Healthy boundaries = Healthy relationships: Having unhealthy or poorly defined boundaries in relationships creates dysfunction and even chaos in families, friendships, and work or school relationships. By establishing clear, personal boundaries, we define ourselves in relation to others. In order to do this, it is necessary to identify and respect our own needs, feelings, opinions, and rights. If defines the personal property line, if you will, on who is allowed in our personal lives and who is not. Healthy boundaries define expectations and show respect for self and others.
Biblically speaking, boundaries are relative to self-control. If left unchecked, our human nature and desires will attempt to control others and (Titus 2:12). Boundaries can be used in both healthy and unhealthy ways. In order to determine which boundaries are proper, ask yourself, “what is your motive in doing what you are doing/”. Proper boundaries aid individuals in taking responsibility for their actions and reactions, thereby establishing proper balance and healthy boundaries.
Boundaries can be physical as they define who can touch us, and who cannot. They also define how physically close other individuals are allowed to approach us, or not.
Boundaries are emotional as they define where our feelings end and another individual’s begin. Do we take responsibility for our own feelings, or do we take on the responsibility of another individual’s feelings and neglect our own? Can we say no when we need to. Can we ask for what we need or do we compulsively attempt to meet the needs of others. The answers to these questions define personal property lines and how we interact with others, and how we allow them to interact with us.
Boundaries can be too rigid and can create unnecessary tension when misunderstood. Those whose boundaries are too rigid have the tendency to shut others out of their lives. They can often appear distant, and do not like to talk about their feelings or show any emotion. They do not like to ask for help and most often do not allow anyone to get too close, physically or emotionally. Individuals with rigid boundaries rarely let anyone into their personal lives.
Boundaries can be too loose and can have misinterpreted meanings. Individuals with loose boundaries often put their hands on strangers or let others touch them inappropriately. They can be sexually promiscuous and often confuse sex and love. They can be driven by the need for sexual relationships and get too close too fast. In most circumstances these individuals take on the feelings of others and can become emotionally overwhelmed and burdened. They often need constant reassurance, expect others to read their minds and think that they can read the minds of others. Yes means no, and no means yes, which creates further confusion in boundaries. Often, these individuals lead chaotic lives, full of drama and have trouble with keeping secure and trusting relationships.
Examples of the necessity of boundaries:
Marriage: Marital boundaries keep sex and intimacy within the relationship while respecting one another and the sanctity of the relationship. Violating these boundaries will quickly destroy trust and consequences will begin to evolve in the relationship.
Parenting: Children need limits and boundaries for protection (Proverbs 22:6). Boundaries allow children to develop an identity of their own, separate from their parent or caregivers within the safety of their family. Without developing this identity as a separate being, individuals can vanish, or become enmeshed into other people’s lives fail to establish any differences, identity or boundaries of their own.
Boundaries teach us to regard one another as valuable. God uses boundaries to allow us to recognize differences in people, how to appreciate the differences and how to avoid the differences that have the potential in creating trouble for us. In short, boundaries limit destructive behaviors, and that is why both God and society have laws and consequences for those who choose to ignore boundaries (Romans 13:1-4).