You have difficulty saying “no” to the requests of others, not wanting to hurt another’s feelings or seem unkind. In fact, you sometimes doubt that you have the right to have your needs met, or make little effort to have them met. You may overshare personal information, and may have been accused of TMI (too much information) one time or another. You get over involved in others’ problems, preferring that to facing your own. Though you may tell yourself otherwise, you are dependent on the opinions of others, and fear rejection if you do not comply with the wishes of others. You tend to avoid conflict. You accept the abuse or disrespect of others, and may tell yourself that by not responding you are taking the high road or that they’re not worth the effort.
When you think of this prevailing boundary type of Porous Boundaries, ask yourself in what areas of your life it is most true. People actually have a mix of different boundary types. For example, someone could have healthy boundaries at work, porous boundaries in romantic relationships, and a mix of all four types with their family.
The appropriateness of boundaries depends heavily on setting. What’s appropriate to say when you’re out with friends might not be appropriate when you’re at work.
What are the Four Boundary Types?
Personal boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships.
A person with Healthy Boundaries can say “no” to others when they want to, but they are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships.
A person who always keeps others at a distance (whether emotionally, physically, or otherwise) is said to have Rigid Boundaries. Rigid Boundaries represent a protection from vulnerability, where hurt, loss and rejection can occur and be especially painful.
Someone who tends to get too involved with others has Porous boundaries. When boundaries are Porous, you may easily take on the emotions and needs of others, and you may experience difficulty identifying your own emotions and needs.
Nonexistent Boundaries mean, of course, that you have no protection at all. The walls have crumbled, and the doors are broken down. Raiding parties come and go at all hours of the day and night. Nonexistent Boundaries are marked by excesses.
What is important about knowing your Prevailing Boundary Type is being able to specifically address where it holds you back in relationships, robs you of your potential, and leaves you feeling exhausted, humiliated and hurt.
For more information about assessing your personal boundaries and learning skills to set and enforce them, read these posts:
Boundaries: The Inside Story
Standing Up for Yourself: The Right Way to Be Assertive
Download The Practical Guru’s FREE 30-page mini course in boundaries:
“A Guide for Setting and Enforcing Healthy Boundaries”