Boundaries are more than just lines on a map. In relationships, they are mandatory codes of conduct that need to be respected. It’s where we draw the line on what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

It’s a fact that you teach people how to treat you and whether it’s with family, friends, co-workers, or lovers, everyone must have boundaries. They are necessary because, well let’s face it, not everyone is playing with the same moral deck. There are a lot of very unhealthy people out there, who make a habit of projecting their issues onto others and it’s our job to protect our self-esteem and that’s where boundaries come in.

You may have a massively insecure co-worker that is always trying to put you down, to make them feel big. You may have an incredibly critical mother, that thinks her hurtful words are beneficial, or you may be involved with an abusive mate, that seeks to control you by attacking your self-esteem.

The Need for Boundaries

I used to be a massive people pleaser. I considered myself easy going and I believed that if someone had to be hurt, or put out in any way, it was better that, that someone was me.  I was more interested in keeping the peace than being right. I thought I was being the bigger person and taking the high road by accepting other people’s bad behavior. After all don’t people always say, “I’d rather be happy, than right.”

That statement only rings true when your self-esteem is not under attack, because if someone is hurting your feelings, then let’s be honest, you’re not happy. I used to watch women that stood up for themselves and I’d think, wow she’s massively high maintenance and I may have even used the “b” word to describe them.

I grew up with an incessantly critical mother. I could never please her and her stinging remarks really did a number on my self-esteem. She would follow up hurtful comments with the phrase, “I’m only trying to help you,” as if that was supposed to automatically erase the pain, shame and guilt she caused me.

I followed that up with dating men that had issues and would seek to control, isolate and abuse my sense of self-worth to make themselves feel better. I never had boundaries in my relationships and I learned that men test you in the beginning, to see just how far they can push you. And if you don’t have limits, then you are allowing them to disrespect you and that shows them, that you don’t respect yourself, so it gives them carte blanche to continue to do so.

I had a friend who had explained to me that early in her relationship with her spouse, while they were still dating, he had called her a bad name, like stupid or idiot. She spoke up immediately and said “If you’re going to call me names I’m going to leave.”   He apologized immediately and he hasn’t called her any names since. She taught him right out of the gate, that if you want to be with me, then you are going to treat me with respect – flat out.

Had I understood about the importance of boundaries earlier I would have said to my mother, “Mom, what you are saying is not helping me. It’s hurtful and if you insist on talking to me that way, then I’m really not interested in spending time with you,” and if that didn’t change her behavior, I would have followed it up by actually not spending time with her.

If you don’t let someone know their behavior is inappropriate it will continue. You must communicate directly and immediately following the
incident, that this behavior is not acceptable. And if it does continue, then you follow it up with immediate action, like ending your involvement with that person, because they are then showing you that they are the type of person that does not respect boundaries.

I have learned that my self-esteem is like the gold in Fort Knox. It is extremely valuable and mine to protect.  No one, regardless of their issues, has any right to try to sneak out a few bars, so that their own pile gets a little larger at the expense of mine.

“Standing up for yourself and enforcing boundaries does not make you a bitch. It makes you someone that loves and respects yourself.”

When you create boundaries it lets other people know where you stand on you, how you expect to be treated and that there are consequences for crossing those boundaries.

Beware the Faux Boundary

When I was a little girl my big brother used to annoy me quite a bit and I would always say, “Stop it.” He was so much bigger and stronger than me, he would laugh and say, “Or what, you’ll say stop again?”

If you don’t enforce your boundaries with immediate action then your words are empty and people will not take you seriously. Messing around when you are young with your siblings, who love you, is one thing, but when you get into relationships with men you don’t know, it’s your responsibility to teach them how you expect to be treated. The clues about who you are involved with become evident immediately when you have and enforce your boundaries.

If you are involved with a Narcissists or a Broken Down, you’ll find that they don’t like or respect other people’s boundaries. They are the proverbial boundary busters. It’s all about them and they will say and do whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of its effect on you. They don’t believe in consequences because they seldom experience any.

I recall telling my ex-Narcissist over and over again that I was done and to lose my number, but I never meant it and he knew it. A few days, weeks or even months later I’d get a call or a text. I’d be so glad that he was back and he would act like nothing ever happened. And on and on the delusion would go over and over again.

Had I had and enforced boundaries early on, I would have discovered that he was a boundary buster – the type of person that wasn’t interested in my feelings or how I wanted to be treated. Everything was always going to be on his terms and by repeatedly crossing the line, he was showing me that he was never going to respect me and I would have saved myself a lot of time, money and heartache.

If you don’t have boundaries you are showing any old Tom, Dick or Narcissist that you are the type of girl that is ready and willing, to put up with all sorts of bad behavior. People will eventually show you who they really are, but by having and enforcing your boundaries early on, you can uncover someone’s true intentions before you become emotionally invested.

If someone knows where your line is drawn and they continue to leap back and forth over it, they are showing you where you stand with them and what you can expect more of in the future. By consistently enforcing your boundaries, you are cementing that line in the sand and if they continue to cross it, let them keep on walking.

 

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Written by Savannah Grey
Savannah Grey is a Freelance Writer, a Hypnotherapist, Consultant, Sports Fanatic, and Philosopher and has a degree in Psychology. She is the founder of www.esteemology.com, a website dedicated to educating and healing survivors of abusive relationships.