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SerJR posted 5/5/2008 12:27 PM

Healthy personal boundaries are a way to protect and take good care of ourselves. We all have a right and responsibility to protect our dignity and defend ourselves, and those boundaries let others know when their behaviour is not acceptable to us. It is important to assert our self respect and develop a healthy relationship with ourselves.

Setting these boundaries is an integral part of ensuring a healthy dynamic in a personal relationship. It is important to communicate these boundaries without blame to ensure the message is heard but still let them know how their behaviour is affecting us. A simple way to lay out these boundaries is to use a basic structure:

When you – a description of the behaviour that you find unacceptable. You want to make this as specific as possible and not rely on your perception of the behaviour but to be about the actual behaviour itself.

I feel – the impact the behaviour has on you. It is important to not let this define us but rather be an emotionally honest expression of our feelings.

I want – a description of the behaviour that it is you want from the other person.

If you – again a description of the behaviour that we find unacceoptable.

I will – a description of what steps you will take to protect yourself and that boundary if it is violated. Realise that you can only control yourself and not the other person. This part is not a form of punishment or manipulation but a way to protect yourself. The consequence should be realistic and within your power to enforce.

So an unhealthy boundary would be saying “You can’t go out any more”. This is quite visibly an aggressive means of manipulation and control and does nothing to create an environment of mutual respect or emotional connection. It will create an aura of defensiveness and possibly be looked upon as a challenge.

A healthier version would be “When you go out and do not let me know where you are I feel insecure and worry about what you are doing. I want to be with someone who is completely honest and transparent so that I can have complete trust in them. If you do not wish to respect my needs and be a partner in this marriage then realize I will confront your behaviour, voice my concerns, and insist of counseling. Should nothing change, then I shall maintain my dignity and self respect and re-evaluate my desire to stay in this relationship”. A statement such as this asserts your personal power over the situations you will allow yourself to be in. Strong, simple, and dignified.

Not only does the boundary have to be set, but we have to be willing to enforce them. It is not meant to be a threat or form of punishment – it is a consequence of the other person’s behaviour. The only way that we can do this is to judge that our own self worth is more important than the final outcome. Boundaries are a way to take ownership of our personal empowerment and avoid being a victim. They are a vital part of learning to communicate in a direct and honest way.

(This is a summary from

[This message edited by SerJR at 12:52 PM, December 11th (Thursday)]

RedheadTX posted 5/5/2008 12:49 PM

Thanks for this! This article really resonated with me. I have a real problem setting boundaries in my relationship. Setting boundaries is difficult enough, but actually defending my boundaries and enforcing consequences seems so Idon'tknow...parenty? Before, I think I would look at boundaries/consequences as a way of getting WH to do what I want him to do or act how I want him to act. It was all about passing the accountability on to him. Obviously, he has to own his choices and be accountable, but I never really understood my part in it. I feel like I am (finally!) getting it and realizing that setting and defending boundaries is all about ME being accountable and taking ownership of my situation. This is such a shift in thinking for me, but it is scary, freeing, liberating for me to give up the idea of trying to control another human being and trying to focus instead on controlling ME and taking myself out of victim mode. No, of course I don't deserve this and I don't think I've ever believed that I deserve this, so why have I spent so many years behaving as though I deserved this?? It's a lot to think about. This article on healthy boundaries was great, thanks for the summary!

FreedomRoad posted 5/5/2008 17:15 PM

Excellent post!

To anyone who is struggling with boundaries and would like to do further reading, I recommend Anne Katherine's book "Boundaries: Where You End And I Begin"

Balancing Act posted 5/5/2008 18:58 PM

Thank you very much for this!

and Redhead - I loved the way you interpreted the need for boundaries! I don't want to be a parent, but when I look at boundaries as me owning my situation it makes a whole lot of sense!

I will refer to this often!

JustKeepSwimmig posted 5/5/2008 19:58 PM

Great post! Thank you so much I will read again and again and keep it close in mind when talking to wh. It's all in the wording.

[This message edited by JustKeepSwimmig at 7:58 PM, May 5th (Monday)]

GotToHaveHope posted 5/5/2008 23:38 PM

This is a good post. Thanks, SerJR, you always seem to have helpful information.

Darius posted 5/6/2008 16:34 PM

As someone who has difficulty asking for what I want (and communicating in general) this is great.

SerJR posted 9/30/2008 12:38 PM

UnbearablySadd posted 9/30/2008 15:03 PM

GREAT post, thanks! And perfect timing wise for us. Thank you :)

ThoughtIKnewYa posted 2/3/2009 10:26 AM

ThoughtIKnewYa posted 2/19/2009 13:17 PM

realgood2u posted 4/27/2009 22:40 PM


PerpleNerple posted 4/28/2009 12:14 PM

Jodi posted 5/25/2009 22:44 PM

Thank youf for posoting this. we are working on communication and boundaries. I appreciate this post!

UKgirl posted 8/11/2009 10:59 AM


SourCherryDrops posted 10/21/2009 14:39 PM

I just read this and it has given me plenty to think about in how i should go about setting boundaries for my WW.

punky posted 10/21/2009 22:01 PM

Thank you serjr...

That article was the basis of my personal "drawing my line in the sand".

Good stuff.

JFO's heed this advice! Draw those boundaries early on.

neverendinghurt posted 10/27/2009 15:12 PM


lostsuol posted 11/4/2009 02:43 AM

needed a re-read so thought a bump might be good idea

lyndee posted 11/15/2009 10:52 AM

Bumping for Just L.

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