A friend says they want 'healthy boundaries.' What does that mean?

Q:

A friend says they want "healthy boundaries." What does that mean?

A:

This is a great conversation to be having with your friends. I wish more people were talking about having conversations with their friends about boundaries.

What are boundaries and are there different types? Boundaries are what you have decided that you want around you and how you want to be treated. There are different types of boundaries that can be set in different areas of your life.

Let’s talk about the different types of boundaries that you may want to talk about with the people in your life, as well as why they matter. I find that sitting down and talking them through is helpful. Here are some ideas to get you and your friends started with setting up spaces that feel good to you.

Material Boundaries

  • What are you comfortable with lending out and/or sharing with others?
  • How long are you comfortable lending things out for?
  • What are your limits on favors and service you are willing to be available for?
  • What are your boundaries for use of items, such as how much damage you are willing to deal with?

Physical Boundaries

  • Personal space: How close are you looking to have people near you? Are there certain ways you do not like to be approached?
  • Touching:
    • Who can touch you?
    • How they can touch you?
    • Where they can touch you?
    • When they can touch you?
  • Sexual Boundaries: Things you like and do not like. This can definitely be inclusive of your touching boundaries. It can also be in alignment of things you like and do not like. Or things you have seen and may be interested in trying or things you have seen and are in no way intrigued by.

Mental Boundaries

  • Thoughts: How you have processed ideas and keeping to what you have actually thought about
  • Values: knowing what you find to be important to you
  • Opinions: Keeping to how you view or how you have judged something
  • Beliefs: Keeping to what you find to be true


Emotional Boundaries

  • Learning how to separate your feelings from other people's feelings
  • Giving yourself permission to have feelings and not taking on the burdens of others
  • Knowing your worth, that you are worthy of love and will not put up with less
  • Being aware of your feelings
  • Being aware of your choices
  • Being aware that you are responsible for YOU


Sexual Boundaries

  • Knowing and/or learning things that seem interesting to you
  • Knowing what you are open to trying and not open to trying
  • Knowing what makes you feel good
  • Knowing the places you like to be touched and not touched

Note that figuring out other boundaries can be very helpful before you get to sexual boundaries.

These are not all of the boundaries that you can talk about with the people in your life. But it is definitely a starting point to having this amazing conversation.

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Written by Jimanekia Eborn
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Jimanekia Eborn has worked in mental health for the last 10 years, which is where she saw the need for sexual education and sexual trauma support. This has led to her passion for assisting and supporting those that are sexual assault survivors and those without access to comprehensive sex education. Her compassion and passion for these populations has pushed her to continue building safe spaces for clientele, sharing education, and supporting their mental spaces.

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