A boundary is a space between you and another person. As the gatekeeper, you can decide how close another person gets to you physically and emotionally. For the full article:
  1. Understand the purpose of healthy boundaries.
    Healthy boundaries are a way to protect yourself, giving yourself freedom to conduct your life in a way that helps you flourish. People model boundaries based on what they’ve learned in previous relationships – with their parents, siblings, friends, and romantic partners.
  2. Compare healthy and unhealthy boundaries.
    Before you can establish healthy boundaries, you need to recognize what unhealthy boundaries look like. Some unhealthy boundaries include: *Needing to always be together with your partner. *Manipulating your partner. *Inability to have friendships with other people. *Using alcohol and drugs to make yourself feel more comfortable in your relationship. *Wanting the relationship to never change. *Jealousy or lack of commitment.
  3. Recognize what emotional boundaries are.
    Healthy emotional boundaries mean that you are able to voice your desires and preferences. Your emotional boundaries separate your emotions from those of another. They protect your self-esteem. These “include beliefs, behaviors, choices, sense of responsibility, and your ability to be intimate with others.”
  4. Recognize physical boundaries for your physical self.
    Another aspect of physical boundaries is the physical distance between us and another person. People who are good friends or family members have less physical distance between them in their interactions. Note: *N. Europeans and N. Americans observe the largest personal space distance. *Middle Eastern countries, South America, and S. Europe have the smallest personal space distance, and touching is common. *Eastern cultures consider touching or patting on the back as taboo and offensive.
  5. Recognize physical boundaries for your possessions.
    Physical boundaries are often described as personal space. Personal space includes physical possessions such as your home, your bedroom, your belongings, your car, etc. It is well within your rights to establish boundaries with others about respect for your privacy and your possessions.
  6. Set emotional boundaries to improve your sense of self.
    When you learn how to be a gatekeeper of your emotional boundaries, you can achieve certain results that give you a better sense of who you are. These include: *Having a healthy sense of who you are, independent from any other person. *Knowing that you have the choice in how you want to feel and your ability to act on it. *Being able to say “no” at times when you need to be assertive and true to yourself.
  7. Decide to set boundaries.
    Recognizing that you need to establish boundaries or improve them is a first step. Boundaries are an extension of love and respect for yourself and others, instead of a reaction to fear or rejection. They are the path to freedom from the need to please others in order to be loved and accepted.
  8. Define the boundary.
    Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish with a particular boundary. You will want to define each type of boundary, physical and emotional, for different settings such as at home, at work, and with friends.
  9. Establish the boundary.
    Share your boundary with the people in your life. This way, they will understand your expectations and needs.
  10. Maintain the boundary.
    For many people, this is the most challenging part of having boundaries. You are not only helping others to respect your limits. You are also retraining yourself. You may slip, but don’t forget: this is a process. Re-establish your resolve and firmly hold your boundary. You may find that others are resistant to your boundaries at first. If they respect you, they will be willing to adapt. Remember, you are not trying to change others or control them. Your focus is on how you want to be treated.
  11. Be direct.
    Being direct and concise is a respectful way to let others know what your boundaries are. In contrast, being indirect, whiny, or using lengthy explanations will send mixed messages.
  12. Take care of yourself.
    One of the hardest parts of establishing and maintaining boundaries is our fear of appearing rude or selfish. Put yourself first by recognizing and honoring your feelings. This does not mean that you are dismissive of others or their feelings. Your quest for boundaries hinges on your willingness to take care of yourself so that you can be there for others. Give yourself permission to recognize and honor the boundaries that you need to function successfully.
  13. Eliminate toxic people from your life.
    You have the right to eliminate toxic people from your life, those who would manipulate and abuse you. Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time but you will be successful if you surround yourself with supportive people who respect you and your choices. You are not responsible for the way others react to you when you maintain your healthy boundaries.
  14. Start small.
    Begin with a boundary that is manageable as you learn this new skill. Choose something non-threatening. As you define and establish clear and healthy boundaries, you will find it easier to maintain them. At the same time, you will notice your confidence growing and your relationships improving.
  15. Be patient while building relationships.
    Establishing boundaries is a good step in developing a healthy relationship. Deep friendships are built over time. They cannot be rushed by crossing social boundaries or sharing more than is appropriate. You can still feel connected to another person even when you have healthy boundaries. But you will be able to respect yourself, your time, and your own needs without being enmeshed with the other person.