Intimacy Filled Pastiming: Unhealthy Boundaries


The subject of boundaries is immense.  Below are some of the signs of unhealthy boundaries.  Some of them are comprehensible all by themselves.  I think that others are not self explanatory. Therefore, next to the signs that I think might be confusing, or vague, I have provided more discussion and examples.  If you have any questions, please feel free to request further discussion in the comment section.  Having healthy boundaries leads to intimacy.  Having unhealthy boundaries leads to resentment and disappointment.

Touching a person without asking: Some people don’t like to be touched.  We don’t need to know the reason.  However, so my readers can have a deeper understanding, here are some of the causes of people not wanting to be touched: invasive past relationships in which one has no power; having a phobia about germs; fears about physical intimacy – just touching another person is somewhat of an intimate act; touching a person while they are distressed, may signal to them that they need to calm down to please you; for those who have post traumatic stress, touch can bring back traumatic memories. These causes of touch aversion are common in my clinical work.

Taking as much as you can get for the satisfaction of getting.

Giving as much as you can give in hopes you will receive appreciation/gratitude:  This is common in those who have codependency issues.  We give advice, do research, rescue, help, do favors for, etc., but do we do them with no strings attached?

Accepting food, gifts, sex, you don’t want:  Being afraid to say, “no,” is a sign of unhealthy boundaries.  Often, we think that those we say, “no,” to will be upset or angry.  And, when I hear this excuse, I always ask the question, “So what?”  Are we teaching other people that their anger can control our ability to refuse something?

Allowing someone to take as much as they can get from you.

Not noticing when someone displays inappropriate behavior.

Going against personal rights or values to please another:  True clinical case with names changed – Mary met Greg.  She instantly felt attracted to him and they spent much time together laughing and dining.  Then Mary discovered that Greg was a chronic pot smoker.  Before she met him, Mary had been adamantly against smoking marijuana.  But she decided to join Greg in smoking pot to please him – they could get high together.  This phenomena is prevalent in teenage relationships as well as adult ones.

Trusting No one.
Trusting Anyone.

Letting others direct your life:  This gives one the covert message that those around us think we are not competent enough or smart enough to make our own decisions.  And we have signed up for this, often in an effort to please.  What usually happens, though, is that the one who has allowed their life to be directed by others, feels angry.  This anger is sometimes repressed and turns into depression.

Black and white thinking:  You ALWAYS, you NEVER.

Letting others define you:  “Mom thinks I am lazy, and that I’ll never amount to anything, so I guess that’s true.”  “My husband thinks I’m fat and ugly, so I guess I am.”

Telling All:  Ever sit next to someone on an airplane who told you their entire life story?  They have unhealthy boundaries!

Being sexual for your partner, not yourself
Falling in love with a new acquaintance
Acting on the first sexual impulse
Being preoccupied with a person
Believing others can anticipate your needs
Expecting others to fill your needs automatically
Self abuse
Physical and sexual abuse
Food abuse

Next post, more on unhealthy boundaries!

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