In the first part of this series on boundaries, we covered the basic tenets of boundaries and why they are so important. As a continuation, this article covers the different types of boundaries in relationships. From my research, there are six main types of boundaries: physical, emotional, time, sexual, mental, and material boundaries. This article will be discussing three types of boundaries.
Emotional boundaries are about respecting and honoring your feelings and emotions. This would seem intuitive but a lot of times we put our own emotional needs aside to cater to the needs and expectations of others. I’ll give an example. Say a friend calls you up and wants to talk about something they are going through. It’s ok to let them know if you’re not in the mood to listen, give advice, or help them dissect their situation. While it’s great to be there for a friend emotionally and have them be there for you too, there has to be a balance. Some of us are experts at putting our feelings and emotions aside to “be there” for others. It’s ok to do this but make sure you’re giving just as much and even more attention to your own life and your own issues.
Do you bury your feelings and ignore your struggles, yet expend emotional energy on someone else’s issue? It’s ok to take a break and refill your cup. Say “I don’t feel like talking right now”. If you know a call is going to be draining but you know you won’t be able to resist, then it’s ok to ignore those calls or mute those conversations — till you have the capacity for it. Remember, you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone.
Mental boundaries are also referred to as intellectual boundaries. There are things that drain us mentally and they can be hard to spot — not until the damage has been done. I’ve identified two types of mental boundaries. You have to set mental boundaries between
~You and yourself
~You and others
You and Yourself: Or you and technology. Today’s technology, social and political climate has put us smack right in the middle of all the things that are happening all the time. There’s always breaking news, political scandal, this drama, that drama, the world is on fire, bla bla bla. No wonder there is a mental health crisis and we are all so drained all the time. While it is necessary to stay informed and sometimes involved with the things going on, it shouldn’t have to be all the time. Set boundaries for yourself knowing that you don’t have to mentally engage with every bit of news or scandal out there.
You and others: You also don’t have to engage with every conversation that is being thrown in your direction. For example, sometimes people want to talk about politics, race, gender, the climate, etc. While these topics can be interesting and even necessary to tackle, they can also be mentally draining. Couple that with having to engage with people who don’t know how to have a healthy debate and would rather force-feed you their often problematic POVs (they are usually the ones that always like to bring up these topics). Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour of your life engaged in a very unpleasant conversation that has left you upset, irritated, and damn near nihilistic. How about you don’t engage at all? Do it to protect your peace and mental energy Just smile, nod, and walk away.
A few years ago, a new friend suggested we go to the park on a Tuesday afternoon to hang out and “catch up”. I told her I couldn’t, as on Tuesday afternoon I would be working (which any reasonable person would understand). She got upset and insisted. Her reasoning was that since I was working remotely, I could easily move my schedule around so I could have a picnic with her. Fortunately for me this time around, my priorities were straight. I told her a resounding “No”.
If you let them, people will continue to demand things from you that encroach on your time and wellbeing. Time boundaries allow you to be disciplined and prioritize the important things. If you don’t set boundaries for how you spend your time, you start to lose control of your day and lose track of where all the time went. Remember, how you spend your days is how your spend your life.
Remember that as you set your boundaries in relationships, you should also learn to respect other people’s boundaries as well. It’s a two-way street.