top of page

The Importance of Boundaries 

What is a boundary? 

  • It’s a limit or edge that defines you as separate from others. 

  • A boundary is a limit that promotes integrity, can preserve life and advance relationship.

  • Boundaries are physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, relational. They can consist of the limits of what we consider safe and appropriate, our unique set of feelings and reactions, individual perceptions, values, goals, concerns, roles we choose to play, etc.

  • There are similarities and differences in boundaries across cultures, so it is important to be sensitive to people’s differences.


Why have boundaries?

  • For protection and personal security

  • To create order

  • To define ourselves clearly

  • To gain a clearer sense of ourselves in relation to others

  • To empower us to determine how we will be treated by others

Maintaining boundaries allows us to gain trust in ourselves to take care of ourselves. It results in a healthy sense of control and overall well-being.

How are boundaries formed?

  • They begin to form in infancy through family and environmental interactions. In a healthy family, a child is helped to become a unique individual by developing a self-concept separate from other family members. Healthy families promote members’ self-actualization. We learn about our boundaries by the way we are treated as children, and then we teach others whre our boundaries are by the way we let them treat us. 

Boundaries require maintenance.

  • Most people will respect our boundaries if we indicate where they are, but with some people, we need to actively defend them.

  • Like a fence, boundaries require maintenance. Some people crawl on our boundaries like ivy.

Prime boundary violations:

  • Violations of intrusion – breaching a boundary. (Examples are inappropriate personal questions, inappropriate touching, attempting to control how another thinks, believes, or feels.)

  • Violations of distance – when intimacy is less than what is appropriate. (Examples are when children don’t get safe physical contact in order to define themselves or when someone ignores, avoids or abandons us.)

Adapted from Katherine, A. Boundaries, where you end and I begin. (1991). Simon & Schuster, NY.

bottom of page