personal growth

Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


Defining Healthy Boundaries: Only You Know What You Need

PUBLISHED May 10th, 2021 & UPDATED ON Nov 22nd, 2022

Have you ever been stretched suuuper thin at work, so you plan to do ALL the self-care when you get home? But, as soon as you get all cozy and settle in for your movie marathon with a glass of wine…a friend or a family member calls! They’re clearly distressed and ask you if you have some time to talk.

All of a sudden, you find yourself spending TWO HOURS talking to this person and it completely drains the tiny little bit of energy you had left. You have no more time for self-care (feel even worse) and you feel the burden of that person’s pain. You start to wonder if you should have even answered that call in the first place. 

Situations like this happen when you don’t set clear boundaries for yourself. YOU needed that time for you. So, we’re gonna show you how to start putting your needs first — because you don’t need to put up with less than you deserve!   

What Are Boundaries?

Setting boundaries means drawing a clear line for what people can and can’t say or do to you so that you don’t get taken advantage of. They’re like an instruction manual for your body and mind, with an extra little “handle with care” section on the first page. You use boundaries to make your own personal growth a priority, improve relationships and conserve emotional energy! 

Setting healthy boundaries means that you don’t compromise your values for other people. You stand by your values and, in turn, respect other people’s boundaries. But, it is good to keep your boundaries flexible, because they may change over time if you decide to step out of your comfort zone.   

Healthy boundaries are in contrast to rigid boundaries where you tend to avoid intimacy and come off as detached. And, porous boundaries, which involve oversharing personal information and having trouble saying ‘no.’ But it’s totally normal to sometimes take on qualities from all of the above! 

Types of Boundaries

Unfortunately, boundaries aren’t a “No Trespassing” sign that you can just strap on your body and take with you wherever you go (although that would be kinda cool). They have to be expressed through good communication. Clarify what you want and why these boundaries are important to you, and be respectful and realistic about your expectations! 

There are 6 types of personal boundaries:

  • Personal Space: also known as your “bubble.” 
  • Physical: what you like and don’t like in bed or with casual contact.
  • Emotional: your level of comfort with sharing what’s on your mind. 
  • Material: how much you are willing to share certain things or possessions. 
  • Time And Energy: how much you are comfortable giving to something or someone. 
  • Intellectual: the topics you are and aren’t open to talking about (like politics). 

It’s important to learn how to set boundaries with friends and how to set boundaries with family. Setting boundaries in relationships and setting boundaries in dating top the list, too! Because these are generally the people who can hurt you the most by violating said boundaries. 

Setting Healthy Boundaries

If you’re experiencing issues with any of the above, we’ve brainstormed some ways for you to respond in a way that is respectful but still reinforces your boundaries. Try any variation of these when the situation comes up, and whoever is on the receiving end should accept your choice!

“My bedroom is my personal space so I’d rather if you didn’t come in.”

“I have a hard time with roughness in bed, so can we take it slow?” 

“I’m sorry you’re going through a tough time, but I’m not in the right headspace to be there for you right now. Can we talk about this later?”

“I can come, but only for an hour because I have something I need to get done today.”

“Just so you know, I don’t really like to have other people drive my car.” 

“I see what you’re saying. I just think we have different opinions on this, so let’s agree to disagree.”

Overstepping Boundaries

Overstepped boundaries need consequences. Otherwise, it’s too easy for someone to cross them and think nothing of it. Now, when we say consequences we don’t mean yelling at, or punishing, the person who crossed them (that won’t be very effective). Your best bet is to solve any boundary issues with self-love and self-care! If someone has overstepped your boundaries, try these tips. 

1. Listen to Your Body

If it’s coming at you with anger and anxiety, one of your boundaries was likely crossed. (Joy and love, on the other hand, are a good sign that your comfort zone is being respected!)

2. Act On It

If you no longer feel safe, loved or respected, make it known! Even if that means taking time away from the person who crossed your boundary, not broaching certain topics with them, or, if they just won’t learn, ending the relationship. 

3. Own It

No one else has a say over your boundaries. So, rather than waiting around for someone to respect them, choose and set them for yourself! Only YOU know what you need when you’re not being treated the way you should be. 

And, there you have it! The time has come for you to set those healthy boundaries with family, friends, colleagues, anyone and everyone else…because you deserve to feel heard and respected.


Read More: How to Have Difficult Conversations with Your Loved Ones, How to Make Sure Your New Year Goals Are Mindful Resolutions,