Boundary Types

We have all heard how important boundaries are to have, but it is a continued topic that seems to be challenging for so many of us. Let’s start with breaking down that the different types of boundaries are. Look for future blog posts for more information on tips for boundary setting.

Terri Cole is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Author of the book Boundary Boss, the essential guide to talk true, be seen, and (finally) feel free.  Terri breaks down 5 different types of boundaries.

  1. Physical Boundaries: Physical Boundaries are referring to how much space our body needs. This includes how close people can come to us, who can touch us, and how someone needs to ask for permission. Boundary violations include being touched without permission, someone invading your personal space, entering your room or home without permission.
  2. Mental Boundaries: Mental boundaries include having our own belief system. We all have the right to our own opinions and values, and should be able to express our opinions without being immediately shut down. Someone is respectful of our mental boundaries when they listen and hear out our value or opinion without shutting us down.
  3. Emotional Boundaries: Emotional boundaries include taking responsibility for our own boundaries, and allowing others to do the same. This means not blaming others for our own emotional experience, as well as not trying to fix the emotional experience that someone else may be having.
  4. Sexual Boundaries: Sexual boundaries are respected when your partner is not coercing, pressuring or forcing any sexual behavior without your expressed consent. We are all in control of what type of sexual behavior feels good to us, and providing consent for this.
  5. Material Boundaries: Material boundaries include choosing can access or touch your material possessions. Material possessions may include money, vehicles, clothing, items in your home etc. We get to decide who needs to have permission to touch or use any of our personal items.

Use this blog post as a conversation starter with your partner. Talk through what your boundaries are in each category, and what boundaries are getting crossed in the relationship. We often let others cross our boundaries to avoid conflict – keep in mind that we need to vocalize our boundaries in order for them to be respected.


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