top of page
  • Writer's picturePieter Niemann

What Does Personal Boundaries Look Like? A Guide to Setting Healthy Limits

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Adulting can be tough, but establishing healthy personal boundaries can make the journey smoother. The secret to an easy life is knowing where you start and end, as well as where others start and end, and then respecting those boundaries. In this article, we'll explore what personal boundaries are, why they're important, and the different types of boundaries.

What are Boundaries?

In its simplest form, personal boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves that determine what we're comfortable with and what we're not. Boundaries are like fences or walls. Some people have walls like a fort, others have a line in the sand, while some have palisading. These three types of boundaries are the ones we encounter most frequently, but it's essential to note that people often have a mixture of these boundaries.

Weak Boundaries

Weak boundaries are like a line in the sand. This type of boundary formation is the person that has boundaries in theory but not in practice. They tend to believe everything they're told and accept it as a reason for their behavior. They'll often help people when they don't have to, just because they want to help or avoid feeling guilty for not helping. They tend to experience anxiety and external judgment within themselves.

An example of weak boundaries is the aunt in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," who talks about her twin to complete strangers. The character is entirely unaware that this makes people uncomfortable, uneasy, or end up laughing at them. The same is often true for people with weak boundaries, who have inappropriate conversations with people they don't know at all.

Rigid Boundaries

On the other side of the coin, we have rigid boundaries, which are like walls around a fort. People with rigid boundaries tend to refuse outright to help others, even when it's necessary. They're not comfortable with letting others in and can come across as cold, distant, or unapproachable. They're often rigid and inflexible in their thinking and may struggle with change or new experiences.

Flexible Boundaries

Flexible boundaries, like palisading, are the most healthy and effective boundaries to have. People with flexible boundaries are comfortable with letting others in, but they know where to draw the line. They're willing to help others, but they're also willing to say no when they need to. They're adaptable and open to new experiences, but they also have a strong sense of self.

Why Are Boundaries Important?

Establishing healthy personal boundaries is essential for maintaining healthy relationships, both with ourselves and with others. They allow us to communicate our needs effectively, respect the needs of others, and maintain our personal space and privacy. Boundaries also help us to establish our values and beliefs, which can guide us in our decision-making.

In conclusion, setting healthy personal boundaries can be challenging, but it's an essential part of adulting. Weak boundaries can leave us feeling anxious and overwhelmed, while rigid boundaries can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. By establishing flexible boundaries, we can maintain healthy relationships and live our best lives.


bottom of page