“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.

Healthy Unhealthy
Feeling like your own person Feeling incomplete without your partner
Feeling responsible for your own happiness Relying on your partner for your happiness
Togetherness and separateness are balanced Too much or too little togetherness
Friendships exist outside of the relationship Inability to establish and maintain friendships with others
Focuses on the best qualities of both people Focuses on the worst qualities of the partners
Achieving intimacy without chemicals Using alcohol/drugs to reduce inhibitions and achieve a false sense of intimacy
Open, honest and assertive communication Game-playing, unwillingness to listen, manipulation
Commitment to the partner Jealousy, relationship addiction or lack of commitment
Respecting the differences in the partner Blaming the partner for his or her own unique qualities
Accepting changes in the relationship Feeling that the relationship should always be the same
Asking honestly for what is wanted Feeling unable to express what is wanted
Accepting endings Unable to let go