Emotional boundaries are a frontier and bounding line that gives you a sense of entitlement about your personal space and privacy. You feel safe and sound in a cocoon created just by you.
In our day to day life, we try to create invisible spaces between us and the other person so that we can conserve our emotional energy and feel in control of our thoughts and emotions.
Apart from this, the personal boundary gives us more confidence, and freedom of having a say in all the significant happenings of our life.
So, it’s a clear limit and periphery between you as a person and everyone else around you.
What are Emotional Boundaries?
Emotional boundaries refer to the outer limit that separates your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions from the other person. It sets limits and draws a line that safeguards your personal space and protects your beliefs, values, and self-image.
Emotional boundaries are a must for any healthy personal and professional relationships. You should always have a defined limit in any relationship beyond which you will not allow certain things to certain people in your life.
You can say that to set personal emotional boundaries is about developing a no–trespass zone. It is ‘you’ who is going to decide what comforts and suits you the best.
The emotional boundary that you will create around you helps you to define your priorities in life. In relationships, boundaries help the other person know what is okay with you and what is not.
Emotional boundaries create a safe and secure space for you. You know the extent to which you’ll allow others to interfere in your matter. It sets limitations for others and makes them understand to what extent they can get closer to you.
Setting boundaries makes it clear that your personal space is something that you love. You will not let others take away this space by any means.
Thus, emotional boundaries are a sign of limitation that gives others a clear understanding of your privacy and personal domain where many subtle things will not be allowed.
Emotional boundaries are not the same for everyone. One person’s comfort zone can be awkward for the other person.
So, you need to define your priorities and let others know what will be allowed and what not depending upon your lifestyle choices, ways of living, upbringing, social ethics, etc.
Without setting an emotional boundary, you may feel drained, exploited, and empty inside out. Knowing your boundaries and respecting the limits of others leads to happy, healthy relationships.
17 Emotional boundaries examples
Setting an emotional boundary is a gradual and firm process. In any relationship, boundaries safeguard your personal space. You are safe inside a shell from any outside threats and damage.
All of us want healthy connections in our life, be it personally or professionally. No matter what the nature of your relationship is, boundaries are an essential component that keeps conflict away and makes the relationship caring and satisfying.
Becoming one in a close intimate bonding means you are aware of your partner’s needs and innate nature. But are you aware of your own personal and emotional needs?
Do you think you invest too much into a relationship that disregards your personal space and privacy limits?
Maybe you do not want to disregard and annoy your partner and that’s the reason you are taking too long to create an emotional boundary between you and him/her.
Healthy boundaries are your life’s philosophy and principles. You may feel uncomfortable, ignored, or not attended to if someone tries to deny your personal emotional boundary.
Let’s find out the examples of how you can create an emotional boundary in your personal and professional life.
1. Learn to say ‘No’
If you do not like something about your partner’s communication or non-verbal gesture, you need to say ‘no’ even if the other person feels annoyed.
You may not like your partner asking personal questions in a public place or showering affection upon you that seems uncomfortable for the moment, you just need to stop them by saying ‘no’.
If your partner or any family member does anything that disrespects your privacy, just let them know your boundaries beyond which you will not allow anything more.
An assertive ‘no’ can go a long way in making your space safe. It is not a harsh gesture at all. It’s just letting the other person know how much you’ll allow and nothing beyond that level.
2. Do not allow anyone to play blame game with you
Sometimes you may find your partner or any other person trying to blame you for their own mistakes. Never allow them to manipulate you emotionally and take the onus of something that was not your fault at all.
Help your partner resolve their issue but refrain from taking the share of their blaming tendency, if any. This is important to keep your self-image intact in your own eyes.
3. Assert respect from your partner
Sometimes we take our personal relationships for granted. Your partner may show annoyance and anger towards you without a genuine reason. If you feel hurt, just let them know that you deserve affectionate communication.
It is vital to assert your respect if you’re not getting what you deserve. Never allow anyone to humiliate you, or insult you in some way. Remember, you deserve respect and you will not allow any such issues in the relationship ever again.
4. Never allow others to dictate your feelings
The sign of a healthy relationship is to freely express each other’s opinions, thoughts, and feelings without the feeling of being judged.
If you seem to face issues where your partner or any other family member is dictating the way you should think, feel, and express yourself, just let them know firmly that it will not be entertained.
5. Always have an identity of your own
Emotional boundaries can become more pronounced if you have learned to have a solid self-image and strong personal identity for yourself outside of the relationship you are in.
It’s better not to mix ‘I’ and ‘We’ together. Otherwise you will feel emotionally dependent and needy in the relationship. Identity crisis needs to be resolved otherwise you’ll never be able to part ways from your partner mentally.
Emotional boundary means to respect your hobbies and interests, likes and dislikes as having a separate entity in the relationship. You should always have a separate identity away from your partner.
6. Giving and accepting help
In relationships, one should keep a check on giving and accepting help to your partner. You should clearly let your partner know how much you can contribute at home and invest in the relationship as a whole.
Avoid giving too much into the relationship otherwise you will feel like a scapegoat whenever things do not work out easily at the home front.
Open communication with your partner regarding equal parenting, looking after the house expenses together can help in setting boundaries in the best possible way.
7. Asking for personal space is essential
Sometimes you may need a lonely time just for yourself. This time is rejuvenating as it allows healing from past issues and emotional dilemmas, if any in your personal life. Your partner may feel like you’re pushing them away from your problems, though this is not the real intention.
Emotional boundary allows you this ‘me time’ when you just want to be only with yourself. Asking for this space is your right and regards both.
8. Communicating your discomfort clearly
Open communication is the key to healthy relationships. You need to articulate and voice your concerns and discomforts clearly.
If your partner uses filthy humor that you didn’t like, just say it straight that you are not comfortable with such remarks. Never allow them to joke about your looks, finances, lifestyle choices, etc.
You have a personal identity outside of the relationship. Thus, keep it intact and never allow anybody to harm it deliberately.
This is what emotional boundaries are all about. You should have the ability to communicate and be clear about what’s allowed in the relationship.
You can even show your concern if they cross the physical line that’s annoying for you.
9. Always go for a slow mutual sharing
Always make your relationship move slowly in the beginning. You will get enough time to talk and know each other’s wants and needs; likes and dislikes. Then, it becomes easy for you and your partner to set boundaries in the relationship.
You and your partner will know how much insecurity and vulnerability that both of you possess can be shared with one another.
Both you should share unconditionally and without the fear of being judged. Then only, a safe space for mutual sharing will be possible.
10. Stick to your point of view if it’s correct
Being stuck in an argument, you and your partner may say or do certain things that you people will regret later on. An ugly thing needs to be avoided in the relationship in order to establish an emotional boundary.
Establish your boundary by letting the other person know that certain sayings and actions will not be tolerated at all in the relationship. Let them know your worth and ask or seek an apology if required.
Let your partner know that their words were harsh and have caused a bad hurt deep inside you.
11. Show your vulnerable side only if you want to
Your vulnerability is a natural part of being human. Carrying emotional baggage doesn’t mean that you need to share all your deepest secrets and insecurities with your partner. You can share your feelings only if you want to.
Your personal relationship should always have some space where vulnerability will not be demanded but will be shared with choice and freedom.
You should not feel the pressure of sharing anything that you do not like or want to. Some sensitive topics that are painful should be shared only with free consent, not by force or compulsion. You should feel safe while sharing your hurtful feelings with your partner.
12. Your right to have ‘me time’
Emotional boundary is a no trespass place that secures your mental health and well-being. You have the right to let your partner know that a Friday night game night with friends will not be for you because after a weeklong work, you just want to relax and have a quiet night at home.
Let your partner know that your time is also precious just like theirs. Never be rude, yet be firm in your decisions.
13. Freely change your mind
Setting an emotional boundary also means to have the freedom to make a choice, and freely decide on an option in your daily life.
If you alter your option or try to change your decision, your partner should not make you feel guilty by any chance. Be clear about setting your own terms in the relationship.
14. Freedom to express sexual boundaries
In the beginning of an intimate relationship, expressing sexuality and love making may not come freely. Both partners should respect each other’s emotional space and should not force one another into an awkward situation.
There should be enough freedom to express each other’s difficulties, insecurities, and concerns related to sexuality without shame and guilt.
Remember to take the consent of your partner before love making actions, otherwise the relationship might lose its respect and regard in a short span of time.
15. Always stand up for your rights
Emotional boundaries are all about defining your values and stating them as clearly as possible before your partner.
Always choose to be faithful and loyal in the relationship. Never feel pressured to adopt the values and principles of your partner if you know that your held beliefs are alright and worth considering.
You should never feel taken advantage of your rights and privileges.
16. Communicate your physical needs clearly
Learn to communicate clearly about your physical needs with your partner. Things like whether you eat vegetarian food, or are a night owl, etc. Do not take the pressure of adjusting each and every small thing with your partner.
You should also offer this space to your partner. If they are an early riser and love to hit the gym early in the morning, just allow them to do that their way. Avoid interfering into everything that they do or want to do.
Make sure that your partner respects your physical needs and you also do the same thing for them as well.
17. You have all the right over your material possessions
When you decide to keep certain material possessions to yourself and intend not to share with your partner, it’s all okay.
Emotional boundaries also include this. Your partner cannot accuse you for not sharing any material possession that you do not want to. This much freedom should be in place in your relationship.
How to set emotional boundaries? (Steps to consider)
Knowing how to set healthy emotional boundaries is the key to happy relationships. Most of the time, we take our intimate relations for granted and tend to trespass each other’s personal space. Slowly, the relationship feels stuck and confined with no happiness and bonding in the right place.
If you can explain your boundaries precisely to someone close to you, then only it will be respected. Here we will discuss a few steps to set emotional boundaries in the right way without hurting the feelings of others.
Setting boundaries include the following steps –
1. Define your boundaries
This is the first step in creating an emotional boundary. You need to define your priorities and choices as explicitly as possible.
This means you need to decide on what are the things that you would share with others or your partner and also what you just want to keep to yourself.
Sometimes, you may not feel comfortable sharing each and every detail with the partner. Don’t pressurize yourself and keep things to yourself if you do not think you need to share the stuff with them. There is nothing wrong with this. This is just safeguarding your personal choices and preferences.
2. Set them early in the relationship
It is always good to set your boundaries early so that the partner knows what to expect from the relationship.
In preexisting relationships, setting emotional boundaries is difficult because partners tend to take the relationship for granted. If you set emotional boundaries early, it becomes easier to follow. Partners will respect each other’s space diligently.
3. Consistency is the key
Be consistent and keep your emotional boundary well-defined. Your partner will know what’s on in the relationship and what is not. There will be no confusion and no disagreements between the two of you.
If you allow your emotional boundary to slide and trip, then new expectations will develop that will be difficult to handle. Thus, be consistent in your sayings and just stick to the things that are not allowed in the relationship.
4. Talk it out with your partner
Open communication is a must between partners while they intend to create emotional boundaries so both of them know what to expect in the relationship. Discuss issues with your partner that are bothering you. You need to be straightforward and firm in your decisions.
If you are not in favor of certain things, just precisely tell them what you expect and why it is important to follow these rules in the relationship.
Always raise your concerns calmly so that the other person never oversteps your boundary. You need to be clear and patient in your approach.
5. Stop pleasing your partner and learn to say ‘no’
Setting an emotional boundary in an intimate relationship is difficult because partners try to please each other because they fear losing the relationship. Thus, saying ‘no’ to certain things that one partner does not prefer becomes difficult.
If the right emotional boundary is to be set early, you need to stop pleasing your partner and seek validation for your thoughts and feelings; otherwise the stuck feeling will never go off. Learn to say ‘no’ when things are not as per your beliefs, values, and needs.
Emotional boundaries in relationships – What is the need after all
Emotional boundaries are invisible lines of control that you have set around you. In personal bonding, boundaries are very essential for the free-flowing nature of relationships.
It reduces conflict between partners, brings better adjustment and communication, and more happiness being with one another.
Emotional boundaries are important because of the following reasons:
- You can maintain your internal comfort level
- Never compromising your beliefs, values, and what you think to be right
- You don’t feel the need to please others at the cost of your emotional well-being
- You become aware of your needs and wants
- Emotional boundaries help in better regulation of your negative emotions. It stops resentment and frustration to take over your emotional well-being.
- Emotional boundaries tell others how you want to be treated in life.
- It acts as a rule book for others because they get a clear idea how much they can expect from the relationship.
- It teaches you and your partner to respect each other’s personal space and privacy.
- Emotional boundaries help to assert your needs that others may not know otherwise.
- It also safeguards you from hurts and cheating by others. You become a cautious being.
- You will feel safe and secure in a private space of yours’.
- Emotional boundaries never allow others to mistreat you.
- Builds long term relationships.
Emotional boundaries in dating
Emotional boundaries in dating safeguard your sense of identity and respect. You never try to merge with someone who does not give you the due regard that you deserve. Just avoid fitting into a relationship that oversteps your sense of comfort and inner peace.
Dating helps you to know your potential life partner in a better way. Thus, it’s obvious that when you meet someone new, you may find it tough to set boundaries, though you know it’s important.
Your potential partner has some expectations from you and you also have some other expectations from him. Thus, it’s important to have precise knowledge of what you people can expect from each other in the relationship.
In dating, emotional boundaries define you as a person before your prospecting partner. It tells them who you are? What they can expect from you in the long run, what you will allow and what not?
Some of the emotional boundaries that you can set while dating are as follows:
- Never show you are needy of love and affection from them.
- You should never allow deception.
- Do not date with the fear of being rejected.
- Never try to please the person so that he/she accepts you.
- Avoid making the past mistakes with your new dating partner
- Do not show that you are desperate to have the relationship in place.
- State your beliefs and values clearly
- Set your needs in place. Let them know that you will contribute whole-heartedly into the relationship but not at the cost of undermining your self-worth.
- You can define the things that you can’t live without.
- Don’t commit to the relationship unless you are sure of the person’s innate nature.
Emotional boundaries in friendships
Just like dating, healthy friendships also have their share of emotional boundaries. It defines the strength of the relationship, describes the bonding, and reflects whether two friends can get along well in the long run.
Healthy emotional boundaries with friends are like these –
- Stop allowing your close friends to ask more from you than what you can actually give in reality.
- Never get into a one-sided friendship relationship even with a good friend.
- Respecting each other’s time is also important. Allowing friends to overstep into your personal time when you would prefer to get busy with something else is not justifiable.
- Friendships are built on mutual trust and respect. If this is not in place, avoid being a friend to someone who tends to use others.
- You cannot allow a friend to remember you when in need. This is selfishness and needs to be stopped.
- Avoid saying everything, rather all details of your life to your friends unless they are too close.
- If you are not comfortable communicating with your friend openly in the shared space, it’s time to move out of the relationship, or share as minimally as possible.
- Set your time to be available for texts and calling in a day. But remain open for emergencies as well.
- If you sense problems in the friendship tie, nip it in the bud so that it cannot stretch its arms and destroy your happiness and inner peace.
- Learn to differentiate between being agreeable, adjustable, and becoming a pleaser day by day. Think about which one describes you the best.
- Do not share all the stories of your personal life.
Emotional boundaries in marriage
Marriages are said to be built on mutual trust, commitment, and compromise. But has anyone ever told you that a healthy and happy marriage is dependent on setting healthy emotional boundaries.
In marriage, both partners should respect each other’s physical space and emotional well-being. Initially, emotional boundaries may appear rude in an intimate relationship. But, in the long run, this habit proves to be healthy.
Emotional boundary acts as a personal safety valve for one or both partners. Few ways by which you can set healthy emotional boundary in your married life are as follows:
- Learn to be happy without your spouse around. Remember that you are responsible for your happiness and emotional well-being.
- Have friends outside your married life.
- Openly communicate your needs in the relationship.
- Respect your partner’s privacy and personal space before you expect the same from them.
- Never allow physical abuse and emotional harm.
- State your needs directly so that your partner knows what you expect in marriage and love-making.
- Sharing between spouses is healthy and should be in place always but up to a certain limit. If you’re overdoing it, stop it right away.
- Seek and give apologies and acknowledge each other’s mistakes openly.
- Sexual limitations should be set in marriage. If you or your partner is not comfortable with certain sexual advances and gestures, you people should talk it out openly and respect each other’s physical space.
Healthy emotional boundaries at work
In workplaces, healthy emotional boundaries can be created by following certain work ethics and having a rule book of dos and don’ts for all the people working in the organization.
This rule book is not a physical one, but an invisible set of guidelines that all the team members and managers are expected to know and follow in the workplace, without fail.
Setting boundaries in the workplace also means developing professional practices that are good for you and others working with you. In this way, your work satisfaction will improve and you’ll be able to reach your life goals easily.
Several ways to resolve boundary issues in workplaces are as follows:
- Avoid getting into your colleagues’ inner space.
- Keep an emotional distance always but empathize whenever needed.
- Do not share the workload of your colleagues.
- You can talk to your manager about how you would like to be treated.
- You can establish your set work hours.
- Avoid bringing office work at home.
- Refrain small talk and gossiping during office hours.
- Never allow your colleagues to ask personal questions that they should not know.
- Communicate openly with team members about your priorities at work.
Setting emotional boundaries with parents
As children grow older, parents start setting rules for them. Sometimes these rules are not looked up as great if the boy or girl is already in their tween or teen years.
These children prefer open-minded parenting and enjoyable home settings. While growing up, children seek independence and as such setting healthy boundaries becomes all the more essential.
A healthy emotional boundary involves open communication about the pre-set rules of the house. In this manner, children know how much they can expect from their families.
It reduces resentment in the household and helps building trust and openness with the parents. A healthy emotional boundary with parents looks like this:
- Mutual acknowledgement of each other’s opinions, beliefs, and varied interests.
- No physical abuse or emotional torture will be entertained in the house.
- Parents can explain their point of view and listen to their child equally well before an important decision is made.
- No body shaming and comments about the personal choices of the teenager.
- Being clear with them about how you would like to be treated in the household.
- Always set clear expectations about what you need from your parents and how much you will contribute to their well-being.
Weak emotional boundaries
People who lack the ability to maintain a healthy interpersonal boundary physically and emotionally often get stuck in an unhealthy relationship pattern that drains their mental energy overtime.
Let’s learn about some of the key signs of weak or poor boundaries.
- You are too open in your relationship and never mind sharing things with others that are actually too personal.
- Pleasing tendencies cloud your ability to think rationally.
- You may feel tongue-tied, as if you have lost the power to use your voice even when needed.
- You never keep an emotional distance in your relationship and allow others to step into your private space quite easily.
- Losing confidence to assert your needs in front of others.
- Constantly seeking others’ approval.
- Social anxiety is present.
- Others use you in different ways to meet their vested interests.
- Feeling guilty, overwhelmed and losing patience while resolving relationship issues and this happens quite often.
Examples of emotional boundary violations
Have you ever experienced a situation when someone tried to overstep into your private world without consent? Or someone tried to violate your boundaries. If yes, then you have become the victim of emotional boundary violations.
Emotional boundaries get violated when your partner or someone else tries to peep inside your private world forcibly and never cares about seeking permission.
Some of the examples to point here are:
- Someone touching you or hugging you without consent. This involves both physical and emotional boundary violation.
- Not respecting your opinions and suggestions and considering you to be an intruder.
- Trying to undermine or insult you in public spaces.
- Not respecting your needs, wants, and wishes.
- Sometimes self-blaming starts because you try to take the onus of things going wrong in the relationship on you.
- You may seem to justify the wrong actions of your partner, although you know consciously that what they did was not correct.
- Feelings of shame and guilt develop for no reason.
Summing Up from ‘ThePleasantMind’
Emotional boundaries are the cornerstone for happy and healthy living, with all your relationships well-defined and structured as per your choice and comfort.
These boundaries also define your individual space and comfort level that is in tune with your values, beliefs, choices, and life preferences.
In every world, these separations are needed to feel protected, valued, and respected by all others in your personal and professional life.
A Psychologist with a master's degree in Psychology, a former school psychologist, and a teacher by profession Chandrani loves to live life simply and happily. She is an avid reader and a keen observer. Writing has always been a passion for her, since her school days. It helps to de-stress and keeps her mentally agile. Pursuing a career in writing was a chance occurrence when she started to pen down her thoughts and experiences for a few childcare and parenting websites. Her lovable niche includes mental health, parenting, childcare, and self-improvement. She is here to share her thoughts and experiences and enrich the lives of few if not many.