Boundary Styles: Where do You Sit on the Spectrum?

By: Sabrina Peters

Boundaries are the silent architects of our relationships.

Understanding how to establish, communicate, and develop healthy boundaries is a crucial step in nurturing fulfilling relationships. But the first step often involves discovering where we are, before moving to where we want to go. So, lets explore together.

There are three main types of boundaries—porous, rigid, and healthy. Read through their descriptions below and see which one you naturally gravitate towards. Don’t be afraid to be brutally honest. It’s the only way to personal growth.

1 – Porous Boundaries

  • Overly trusting of others, even strangers: Individuals with porous boundaries tend to give people the benefit of the doubt without assessing their trustworthiness. They may share personal information without reservation, which can leave them vulnerable to manipulation or exploitation.
  • Has difficulty saying “no” to others: People with porous boundaries often find it challenging to assert themselves and set limits. They may agree to things they’re not comfortable with or take on more responsibilities than they can handle.
  • Quick to adopt others’ opinions: They are easily influenced by the views and ideas of those around them. Their lack of a strong personal stance may lead to difficulty making independent decisions.
  • Does not assert personal values: Porous boundaries may result in individuals compromising their own values and beliefs to conform to others’ expectations, potentially eroding their sense of self.

2 – Rigid Boundaries

  • Very untrusting of others: Those with rigid boundaries have a tendency to be overly cautious and skeptical of others’ intentions, which can make it difficult to form meaningful connections and relationships.
  • Very guarded with personal information: They are extremely private and share little about themselves, even with close friends and family. This can create a sense of emotional distance and isolation.
  • Says “no” to others most of the time: People with rigid boundaries often have a rigid “no” response to requests or invitations, which can make them seem distant and unapproachable.
  • Detached from others’ problems: They may avoid involving themselves in the difficulties or emotions of others, which can come across as cold or uncaring.
  • Tends to ignore others’ opinions: Rigid boundary individuals are unlikely to consider or respect the perspectives and input of others, leading to potential conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Avoids conflict by pushing others away: They may use conflict avoidance as a coping mechanism, effectively shutting people out instead of addressing issues directly.
  • Has inflexible personal values: Personal values for those with rigid boundaries are typically unyielding, making it difficult to adapt to changing circumstances or compromise when necessary.

Now that we have discussed the concepts of porous and rigid boundaries, let’s delve into the idea of cultivating and maintaining healthy boundaries!

3 – Healthy Boundaries

  • Selective about whom to let in and keep out: They strike a balance between openness and caution, assessing the trustworthiness and compatibility of others.
  • Takes time to build trust with others: Trust is not freely given but earned through consistent behavior and reliability.
  • Shares personal information appropriately: They strike a balance between openness and privacy, sharing appropriately with the situation and the level of trust.
  • Able to say “no” when needed: They are assertive in setting boundaries and can decline requests or invitations when necessary.
  • Supports others without being too involved: They strike a balance between providing assistance and maintaining their own autonomy.
  • Values both own and others’ opinions: They consider different perspectives and are willing to engage in healthy, constructive discussions.
  • Accepts conflict as a normal part of life: They view conflict as an opportunity for growth and understanding rather than something to be avoided at all costs.
  • Stands by personal values but can adapt: While they have strong personal values, they are open to adjusting them when circumstances require flexibility.
  • Communicates assertively: They effectively express their thoughts and feelings while respecting the rights and boundaries of others.

By striking a balance between openness and caution, we can protect our wellbeing, maintain our individuality, and engage with others in a way that promotes mutual respect and understanding.

Boundaries become our allies, not barriers, and in their embrace, we find the freedom to build the enriching connections we all desire.

About the Author: Sabrina is a writer, pastor and relationships blogger. She is passionate about Jesus and changing the way people think about God, relationships and sex.

Article supplied with thanks to Sabrina Peters.

Feature image: Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash