The Healthy Relationship: 1. What Are Boundaries?

| Karen Scarth |

Our relationships can be our greatest source of fulfillment, meaning, love, and belonging. However, when the boundary between two people is dysfunctional in some way, relationships can become torturous and leave us feeling trapped, miserable, rejected, and heartbroken.

When I reflect on what I do as a clinical psychologist I realize that the vast majority of discussion in therapy is devoted to sorting out relationship boundaries.

A boundary can be viewed as an understanding that exists between two people — or the rules of a particular relationship. Each relationship is defined by its own set of rules. These rules help us to determine what we can expect from a particular relationship. For example, is this relationship sexual? Is this person someone I can count on for anything? Is this someone I only have casual conversation with at work but would never contact outside of work? Is this someone I could borrow money from?

These boundaries and rules are not necessarily static. A relationship can evolve and its boundaries and rules can change over time.

In the next post, I will discuss why we create and need rules in a relationship.

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