Different kinds of Boundaries

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Physical Body Boundaries:

  • Anything pertaining to the body—who touches you, where and how
  • Making decisions about physical contact, hugging, kissing, sex, handshakes, etc.
  • Decide on medical/dental treatment—with whom and how it is administered
  • Deciding what is a comfortable distance to sit or stand by a person
  • Deciding what goes on or into your body


Physical Boundary Violation: 

  • Unwanted touch, hitting, pinching, slapping, pushing, tickling, biting, sex, etc. 
  • Doctor or surgeon treating you without your permission
  • Intrusion on personal space
  • Physical abuse


Property Boundaries:

  • Property lines, deeds, legal agreements or documents
  • Title showing ownership to a car, home, property
  • Locks, blinds, fences, walls
  • Signs: No SolicitorsNo Trespassers
  • Rules you establish about who drives your car, lives in your home, uses your things


Property Boundary Violation: 

  • Someone drives your car, wears your clothes or borrows your things without permission
  • Trespassing private property
  • Failing to return or breaking borrowed item without fixing it


Emotional Boundaries:

  • Take responsibility for your own happiness and not depending on any outside person or thing to make you happy
  • Own your own feelings—not blame others for how you feel.  Example: “You made me feel…”
  • Allow others to be responsible for their own feelings. (If someone is mad because you won’t let them drive your car, let them manage their feelings & don’t make your decisions based on their feelings.)
  • Refuse to have a discussion with an angry person until they have settled down and are rational
  • Appropriate expression of all feelings. Example: It is okay to express your anger but it is not okay for you to abuse me because you are angry
  • Show empathy for other’s feelings without becoming enmeshed: Example: “I can see you’re sad. So sorry you’re feeling badly, I hope you feel better soon.” (Leave emotions with the one dealing with them. Example 2:“I’m sorry you don’t like what I’m doing. I hope you can find a way to deal with that.” Example 3: Parent to child having a melt-down, (kindly) “It’s okay to cry, but please do it in your bedroom so the rest of us don’t have to hear. When you stop crying you can join the rest of us.” “I will happily continue this conversation when your emotions are under control.” 
  • You are responsible for your feelings, let other’s be responsible for theirs


Emotional Boundary Violation: 

  • Taking on someone else’s emotions. Example: After listening to my neighbors sad life I feel depressed for the rest of the day
  • Allow other’s feelings to determine vital life decisions Example: Because my mother is sad I’m leaving home, I won’t attend college”
  • Immobilized in making important decisions for fear of offending others.
  • Expecting others to rearrange their lives to manage your feelings.
  • Judging or trying to control what others feel.
  • Saying yes when you mean no to manage other’s feelings.
  • Restricting certain or all feelings. Example: (It’s not okay to ever feel angry.)
  • Requiring another person to fix your feelings or trying to fix other’s feelings.
  • Purposely doing behaviors to manipulate or hurt other’s feelings.
  • Revealing shocking information just to get an emotional reaction or attention
  • Carried emotions: Example: Feeling guilty for someone else’s wrong doing.“If you’re sad, I’m sad.”


Intellectual or Mental Boundaries:

  • Sharing and expression of ideas
  • Own your own thinking even if others disagree
  • Deciding what is right for you
  • Respect and protect your ideas with copyrights
  • Choosing your own political affiliations and ideologies but be open to new ideas.
  • Be open to but filter all information from outside sources.
  • Turn off old negative tapes running through your head.


Intellectual or Mental Boundary Violation: 

  • Attack, punish or steal another person’s ideas.
  • Limit what others can learn. Example: Hitler’s Germany destroyed any reading material that contradicted his agenda 
  • Prohibiting others from learning.
  • Revealing too much information about yourself, too soon.
  • University professor flunks student for not adopting his philosophies.
  • Assuming you know another person’s thoughts, motives, needs


Spiritual Boundaries:

  • Find relationship with God then you and God decide on the right spiritual path for you
  • Join or leave any religion at will, and respect others rights to do the same
  • Have respect and congenial relationships with those whose spiritual beliefs are different unless those beliefs pose a threat to your safety and well being 
  • Listen to differences without condemnation or criticism—just share
  • Extract from spiritual teachings what you want to apply and leave the rest—you and God decide what applies to you


Spiritual Boundary violation:

  • Person in power position assumes the role of God to others. Example: James Jones claimed he was Jesus Christ and ordered his followers to commit mass suicide. (Jones Town massacre)
  • Punish or try to gain power over others in the name of God
  • Use the threat of punishment from God to control others
  • Forcing religious compliance


Sexual Boundaries:

  • Determine with partner what is safe and acceptable sexual behavior
  • Decide with whom, when, where and how you have sex
  • Age appropriate sex education and sex with others: Keeping sexually explicit material out of the access of children and the general public
  • Sexual trust in marriage 
  • Confronting and reporting inappropriate sexual comments, behavior, jokes


Violation of Sexual Boundaries:

  • Forced sex
  • Drug a person, or get them drunk to have sex with them
  • Coerced into performing violating sexual acts
  • Sexual remarks, looks, innuendoes, conversations with unwilling party 
  • Sexualizing others (staring at a woman’s breasts instead of face while talking to her)
  • Sex with strangers (unprotected)
  • Infidelity
  • Religious leaders, therapists, doctors, etc., using their position to preying on the vulnerable


Professional/Workplace Boundaries:

  • Work a reasonable amount of time for a reasonable wage
  • Separate work and personal life 
  • Staying within the limitations of training and abilities
  • Respect owner’s property
  • Keep confidences
  • No fraternizing with clients or patients
  • As a professional, don’t claim you can do anything more than you can do
  • The client or patient (who is paying the bill) is the one in charge, not the professional
  • Professional’s keep all personal information private


Violation of Professional boundaries:

  • Office Manager gives himself a raise without the permission of the owner
  • Business owner shares too much personal drama with customers and employees
  • Employee steals office equipment or eats food without paying for it
  • The boss/company expects employees to work extra hours without compensation
  • The boss projects his/her unresolved personal life issues onto employees
  • Bullying in the work place
  • When an equal-power relationship goes into a power-over relationship with the other in the work place 


Family Boundaries

  • Retaining individuality/autonomy in thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc. in a family system
  • Share equally in work and responsibilities—age appropriate tasks
  • At the age of 18, children become emancipated and are no longer subject to parents rules if living separately and self-sustained. If still living at home, rules & expectations must be agreed upon and respected by the adult child in order to stay. Example: “You can live at home as long as you are working on a college degree or working full time.”
  • Parents let children help make rules in all areas of life (with guidance from the parents), for protection & fairness; consequences for violation are decided upon with all, explained in advance and executed equally and fairly. Consequences are intended to teach valuable life lessons, never to punish
  • The system is there to support the individual, not the individual to support the system
  • Children are considered autonomous human beings, even if they were conceived and raised by the parents—they have a right to their own feelings, ideas, and goals, separate from the parents and eventually emancipate


  Family Boundary violation: 

  • Children are expected to follow the family patterns instead of following their heart. Example: Because all the men in our family have been lawyers, you have to be a lawyer
  • Children are not allowed to express their ideas or feelings
  • Parents share their adult problems with children, make a child be the parent to other siblings, make their child the surrogate spouse, make their child be a parent to the parent.
  • Parents try to control their adult children lives as they did when they were young
  • Parents control children, leave the children with no right to make choices
  • Parents use children as pons to hurt the other parent
  • Parents allow their older/stronger children to bully weaker/littler siblings
  • Making fun of other family members
  • No locks or privacy in bathrooms or bedrooms—parents or older siblings expose genitals to children 
  • Parents getting their self-esteem from their children’s accomplishments


Space Boundaries:

  • Respecting other’s space in a room, office, workplace, closet
  • Having respect for others’ space even if living in the same house


Space Violation:

  • Parking your car in a way that others can’t park
  • Taking more space than is your fair share


Friend & neighbor boundaries:

  • Keep separate, even if living close. Honor property lines and property that belongs to the other. 
  • Be sensitive of loud noises, smells or unsightly property that could affect the peace of another’s home or property
  • Get permission before entering or borrowing neighbor’s property
  • Keep confidences—stay out of their business, unless invited
  • Keep in mind how the upkeep of one home can affect the price value of the whole neighborhood


Friend or neighbor boundary violations:

  • Play loud, offensive music that can be heard by others in the neighborhood. (Also noise boundaries)
  • Borrowed items are broken and not repaired or returned
  • One home and yard in the neighborhood is trashed and unkept, affecting the appearance of the whole neighborhood


Financial (Money) boundaries:

  • Couples make and alter money decisions together: Who has access to money,who decides on how it is spent, what are spending limits and violations
  • Spend within limits decided upon previously—live within your means
  • Children ask permission before taking money from parent’s purse, wallet, credit card or such— consequences applied if boundaries are crossed


Money boundary violations:

  • Money secrets—one spouse  spends freely, but withholds money from other spouse.
  • One spouse incures debt without consent or knowledge of the spouse
  • Overcharging
  • Invading wallet or purse without permission
  • Parents depend on children to support them financially (except in dire circumstances)
  • Parents support adult children long after emancipation
  • Excessive debt
  • Failure to pay back a loan
  • Failure to meet financial obligations


Relationship Boundaries:

  • Choosing to be together, but retaining individuality in a relationship 
  • Respect others needs and differences while retaining your own interests and uniqueness
  • Be prepared to live alone and thrive, even if the partner goes away and/or the children emancipate
  • Chores, responsibilities and expectations are discussed, divided equally & agreed upon by both parties.
  • Both are willing to provide a support system for the other especially if ill or disabled
  • Teaching your partner and other family members how to treat you. Doing the same for them.


Violation or relationship Boundaries:

  • Individuality is lost for the sake of the relationship (enmeshment)
  • One partner or family memober tries to control the other
  • Violation of commitments agreed upon in the relationship (extramarital affairs, etc.)
  • Expect partner to read your mind or meet needs without being told what they are
  • Expect spouse to make you happy & meet all your expectations
  • Try to force a person to change against their will
  • Giving unsolicited help or advice


Creative Boundaries:

  • Giving credit to an individual for their own ideas and creativity (copyrights)
  • Allowing children and others to freely express their own creativity (as long as it does not violate other’s rights)


Violation of Creative Boundaries:  

  • Sexually explicit, ethnic, gender or religious slurs in art or literature
  • Stealing someone else’s creative idea
  • Stifling a child’s natural creative abilities


Civic/Government Boundaries:

  • Living within the laws of the land and changing them through legal channels
  • Elected officials sustaining the laws and representing the will of the people who voted them into office
  • Government protects and provides fair trials and consequences for citizens but does not try to control


Civic Boundary Violations or poor boundaries

  • Government officials make laws without the consent of the people
  • Governments enable irresponsible citizens


Cultural/race Boundaries:

  • Respect the differences in cultures
  • When entering a home or country of another culture, comply with their rules while visiting


Violation of Cultural Boundaries

  • Racist or ethnic jokes, harassment, discrimination
  • Tolerating abusive cultural patterns
  • Punish others who are not a member of your culture or race


Time Boundaries:

  • Let others know your time limitations, then enforce them. Example: “I can only talk for five minutes.”
  • Consideration for other’s time when they are waiting for or depending on you
  • Keep curfews
  • Stay within time limitations for talk or presentation


Time Boundary Violations: 

  • Expect employees to work overtime without extra pay (also a financial violation)
  • Being assigned a ten minute talk and speaking for thirty minutes
  • Being consistently late for time commitments
  • Overstay expected time at party or visit


Internal Boundaries: 

  • Determine when it’s time to quit working and rest
  • Self discipline
  • Choose to focus on gratitude, blessings & something more positive rather than the negative.
  • Believe you are a good person even if you made mistakes
  • Finding balance between work and play, being serious and silly, responsibility and indulgence, self-care and service to others
  • Balance between passion and logic. Example: “My desire is to eat the whole cake, but I should only have one piece”
  • Following your conscience and/or internal warning signs


Internal Boundary Violations:

  • Putting effort and consideration into everyone else but yourself
  • Poor nutrition, over work, lack of sleep & exercise, etc.
  • Use others or allow others to use you
  • Blame others for your errors & weaknesses


Sensory boundaries:

  • Auditory - Allowing a third party to listen in on a phone conversation from an unsuspecting person 
  • Establishing white noise in a medical, counseling  or law office so others cannot eaves-drop on sensitive conversations 
  • Ask to have the volume turned down at a restaurant because music is interfering with you enjoying the meal
  • Keeping music within a range that it’s not offensive to others (auditory boundaries)
  • Visual - Your right to complain to city authorities about inappropriate material on public billboards
  • Taste - Ask waiter to replace a meal you’ve paid for, that doesn’t taste good or is burned
  • Smell - Request a person to not wear perfume when they are around you or refuse to get too close to them if they do. Flagulating in public.
  • Touch - Let others know when physical touch is pleasant or painful


Rokell Lerner & Associates areas where boundaries need to be assessed:

  • Individual conceptions
  • Need for closeness and distance
  • Values
  • Sexual behavior
  • Touch/expression of affection
  • Discipline of children
  • Meaning of touch to each person
  • How family members need to touch and be touched
  • Conventions about nudity
  • Rules about privacy
  • Bathing/sleeping arrangements


Blame is an indicator of poor boundaries. Blame is an attempt to hold another person responsible for your experience, feelings or behaviors and looking for a scapegoat. Blame says, “You are responsible for me. What you do determines whether I succeed or fail.” Blame is a dead end road because there is NO self accountability. At the end of the blame is STUCK, because blaming another person is not going to fix you! Blame is abusive.

Abusers avoid taking personal responsibility by blaming a victim. Example: “The reason I had an affair is because you are not good enough in bed.” “You made me hit you because you don’t obey me.” “You made me feel sad.” “You kept me from getting my degree.” 

Victims take the blame they do not deserve: “It must be my fault that man was so rude to me.” 

~The originator of many of the information for much of this article is unknown