If you’ve read this blog for even a short while, you’ll know that I stress the importance of having boundaries. These act as your personal electric fence defining what you’re prepared to accept in your interactions. By having boundaries you learn to recognise when to opt out or step back. A bit like traffic lights for life. They give you self-respect, limits, self-love and balance.
Boundaries give you standards. They say ‘Hey, you know what? I like/love you and everything, but I can’t and won’t put up with that!’
They say ‘Woah there! Something doesn’t feel right here! Did you just see what they did? That means something isn’t right.’
They say ‘If loving you means I can’t love me and live my life with healthy boundaries, I’ll choose me!’
Yet even when people have a lifetime of experiencing the negative consequences of running around letting people do whatever they like, I get:
- ‘But what if by having standards they back away from me?’
- ‘What if I have boundaries and then I have fewer men/women to pick from?’
- ‘Erm, what if they get mad at me [for having boundaries]?’
- ‘What if they think I’m argumentative and up my own backside?’
What all of these concerns express is ‘I’m afraid of, not only having boundaries, which give me self-love and self-respect, but I’m afraid of the consequences‘.
I’m afraid that if I have boundaries, the person who doesn’t want to treat me with love, care, trust and respect by adhering to those boundaries will abandon me.
I’m afraid that if I don’t have boundaries, I will have nobody to date. It’s a nasty world out there full of bad people who have no respect for others. One of these people who don’t respect my boundaries could be my last chance saloon! All the decent people in the entire universe that respect boundaries are gone! In fact, even though there are relationships that demonstrate boundaries, I, I tell you, I, am the exception. And if I am going to have a relationship, I must let them do as they please. Once they love me, I’ll put my foot down.
I’m afraid that by expressing what I’m uncomfortable with that the other person will get mad at me. I’m afraid of conflict and would rather compromise myself than experience what I think are the consequences of asserting my boundaries.
I believe that people who say no are being argumentative and confrontational by stating or actioning their boundaries. I’m afraid that if I express a concern or define my boundaries that they’ll be like ‘Who the eff do you think you are?’
The truth is, I‘m afraid of having standards.
I am afraid of having to be accountable for my contribution.
I am afraid of acknowledging my needs.
I’m afraid of change.
I am afraid of conflict.
I’m scared of not being The Good Girl/The Good Guy.
I’m not convinced that boundaries apply to me because I don’t have enough confidence and self-love to believe that I am worthy of being treated in this way.
Here’s the truth: when you go from having no boundaries to having some boundaries around people who have no respect for your boundaries anyway, life will not be too easy. At first.
Friends and family who are used to you being a certain way have expectations of you. When you don’t meet those and you’re suddenly not as available, pliable, receptive etc., to what they want you to say or do, it rocks the boat. It doesn’t mean you cut them all off, but it may mean either getting a safe distance and/or riding it out.
Boundaries are not something you need to go out all guns blazing. You don’t need to be ‘aggressive’ and start creating conflict; you just need to get on with it.
Often you don’t need to explain. It is what it is. Do you really think that those around you don’t have boundaries? Just try crossing the line with them or trying to do things on your terms and you will see boundaries in operation, even if they are not boundaries you like or respect.
Assclowns and Unavailables, for all the dodgy, crummy behaviour that they engage in, can be credited with one thing: they’re consistent at having their boundaries, albeit in not the best of ways. When you don’t jump to their beat, they take aggressive and passive-aggressive measures to get you to toe the line. If you don’t, they cut you off and flush you out so fast your feet barely touch the ground.
If you are serious about experiencing healthier self-esteem and relationships, accept that there’s no shortcut and that it’s time to have boundaries.
You can try to go around this, above it, below it, sideways, whatever. At the end of the day, though, if you want love, care, trust, and respect in your relationships, you must conduct your life with boundaries as a natural part of your lifestyle so that you don’t end up giving oxygen and space in your life to people who are not worthy of your time.
For all of you ‘testing’ out your boundaries on dates, here’s a newsflash for you: dates, particularly assclowns and Unavailables, can sniff out pseudo boundaries that you’re trying on for size. The dodgy ones will use this as game fodder.
If you don’t believe in boundaries, just like when people are half-hearted about No Contact, you’ll undermine your own efforts. Plus, in not believing in boundaries, you’ll likely continue to attract the very people who have no respect for them because your core value system and how you feel about yourself, love, and relationships haven’t changed.
Do you know how people overcome their fear of having boundaries?
They stop fighting boundaries. They stop believing that boundaries are ‘bad things’ that cut off your options and will leave you alone with ten cats, no friends and family, and the pervasive fear that you’ll die alone.
Change your beliefs about boundaries and you will overcome your fear of them.
Get to the heart of what you believe boundaries are and what having self-respect and self-love means to you.
What do you think people believe about those who have boundaries? Is this actually true?
Reflect on your past relationships, including your interactions with family, friends, and colleagues, and anyone else with who you’ve had boundary issues. Note the long list of evidence to demonstrate the importance of having boundaries.
Those situations where you felt uncomfortable, what did you in hindsight recognise was not in your interests?
When you keep your mouth shut and go along with things, do you feel good?
When you don’t say NO and instead say YES (again), do you feel good? Or do you feel robbed and acting out of sync with your own needs?
Are there situations where you are being taken advantage of? If you are not behind the concept of having boundaries, exactly how do you think you are going to stop these situations? Are you hoping that one day they’ll have an attack of conscience and think ‘Ooh, I’ll stop abusing this person’s boundaries’?
What are you afraid will happen if you have boundaries?
Those things that you’re afraid of happening when you have boundaries, are any of those things happening now?
e.g. People often tell me that they’re afraid that they’ll be alone or that they’ll lose the relationship. But they’re alone and don’t have the relationship anyway.
If you’re considering not having boundaries, are you prepared to accept and be accountable for the consequences?
When I talk to people who have doubts as to whether they can have boundaries, these same people then remember how they feel with no boundaries. They remember that even if they feel short-term ‘joy’, they experience medium- to long-term pain. Going on past results, they have consistent evidence to demonstrate that not having boundaries doesn’t work.
Get behind the concept of having boundaries and having standards. People respect people who have limits and who have standards. They don’t think ‘They’re great because they’ll roll over and accept anything and everything!’ They think ‘Hmm, this person cannot be so great if they’re prepared to put up with XYZ. In fact, there must be something wrong with them’.
The boundaries are for you, not for others. Fighting having boundaries is like fighting the right to have some self-respect.
Going out on a date and having boundaries for an hour or two is not the same as having boundaries, period. If you really have boundaries and you go on a date with someone who made you uncomfortable, you won’t lose sleep over it. Why? Because you know that you were never going to work out anyway. You’ll just say ‘NEXT!’
Recognise that boundaries do filter out people, but that’s no bad thing. If you go on a date or several dates and discover that there’s red flags abounding, assess the situation. Check out my post on internal and external fear and also see my signs that they’re not interested. Acknowledge any concerns so that even if you do decide to try a few more dates, you are not going in blind and you don’t get hijacked by potential and your libido.
People who have integrity and respect will not get aggressive with you, tell you that you have issues, or completely disregard your feelings and gaslight you. Instead, they’ll hear you out, they’ll apologise, they’ll discuss. They won’t, if they want to continue being around you, keep pinging your proverbial electric fence.
For everyone else, if they hate the fact that you have boundaries, it’s better you find out now than later. If they don’t like your boundaries, newsflash, they don’t respect you.
Stop being afraid of having standards. Stop being afraid of having limits. Believe that you deserve genuine love, care, trust, and respect and accept that having boundaries is a fundamental part of living a healthy existence. You’re not access-all-areas. You’re not that desperate.
Your needs and feelings are valid and you have a right to say no. You have the right to say you’re uncomfortable, and you have a right to expect to be treated decently. You have a right to have standards. It’s not egotistical or aggressive. Having basic benchmarks of knowing what you will and won’t accept and what you’re uncomfortable with is self-care. We all need to do it.
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