by: Alexa Vernola, LPC and Dr. Cassandra Faraci
We’ve all heard the term “boundaries,” but why is it so difficult to get others to respect them?
Boundaries are a way for us to communicate what makes us feel safe and comfortable. Even the kindest and most respectful presentation of these boundaries often leads the boundary crosser to take offense. We live in an era in which we’re made to feel unsafe sharing what makes us feel safe.
While we could write a book on how to set boundaries and the importance of setting them (many amazing authors have done this already), here, we’re going to summarize some reasons why others are not respecting the limits you’re setting:
- You haven’t verbalized your boundaries. It’s scary, we know. What if someone gets angry? Often more uncomfortable and toxic to mental health, what if the person responds in a passive aggressive manner? What if your loved one cuts you off all together? We get it. Think about it, though. If you haven’t clearly expressed your needs and where your limits of comfort and safety lie, is it fair to expect others to read your mind? Relationships can be complicated. Setting boundaries is often complicated. If you don’t, though, people will inadvertently cross them.
- You apologize for setting boundaries. Apologizing sends that message that you’ve wronged someone and you feel sorry for it. Setting boundaries in a kind manner is not wrong. You have no reason to apologize. You’re protecting your physical and mental health, no apologies needed.
- You modify or abandon your boundaries when you experience resistance from others. Boundaries require others to modify their own behaviors. Your boundaries may not be preferred by others, but they’re your If you back down, it makes sense that others will not put in the extra effort, possibly going out of their comfort zones to respect yours. Why would they? They don’t have to – you didn’t stick to them, so they don’t have to. Be firm!
- You don’t take your boundaries seriously. If you don’t take them seriously, it is very unlikely that others will either. Remember, you set them for a reason. You matter. Your boundaries matter. If someone makes a joke or pokes fun, don’t laugh with them. It sends a message that you take your limits lightly and also hints that you will back down (see #3).
- You only express boundaries once. Unfortunately, verbalizing your boundaries once won’t do the trick. It takes repetition and standing your ground to really teach those around you what you need. Healthy boundaries take time and practice in order to get comfortable setting them. Start with one at a time, and remember your why.
If someone truly cares about your needs, in the end, you’d expect for them to honor your boundaries.
We’re here to help. If you think this is something you’d like to learn more about and want to spend time on developing healthy boundaries and learning how to clearly and kindly communicate these, give us a call (908) 914-2624 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.