“Healthy boundaries” is one of those therapy-tinged phrases that is often used and rarely understood. If you ever find yourself nodding along when a friend suggests you set boundaries with someone or in a relationship while silently wondering what a boundary is, this article is for you. Here I’ll explain the three types of boundaries – physical, ego, and self-image – and give you the tools to help you establish healthy ones.
The easiest boundary for most to understand is the physical one. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who stood so close it made you uncomfortable? This close-talker (to borrow a term from “Seinfeld”) has crossed the invisible lines that form your personal space. While setting physical boundaries with everyone who crosses your path isn’t realistic, setting them with those you’re closest to is. For example, if your partner is a big fan of public displays of affection, but they make you uncomfortable, talk to him or her about it. Speaking to those you’re closest to about your physical boundaries is an excellent way to begin a larger conversation about limits.