What Does It Look Like When Someone Violates Your Boundaries?

Abbey Williams

When people impose on another person’s boundaries, it is known as a boundary violation. This can happen with one’s physical, mental, emotional, material, sexual, and time boundaries. To further understand these six types of boundaries you can refer to my previous boundary article here. This may present in an action such as showing up without warning, denying one’s recount of an experience, or maybe showing up late. Regardless of which boundary is the topic of concern with the individual in your life, your boundaries are valid and deserve to be respected.


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So, what are some examples of how one can violate another person’s boundaries?

1. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. Victims of gaslighting may often hear, “that’s not what happened,” “you are twisting things,” or “you don’t know what you are talking about.”

In Psychology Today, it is outlined that individuals who use gaslighting as a way to control situations may present by telling blatant lies, denying they ever said something (even if there is proof), using what is near and dear to you as ammunition, wearing you down over time, actions do not match their words, throwing in positive reinforcement to confuse you, know confusion weakens people, project, trying to align people against you, telling you or others that you are crazy, and telling you everyone else is a liar.

Someone may use gaslighting as a way to violate your boundaries by making you feel like your boundaries are not valid or acceptable. You deserve to have your reality, your experiences, your feelings, and boundaries validated.

2. Snooping

Snooping is the act of going through another person’s things without their permission. This can be done with their possession, a journal, their phone, their emails, etc. In healthy adult relationships we are expected to respect our partner’s boundaries and their privacy.

In an article from Bustle.com, it is advised that should one catch their partner snooping on them this boundary violation should be addressed in a serious manner. Addressing the problem head on, having an open dialogue, and getting curious about what caused the violation, was is insecurity or a need for control, is important in resolving this behavior and establishing a firm boundary. There is also a conversation that could be beneficial around privacy versus secrecy. You are entitled to your privacy.

3. Showing up unannounced

Showing up unannounced is a violation of one’s time, physical, and mental boundaries. The disregard for one’s time is rude and should be addressed. This could be an issue for you with family members, friends, or neighbors. This is also a hard boundary violation to navigate at times because it can also feel rude to turn people away or not be welcoming when you greet these unexpected visitors at your door.

So, how can you set this boundary without feeling like a jerk?

“I so appreciate you wanting to stop by and see us, I’m going to have to ask that you call next time so I can make sure we are here or that we can accommodate your visit.”

4. Guilt-tripping

According to Healthline.com, “guilt can be a powerful weapon, and many people know how to wield it skillfully.” Guilt-tripping is a for of communication with utilizes guilt as a means to control or manipulate another person. This might happen when someone makes you feel guilty for something that you did or did not do.

Guilt-tripping leads to a boundary violation in that one feels guilty for having a boundary or not fulfilling the other person’s wants and therefore may lead the person to do something that goes against their comfort or values.

5. Making decisions for others

Making decisions for others can go against every type of boundary. One could make a decision that they are going to hug another person whether they want to be hugged or not which could violate their physical or sexual boundaries. One may make a decision about what time they are making a dinner reservation without asking for the other person’s availability which could violate their time boundary. One could make a decision that they are going to borrow their sibling’s car without asking which could violate their material boundary.

It is a sign of respect and honoring other’s boundaries to value their input in making decision rather than making decisions for others.

6. Sharing other people’s secrets

Sharing other people’s secrets can happen in unhealthy family dynamics as well as with friends. When a person confides in another person with their personal information there is a level of trust and an expectation that the boundary of their privacy is to be upheld. Violating this boundary leads to a lack of trust, emotional intimacy, and feelings of hurt.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

7. Using another person’s possessions without asking

Using another person’s possession without asking goes back to the example above where the material boundary is violated. Maybe you borrow another person’s car without asking or maybe you borrow a sweater without asking. The boundary is violated when this happens because it shows a level of disregard for another person’s things. Individuals who feel violated in this way may present with feelings of resentment and feelings of disrespect.

8. Bringing up topics another person is uncomfortable talking about

It is important to honor another person’s emotional and mental boundaries. When we honor other’s emotional and mental boundaries we are contributing to their well-being and overall health.

However, when one’s boundaries in these categories are violated the effects are often more difficult to deal with. This can happen when an individual brings up topics the other person is uncomfortable talking about. This is harmful to the person who is unable or unwilling to discuss these topics.

It is important to honor other’s boundaries. Whether it is a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or a person you are passing in the grocery store there is a level of respect and care that we must uphold in not violating other’s boundaries. Boundaries are intended to keep others safe both physically and mentally. You are worthy of appropriate boundaries and so are the people around you.

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Abbey Williams is the producer and host of the Mimosas with Moms Podcast, content creator of the social media platforms @mimosaswithmoms, and mother of 4. She is committed to supporting, empowering, and connecting with mothers in all seasons of motherhood. She navigates her blended family/coparenting life with her husband, four kids, and two sister labs.


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