3 Types of Boundaries

A boundary is a defined limit that individuals set to protect their personal space, emotions, and overall well-being. It acts as a guideline for how they want to be treated by others and helps manage interactions in a healthy and respectful manner. Boundaries can be physical, such as personal space, or emotional, such as how much emotional energy one is willing to invest in relationships. They are essential for maintaining healthy relationships and ensuring mutual respect, preventing burnout, and fostering self-respect and autonomy.

You may have heard about the benefits of setting boundaries with family, friends, and coworkers—by communicating your needs and wants, you can boost your self-esteem, prioritize your mental and emotional health, and improve your overall well-being. In the long run, boundaries can also enhance the relationships you have with those around you since they can help you feel respected instead of resentful. But did you know that there are numerous types of boundaries? Here are three of the most common:

  1. Physical boundaries – You communicate how you want to be touched and how much personal space you need. For example, you can let a colleague know that you’d rather shake hands instead of hugging or kissing. This doesn’t just apply to your body, either—you can also let your in-laws know that you don’t feel comfortable having them enter your bedroom while they’re babysitting.
  2. Material boundaries – You communicate when you’re willing to lend out money and possessions and how you want them to be treated. For instance, you can let a friend know that you can’t afford to lend them more than $100. Or, you can tell your son that he can only borrow your car if he returns it with a full tank of gas.
  3. Time boundaries – You communicate how you want to use your time. For example, you can tell your boss that you can’t stay past the end of your scheduled workday. Or, you can ask your spouse to refrain from calling and texting while you’re having dinner with friends.

Start Setting Boundaries in Your Life

The lack of setting boundaries can lead to unhappiness in any of the areas and even resentment. Beginning to be aware of and communicate boundaries is like working a muscle. You can start by communicating boundaries that have a lower cost or impact if not followed to get the feel of how it works for you. For example, you can let your partner know that you value alone time and need a certain amount of it each week to recharge. You might say, "I really enjoy spending time with you, but I also need some alone time to relax and recharge. Let's make sure we each have our personal time every week." This sets a respectful limit and helps maintain a healthy balance in the relationship.

If you need help implementing any of the boundaries described above, contact us today and ask to schedule a consultation with one of the skilled therapists on our team. We understand the many benefits that healthy boundaries can offer, and we’ll work with you to identify the steps you’ll need to take to set them in your life with partners, children (especially adult ones!), in laws, friends and coworkers.