7 types of boundaries and how to set each of them
Looking for a real way to protect yourself that supports your well-being? It’s time to set boundaries. And did you know that there are actually 7 main types of boundaries you can (and should!) set?
So! Although it’s easier said than done, it’s important that we all set boundaries – for our physical, emotional and mental health.
did you know There are seven types of boundaries that create clear expectations in your relationship.
I used to be a textbook pleaser: quick to say yes and please others, even at the cost of my own health and well-being. Lacking a sense of limitation, I justified my compliance and agreeableness as a way to feel valued and loved.
For me personally, my desire to please other people came from wanting to be seen as a good sister, a good partner, a good colleague, and a good person.
According to this study, published in 1969, the notion that someone is overly eager to please makes sense, which proposed a “psychological phenomenon” called the Benjamin Franklin Effect. The Benjamin Franklin Effect states that if you ask me for a favor and I do it for you, I will have warm feelings for you.
Getting the feel-good effect of doing favors or fulfilling others’ requests can be achieved simply by setting a boundary. In this article, we’ll explore why we need boundaries and how they can empower us as individuals and affect our relationships.
We’ll also set seven types of boundaries to feel safe: physical boundaries, sexual boundaries, emotional boundaries, spiritual boundaries, financial boundaries, time boundaries, and non-negotiable boundaries, and share examples of how to set each one.
Why do we need boundaries? And why is it important to install them?
Setting boundaries is a self-care practice to protect your energy, time, and emotional and physical well-being. For our relationships to improve, we need to set boundaries because they protect us, shape our sense of well-being, and remind us of what is important to us.
Any type of boundary setting is a self-serving practice.
By setting boundaries, you can better manage your relationships, day-to-day negotiations, and social interactions instead of giving in to the whims and desires of others. You are more in touch or in tune with your needs and more aware of when you need to set boundaries in order to feel grounded and satisfied.
What happens when we do NOT set any boundaries?
We have a lot on our plate every day. Yet, for one reason or another (seeking approval and likability is often the main reason), we agree to take on more, knowing we can’t handle the other thing. While it seems impossible to set a boundary, it’s problematic when we don’t.
Given the unsurprising fact that we struggle to set boundaries, Psychology Today offers two key reasons why we don’t: We fear conflict and disappointing others. We risk burnout and resentment by constantly meeting the needs of others and sacrificing our feelings, putting their feelings before our own.
Because of this, we often say yes, even if losing weight for someone or something else is not in our best interest.
Do you often say yes when you really want to say no? Learn how to say “No” and set healthy boundaries with these 10 tips
What happens when we REALLY set boundaries?
By learning the important skill of setting boundaries (and knowing the different types of boundaries), you show respect for your time, energy, and most importantly, himself when you admit and accept that you can’t do everything.
This is easy to understand, but not always easy to explain which the specific type of boundary to be set.
According to licensed psychotherapist Dr. Sharon Martin, MSW, LCSW, who specializes in helping people struggling with perfectionism, codependency, and people-pleasing, she states:
“Boundaries are guidelines and expectations we set in a relationship. Both parties understand what behavior is acceptable and what is unacceptable.”
Armed with this knowledge, Dr. Sharon Martin shares seven types of boundaries we should all set.
There are 7 types of boundaries you need to set. Here’s what they are and how to set them up:
Dr. Martin’s struggle to feel “good enough” inspired her desire to help others learn to accept and love themselves. Her struggles led to her passion for providing tools for self-improvement through positive psychology, mindfulness, self-compassion, and healthy habits.
One such tool is her writing The Better Boundaries Workbook, which identifies seven different types of boundaries we should set: physical boundaries, sexual boundaries, emotional or mental boundaries, spiritual or religious boundaries, financial and material boundaries, time boundaries, and non-negotiable boundaries.
A way to determine the type of boundary you need to establish is to think about areas in your life where you feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable, and hurtful. You can do this by asking yourself one simple question that will help you not only set boundaries, but also ask that they be respected. Let go of feelings of resentment and ask yourself:
“What do I need now?”
It’s important to ask this question when setting your boundaries because it helps you establish clear expectations and responsibilities, and prioritize what you tolerate and how you want to be treated.
So, once you’ve determined what type of boundary you need to set, how do you become better at setting it?
Here are seven common types of boundaries and some examples of setting them to help you through the process.
1. Physical boundaries
Physical boundaries protect your physical body and your right to have your physical needs met, such as shelter, food, and rest. Physical boundaries also protect your personal space, your right to privacy, and your right to be or not be touched.
Setting these types of boundaries informs others about how to physically touch you (if they are allowed to), how much privacy you prefer, and how to treat you when you are in your personal space. Setting these boundaries helps protect your rights by making it clear that your body and space belong to you and you alone.
How to set a physical boundary:
- Move away or politely ask someone next to you to move away
- Setting house rules or expectations for cleaning, grocery shopping, and visiting guests
- Informing guests that you do not store or consume alcohol in your home
2. Sexual boundaries
The second type of boundary is the sexual boundary. Protecting your right to consent to any form of sexual activity means establishing sexual boundaries. They protect your right to ask about your partner’s sexual history and your definition of intimacy. Sexual boundaries set standards for how you want to be intimate and with whom, as well as how often, when, and where.
How to set a sexual boundary:
- Determine your personal desire not to have sex on the first date
- Share how and where you like to be touched
- Reporting unsubstantiated sexual comments
Let’s talk about sexual consent: Here’s what you need to know
3. Emotional or mental boundaries
Emotional or mental boundaries are established to protect your right to feel what you feel and think what you think without criticism or disparagement. Setting emotional and mental boundaries also protects your right to take care of your own feelings without worrying about someone else’s.
Because emotional boundaries separate your feelings from those of others, it sets a precedent that you are not responsible for how others feel, but only responsible for how you feel.
By setting emotional and mental boundaries, you ensure your safety by respecting each other’s feelings, not sharing personal information, and avoiding inappropriate conversations.
How to set an emotional or mental boundary:
- Talk to your husband about how embarrassed and helpless you feel when they scold you in front of the kids and you want them to stop
- Telling your parents that you will only bring your young children into their home if they put a gate in front of their stairs or fence in their yard
- Treat yourself with understanding and calmly explain if a friend or acquaintance inadvertently provokes you with their remarks
4. Spiritual or religious boundaries
Spiritual or religious boundaries are important to your spiritual health. Establishing these types of boundaries is an extension of our First Amendment right to freedom of religion and exercise. Those with spiritual or religious limitations know their right to worship as they wish and practice as they wish.
How to establish a spiritual or religious boundary:
- Bow your head and say a silent prayer at the table before everyone eats
- Have a partner who respects your right to attend church and socialize
- Respecting your partner for not sharing your beliefs or violating yours with theirs
Do you want to be spiritually healthy? Here are 7 ways to improve your spiritual health
5. Financial and material limits
The fifth type of border is financial and material, which protects your financial resources and property. Setting financial and material boundaries means respecting your right to spend your money and use your materials as you see fit, and to refrain from giving or lending if you don’t want to. These limits also include your right to fair pay from your employer.
How to set a financial and material limit:
- Stick to your budget by bringing lunch to work instead of ordering out with others in the office
- We strongly ask that your sibling or friend not borrow your car without asking
- Having a personal policy not to lend money to friends or family members
6. Time limits
Setting time limits is a way to protect how you prefer to spend your time. Time constraints keep you free from things you don’t want to do, surround yourself with people who don’t value your time, and overwhelm you with your work.
How to set a time limit:
- Reservation of evenings for family recreation
- Not responding to work emails in the morning
- Setting the phone to Do Not Disturb mode at a certain time of day
7. Non-negotiable boundaries
The last type of boundaries to set are non-negotiables. Non-negotiable boundaries are those that you consider to be “deal breakers” or things that you must adhere to in order to feel safe and secure.
Non-negotiable boundaries usually relate to feeling safe from physical abuse, emotional abuse, alcohol or drug use, infidelity, and all other situations that may threaten your life and well-being.
How to set a non-negotiable boundary:
- Demand fidelity in relationships and end them if your partner cheats or has an affair
- Take mental health breaks when your workload demands and drains your energy
- Making time for effective rest so you can feel energized and ready to care for others in your home or work
Like all other boundaries, we need non-negotiable boundaries. However, we must also be mindful of how many of them we put into this category. A non-negotiable boundary is only as effective as a person is willing to stick to it; otherwise it loses its effect of nourishing your well-being.
Implement these 30 non-negotiable self-care practices to help you stay calm
What type of boundary do you need to set right now?
Prioritizing takes practice. Setting boundaries makes this possible.
We hope that after learning about the seven types of boundaries, you understand how setting boundaries is a tool for protecting your energy, time, and well-being as a means of self-care.
When you think about it, setting boundaries is a human right that you shouldn’t feel guilty about following. A right worth defending when it is disrespected, ignored or abused. Hold yourself accountable by setting these boundaries to put yourself first, maintain your individuality, and maintain your well-being.