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  • Writer's pictureJodi Hardesty

Are your boundaries working for you? Broken Boundary Behaviors

They say that “good fences make good neighbors.” This is because people struggle without knowing what the expectations and limits are in their world. A fence is a clear line of where those limits are. Many adults have never had a clear understanding of boundaries. Often our parents struggled with saying no or setting limits, but children need to know and clearly understand expectations in order to feel safe. It can be particularly difficult for parents to set boundaries for kids when they struggle with understanding their own boundaries. When our parents do not have great boundaries, it leaves us still searching as grownups to understand how to have good boundaries.

Many people try to implement boundaries the way they were taught as children or modeled by their parents. Most people have a natural defense that compels them to protect themselves or set limits. Often these ineffective strategies are reinforced in other relationships. There are many boundaries that people try to use that are not effective.

  • Aggressive boundaries- Sometimes boundaries are too firm and leave us disconnected from others. For example, maybe when we get our feelings hurt, we yell at someone or name call. This is a boundary, but not very effective. It may stop the other person but may end the relationship or perpetuate ineffective communication dynamics.

  • Passive aggressive boundaries- This person may not say anything about what is wrong and later say subtle critical or sarcastic comments in an alternative effort to stand up for themselves. This leaves the other person often feeling hurt and confused and reinforces this ineffective dynamic.

  • Silent boundary- This person feels hurt but stuffs the pain and internalizes the experiences. This can result in further emotional wounding and can impact self-esteem. The other person gets confirmation that their own perspective is right but is lost without knowing how to help and support the other person. This perpetuates the lack of communication and disconnect.

  • Clingy boundaries- This person tries continually to please the other person in the relationship and has a hard time understanding where on person ends and they begin. This person is very unclear what a boundary is and over steps. The way they try and protect themselves is by holding on too tightly, they feel lost when they are not too close with another person.

Establishing and understanding boundaries takes time and self-reflection, if you are having continual conflict in your relationship there is hope. Reach out to a couples’ counselor today and learn how to get your needs met in a healthy and effective way. A couples or marriage counselor can help you learn how to say what you need and be heard and listen to understand. Rediscover laughter and joy in your relationship. Reach out today!

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