Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.


(21 Posts)
DangerRabbit Thu 13-Feb-14 18:22:15

I've been reading the relationships board with interest and finding it very educational when it comes to reflecting on behaviour in relationships. I notice the word boundaries coming up quite a bit and I was wondering about its use. When you use the word "boundaries" on here, do you mean "the ability to say no to people"? Or something else?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 13-Feb-14 18:28:42

It's really your personal tolerances. What is acceptable behaviour and what isn't. These vary from individual to individual and it's not necessarily about saying no.... more about having standards, values, lines that you will not cross.

brokenhearted55a Thu 13-Feb-14 18:32:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

brokenhearted55a Thu 13-Feb-14 18:34:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

something2say Thu 13-Feb-14 18:34:47

I think boundaries are also about understanding what is your problem and what is someone else's.

Logg1e Thu 13-Feb-14 18:38:37

For me it's where the line lies in terms of behaviour I do accept and don't accept.

DangerRabbit Thu 13-Feb-14 18:50:52

That's interesting cogito. So you interpret it as something similar to ethics? Or morals?

Offred Thu 13-Feb-14 18:52:14

Yes on a personal level having boundaries is knowing what is acceptable and what isn't. You need to be good at maintaining boundaries by asserting what you have set as your boundaries.

On a wider level having good boundaries is about thinking outside yourself a bit and knowing where those boundaries should be in order for you to have healthy relationships.

When someone has poor boundaries - either because they have set boundaries poorly or because they don't maintain them properly it can cause difficulty in any area of their life where they need to have interpersonal relationships - families, sexual or professional relationships etc

Offred Thu 13-Feb-14 18:54:58

Yeah so I think it isn't just about deciding what's acceptable to you but what should be acceptable to you and also what way it is acceptable or desirable to behave towards other people.

DangerRabbit Thu 13-Feb-14 19:02:08

Thanks for the link broken. From your first post, sounds like you may have had a bad experience with someone crossing your boundaries lately. I'm not just talking about boundaries in love relationships, but also more generally, eg with difficult family members. But I welcome all ypur views and experiences.

Something, it's interesting what you sayabout knowing what's your problem and what's someone else's. I struggle with this a lot as I'm something of a rescuer.

Logg1e, how do you decide what you do and don't accept? Is it just from having a bad experience of someone crossing your boundaries meaning you enforce it more strictly next time, or have you always been very certain about what you do and don't accept?

hamptoncourt Thu 13-Feb-14 19:16:15

If, like me, you have been brought up by a dysfunctional parent, who allowed you no personal boundaries, it can be very difficult to understand them.

Is this the case with you OP? I also read baggage reclaim and find the linked boundaries a very good basis.

As a child I was forced to share a bedroom with my mother ( there was an empty spare room) and she interfered in every facet of my life, criticising me constantly. It has taken me a very long time to realise that you are allowed privacy, time to yourself, to say NO, to not accept other peoples negativity, to say, "That's your shit, you keep that thanks."

Be clear about your own values and how you want to live your life, and follow that. The boundaries issue will become clearer.

Logg1e Thu 13-Feb-14 19:20:26

Danger Logg1e, how do you decide what you do and don't accept?

This is something that really interests me, because it's very different to what my sisters accept. I think a difficult childhood means I take a very hard approach, I really don't take any shit. My two younger sisters, however, accept behaviours from others that I just wouldn't. My mum feels they get that from her, and it saddens her.

So, in answer to your question(!) In love, I think I have very high barriers, they are defensive and stop me getting hurt. I hold grudges, people get one chance and I let few people "in". On the positive side, people know where they stand with me. Friends describe me as somebody who is hard to get close to, but I'm a true friend after that.

Logg1e Thu 13-Feb-14 19:25:54

I'm also a "rescuer" and I have found it very difficult to learn when I'm rescuing and how not to.

DangerRabbit Thu 13-Feb-14 19:28:26

Offred I like your comprehensive explanation. It's good to think about the wider impact of having good or poor boundaries and also that it is not only about how we allow people to treat us but also how we treat other people.

Also what you say about the impact of boundaries in all areas of your lives. I have been having therapy and A consequence of this, I have noticed, is that my relationships with other people have improved, not only with people I was close to, but also aquaintances and colleagues. I thought it was because I felt more sure of myself but perhaps it is because I have become better at maintaining boundaries?

DangerRabbit Thu 13-Feb-14 19:47:01

Hampton court: "If, like me, you have been brought up by a dysfunctional parent, who allowed you no personal boundaries, it can be very difficult to understand them.

Is this the case with you OP? I also read baggage reclaim and find the linked boundaries a very good basis."

Yes, my mum was a bit like this, although not as bad as your mum, because at least I had my own room. She more had the tendency to inappropriately emotionally confide in me at an early age. (I think my dad wasn't very emotionally supportive of her - he was certainly EA to everyone in the family, and singled me out to pick on more, for some reason. Probably because I wouldn't back down). The effect of my mum confiding all her problems in me from pre-school age meant I walked around trying to sort out everyone else's problems, and getting over-involved in people's lives. I have also found it difficult to confront people when I have a problem, and have been previously told at work that I "have problems dealing with conflict" as I tend to run away.

I have been in therapy for about 2 years, and I have gradually found that these problems have been getting easier - I have found it easier to confront people rather than running away lile I used to fo, and also I have noticed the dynamics of my friendships and relationship changing. Maybe I have got better at setting boundaries. However I still worry about having successful relationships, and I am particularly concerned about bringing up my child in a dysfunctional way (which was my original reason for having therapy in the first place).

DangerRabbit Thu 13-Feb-14 20:00:36

Logg1e, do you get frustrated with your sisters when they don't set as strong boundaries as you? And how did you learn to identify when you were rescuing and put a stopper on it, as I would love to be able to do that?

Logg1e Thu 13-Feb-14 20:22:40

I used to get frustrated, not at their choices, but at them coming to me with the problems caused by their choices.

It's not so bad now that I recognise I don't have to rescue them, their suffering is not my fault nor my responsbility. I still find it very difficult though. I don't know how to deal with it. Do I endure the emotionally draining phone calls by listening (and not making suggestions) or do I say, "look, until you do X or Y I really can't take these phone calls any more"?

Offred Thu 13-Feb-14 21:21:10

What kind of therapy have you been having if you don't mind me asking?

It sounds like it has helped you.

I've struggled with this stuff for a long time. So much better now than I have been, it feels like a long road to repair a whole life of abuse tbh and I'm aware I need some therapy but not sure which way to go (can't do anything until april anyway).

Offred Thu 13-Feb-14 21:22:19

But yes, sure the improvement in your relationships is related to better boundaries or maintenance of them. My experience is similar.

hamptoncourt Fri 14-Feb-14 09:05:36

Danger yes I had the exact same emotional dumping from my mother. I had adult worries from about the age of 4 or 5. I wouldn't say I had a childhood really.

It feels really odd at first to establish boundaries but it has made me so much happier and eventually people adjust. If they don't then that is too bad. For example, I am completely No Contact with my mother as she is too toxic to bear. That is me setting a reasonable boundary. She routinely abused me so I avoid her.

One thing that has helped me with regard to conflict is to remember that if you have no conflict in your life, then are you really living authentically? Conflict naturally arises when we are being honest with one another so there is nothing to be scared of. I know if I dared to stand up to my mother I would be punished but I have changed and have left those old behaviours behind.

Sounds like you are doing a lot of work on yourself and I wish you lots of luck.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 14-Feb-14 09:24:59

Personal morals and ethics, certainly. It's being in control of your own life and decisions as far as possible and that means setting your own standards and having integrity. The alternative to 'boundaries' is to find yourself at the mercy of others or placing the needs and wishes of others as more important than your own. That's a recipe for misery, low self-esteem and exploitation. Some things in life we simply can't control but have to endure. Everything else we can influence.

If you've grown up believing it's your responsibility to fix or please others and sacrifice your own needs, setting boundaries can feel selfish at first. Gets easier with practice and time.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: