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What is Your Boundary Style?

Everyone has boundaries. When we talk about boundaries, we’re usually talking about creating them. This blog will help you look at the type of boundaries you are currently using. When you notice what you are already doing, you can examine how it’s working for you and if you want to change it.

The three types of boundaries are: porous, rigid, and healthy.

Porous Boundaries

Porous boundaries allow the borders between what we need and what others need to become permeable and sometimes non-existent. This is enmeshment. When we have porous boundaries, we may not know where we end and where others begin in terms of what we give to relationships. This is unhealthy because it causes us to lose our identity and individuality. When our boundaries are porous, it’s easy for others to take advantage of us.

Therapist Aid gives these examples of porous boundaries:

Overshares personal information

Difficulty saying no to the requests of others

Over-involved in others’ problems

Dependent on the opinion of others

Accepting of abuse or disrespect

Fears rejection if they do not comply with others

Rigid boundaries

The opposite of porous boundaries is rigid boundaries. Avoiding close relationships and not letting people in our life are examples of rigid boundaries. When taken to the extreme, they can be just as harmful as porous boundaries. Rigid boundaries cause us to isolate from others. The world may feel like an unsafe place and so we don’t let anyone in. We may form rigid boundaries when it feels like we cannot let others into our life and maintain healthy boundaries.

Here are examples of rigid boundaries from Therapist Aid:

Avoids intimate relationships

Unlikely to ask for help

Has few close relationships

Very protective of personal information

May seem detached even in intimate relationships

Keeps others at a distance to avoid the possibility of rejection

Healthy Boundaries

Healthy boundaries understand that what another person wants does not need to come at the expense of what we want and need. When in touch with ourselves, we know our own preferences and can share those with others. Our own beliefs and desires are valued, and we respect others as well as ourselves. Having healthy boundaries is also about accepting the boundaries of others. We can accept when someone says no to us.

Examples of healthy boundaries according to Therapist Aid are:

Values our own opinions

Doesn’t compromise values for others

Shares personal information appropriately (doesn’t over share or under share)

Knows personal wants and needs and can communicate them

Accepts when others say no

Another thing to consider when thinking about boundaries is how our culture affects the boundaries we have. Cultural preferences can affect how boundaries are set and maintained. For example, your culture may frown on public displays of emotions. Because of this cultural mindset, you may have more rigid boundaries when it comes to expressing emotions.

Being aware of the kinds of boundaries you have is important. Remember, none of this is ultimately good or bad, it just is. When you understand your boundaries, then you can examine them and decide if there is something you’d like to change. This is your life, and you get to decide what works and what doesn’t. Part of setting good boundaries is deciding for yourself and not letting social pressure sway your decisions about what is right or wrong.

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