the partnerJealousy, relationship addiction or lack of commitment
Respecting the differences in the partnerBlaming the partner for his or her own unique qualities
Accepting changes in the relationshipFeeling that the relationship should always be the same
Asking honestly for what is wantedFeeling unable to express what is wanted
Accepting endingsUnable to let go