Unhealthy boundaries can be disastrous.
It can lead to people using you, taking advantage of you and wasting too much of your kindness and generosity.
Having personal guidelines helps you enforce what you are and aren’t comfortable with inside romantic, friend, family, co-worker and any other type of relationship.
Here, we’re discussing what unhealthy boundaries look like.
What Are Boundaries?
Boundaries are persona rules you set to identify what you’re comfortable with in a relationship. A boundary may state that it’s okay when a friend does this action, but not when they do that action. A simple boundary many people set is that they’re okay with regularly texting their friends, but they don’t want to be available 24/7. A more specific boundary would be that you’re okay with texting your boss about work, but not about your personal life.
Boundaries are set by the people in the relationship. In some circumstances, they may be set by a governing body (for example, human resources rules within a company). Boundaries look different to everyone and it’s okay if yours look different from your friends. For example, your friend may be okay with their friends texting them non-stop, but you don’t like that and that’s your boundary.
Both people in a relationship should operate within each other’s boundaries. This is true for friendships, relationships, co-workers and family.
Examples of healthy boundaries include:
- Saying sorry for your own problems but refusing to take the blame for others
- Being there for a friend but not being on call 24/7
- Allowing a partner to be angry at their day but not to take that anger out on you
- Having more personal space or time alone
Unhealthy boundaries are ones that don’t reflect your personal needs. For example, let’s say you set a boundary with your partner that they can know your passwords, but they can’t login to your accounts. If you’re uncomfortable with that rule and it makes you feel that they don’t trust you or are creeping on you, that’s an unhealthy boundary. Instead a healthier boundary and one that feels right to you may be that your partner can’t have access to your passwords or accounts at all.
14 Unhealthy Boundaries
If you’re wondering if you have unhealthy boundaries, consider the list below.
#1 Sharing Your Entire Life with Strangers
Sometimes, you connect with someone and you share a lot about yourself right away. But if this happens to you all the time and you find yourself giving up intimate details to strangers, it could be a sign of unhealthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries would typically reserve some privacy until you better know someone. Giving trust so blindly can mean guards are too low.
#2 Sitting/Standing Close Physically
Everyone knows someone who invades their “personal space.” This person talks way too close to your face and seems to not get the hint when you take a step back. If this has been you at times, it’s a sign you have unhealthy boundaries and that you’re violating other people’s.
#3 Contradicting Your Values
If you’re being influenced to contradict a personal or moral value, it’s likely that you have unhealthy boundaries. For example, let’s say your partner is protesting an issue that you morally disagree with, but you agree to go along anyway. Or, maybe your friend is insisting you miss your mother’s birthday party so they can rant about their date—so you forgo your value of family. These are signs you need to adjust your boundaries so they better align with your values.
#4 Touching Another Without Asking
Touching someone without getting permission is a sign of an unhealthy boundary. For example, let’s say you’re pregnant and everyone in the office is suddenly your friend, coming up and feeling your belly. A healthy boundary would be co-workers who either ask first or respect your physical space entirely.
#5 Taking Bad Behavior
Let’s say you’re in a relationship and you know your partner is treating you badly. You’ve tried to make them change it, but they won’t, so you stay in the relationship. A healthy boundary looks like ending the relationship when bad behavior isn’t fixed. An unhealthy boundary encourages you to stay and downplays your needs.
#6 Never Saying No
If you have a friend that you always need to say “yes” to, it’s likely you have unhealthy boundaries. You’re allowed to have personal rules around when you go out and see friends. When others are upset about your boundaries, that reflects them, not your boundary.
#7 Trusting Everyone
If you trust everyone or anyone shortly after you meet them, you probably want to set some better boundaries. Healthy personal guidelines typically look like giving out trust as it’s earned overtime.
#8 Letting People Make Your Decisions
If other people are making your decisions for you, whether big or small, it could be a sign that you have inappropriate boundaries. This could be as simple as your partner deciding what you’ll eat at a restaurant. Although they can make recommendations, deciding for you isn’t normal. You may also defer to someone else for your life’s decision because you’re used to them bending your boundaries.
#9 Accepting Gifts You Don’t Want
Let’s say you haven’t talked to your mother in years but she buys you a birthday gift each year. Even though it’s a gesture, you know it’s her way of trying to manipulate you with money and into talking with her again. If that gift crosses your boundary, it’s okay to say no thanks.
#10 Accepting Physical Affection You Don’t Want
Another sign of unhealthy boundaries is if you accept a physical action that you don’t want to. For example, let’s say your co-worker hugs you often and you’re uncomfortable with it. In these cases, you should know that you’re allowed to have personal boundaries. And others should respect them.
#11 Trying to Please Everyone
If you’re trying to do things to make everyone happy, you probably have set some unhealthy boundaries for yourself. You’re allowed to put you first.
#12 Allowing People to Take Advantage of You
When we know someone is taking advantage of us in order to gain a benefit, we should be able to call it out and correct or end the relationship. Unhealthy boundaries means that you’re silent about being walked over and the situation likely continues.
#13 Allowing People to Take an Unlimited Amount…
This could be allowing people to take an unlimited amount of time, effort, money, anything. At some point, most people have a boundary where they say “enough is enough” and draw the line. Not having this point likely symbolizes an unhealthy boundaries.
#14 Ignoring Problems
Perhaps you hate confrontation, so you’d rather pretend a problem doesn’t exist than bring it up. Or maybe you’ve brought it up so many times without a resolution that the only thing left to do is ignore it. In any case, a healthy relationship should allow you to confront and resolve problems calmly. Ignoring problems could be a sign of unhealthy boundaries that others keep crossing.
Summary: Unhealthy Boundaries
Personal boundaries are important to have in relationships because they dictate what you will and won’t accept. Identifying what you’re uncomfortable with and saying so is not only empowering, but it’s normal and healthy. If you’re not sure if you have unhealthy boundaries, read the list above and see if you can relate to any.