Boundaries are good for both parties in a relationship…

by Rod Smith

I know I have poor boundaries. What can I do?

Recognizing your ill-defined boundaries is a step toward greater emotional health. Such self-awareness requires good boundaries.

Recognition is the beginning of health. Start by learning to clearly define yourself. Express who you are. Say what you like and do not like. Let people know what you want. Let others know your opinions, beliefs, values and expectations. Begin in comfortable ways, then, after some practice, begin to set boundaries about more consequential matters.

A client told me her boyfriend controlled everything. She felt she had no say in anything. He ordered food, told her when she was tired and hungry. He even dressed her and became upset when she dressed other than he preferred. He held all the money and programmed her cellular phone (blocking some numbers) – for her own good.  

She mustered the courage to tell him that despite all-encompassing love, she had her own brain, and would like to use it. She told him she would take over the driver’s seat of her life and be the one to decide on things for herself.

Despite his angry reaction she is learning to be a full person (one with good boundaries). He is apparently too immature to see that stronger boundaries between them will enhance their love, not destroy it.

2 Comments to “Boundaries are good for both parties in a relationship…”

  1. Meditation is a great way to re-discover yourself and re-define your boundries based on who you really are.

  2. In a relationship characterized by poor personal boundaries, you are not you. You are who he pretends you are, rather like a doll. He tells you what to eat, say and wear, even who to associate with. Independent thinking and action are punished because they threaten his control, indeed threaten his identity. That is because he is not who he pretends to be. He lives in the narcissistic realm of image, where appearances are everything. Love and truth are just pretty words.

    He is not readily going to change because his pathology was established in childhood by parents that didn’t accept him for who he was. So he was trained early to detest his “flawed” real identity and adopt a make-believe “perfect” identity to win their approval. Consequently, all others are expected to be part of the supporting cast, audience and fan club in the play of his perfect wonderfulness. That is why he stage-manages you, laboring day and night to make the lie seem real. And heaven help you if reality intrudes.

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