Boundaries are a form of self-care and allow us to protect against relationships becoming intrusive or unsafe.  Although it’s commonly assumed that boundaries create restriction and distance in a relationship, in reality, they foster intimacy by providing a healthy structure for navigating relationships.  The following are 4 common types of boundaries:

MENTAL:  Mental boundaries allow us to protect our mental health and emotional well-being.  Some examples may include: limiting personal access to the news or time spent on social media, ending conversations that become volatile or personally triggering.

EMOTIONAL:  Emotional boundaries allow us to create a space between our emotional experience and that of another.  Taking time and space to feel and reflect on our own emotions increases our ability to engage effectively with others, without compromising our mental health.  Some examples may include: communicating your personal needs or feelings in response to shame or blame, taking a time-out when you feel you need time to de-escalate or emotionally reset, setting limits with others regarding your capacity to provide them with emotional support.

PHYSICAL:  Physical boundaries include your body, personal space, and your privacy.  Physical boundaries allow us to establish autonomy over ourselves and our bodies.  Some examples may include: not attending an event because you don’t feel safe due to the location or someone in attendance, asking friends/partner/family members not to go through your personal belongings (e.g., phone, purse, desk) without your permission, not hugging another out of feelings of obligation.

SEXUAL: Sexual boundaries include your physical body, comfort level, and our interests and willingness to engage in sexual experiences.  Some examples may include:  saying “no” to sexual acts with which you don’t feel comfortable, use of contraception, and use of a “safe word” when engaging is certain activities.

When boundaries are clear we know where others stand and what we can expect from others.  Boundaries further communicate to others how to best engage with us.  They allow us to prioritize ourselves and our needs, and they create a space for us to engage in things that fuel our passion and sense of purpose.