Kinds of Boundaries

Boundaries apply both ways. What it means to you and require others to follow; the boundaries of others that you have to respect and follow too.

You respect mine. I respect yours. Yet it is not quid pro quo. Depending on the value statement that you live by, you will/will not respect others’ whether they follow yours or not.

Physical Boundaries refer to what you define as your personal space and your definition of physical touch that you would allow from whom. They also vary according to your culture.

The shake hands or bow or a Namaste, for eg and the amount of physical distance you maintain from each other. In some cultures it is okay to sit physically close to an unknown person of the same gender but not of the opposite gender. At the movies, you may find a couple exchanging seats if the person next to theirs is of the opposite gender in India. In many schools in India, girls and boys sit separately. In shared accommodation, say hostels and dorms, bathroom etiquette, usage and handling of utensils, television, the couch, visitors etc have to be mutually agreed upon.

Emotional boundaries pertain to one’s feelings. Self disclosure norms, criticism, feedback and opinion on feelings, emotions are a few of the examples that are part of emotional boundaries.

Person A found it impertinent of a colleague commenting on his hair, although it was a compliment. He was the senior most in the company next to the President. He did not like such intrusions into his personal space. This case, maybe taken very lightly by someone else as it was just a compliment. In another case, two people were arguing in the corridor. After one left, somebody came up and said, pal, you did well. That was not welcomed and was met with a stony, mind your own business. In families, it is often seen that a parent is criticized by a adult-offspring to a friend but when that friend criticizes, it is not liked.

Sexual boundaries are those that pertain to the emotional, intellectual and physical acts of sexuality. Healthy sexual boundaries, mutual understanding and respect of limitations and desires between partners are defined here. Consent plays a major role here.

Let us say, Persons A and B are good friends. This does not imply that sexual consent is implicit. Sexual boundaries too are influenced a lot by cultures. In many cultures, it is narrowly defined by the way one dresses, speaks, friendly nature. Cases of sexual assault and rape are a result of when sexual boundaries are interpreted by behavior in unrelated situations. Just because one is friendly, happy and social in a party does not imply that sexual consent follows.

Between married couples too, there are boundaries unlike misperceived notion that since they are married, they don’t require boundaries. Cases of rape and physical violence are very much prevalent amongst married couples.

Time boundaries are with regard to how one manages his time effectively. It is not mere time management by oneself, rather intrusion of one’s time by others that has to be explicitly or implicitly defined.

Demanding or ill-defined personal relationships may pave the way for encroaching into one’s time. In families esp, there is this overlapping and encroachment which can be taken lightly depending on day to day situations, unless one is working from home. Can it? At the office, this becomes annoying when a new assignment is allotted and priority preceding the present task’s deadline. Tricky situations arise when a junior executive is reporting to multiple bosses; who sets boundaries and whose job to finish first?!

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