I mention the importance of boundaries constantly.
Whether it’s pertaining to my personal or my professional life, I hone in on them because for the first part of my life I didn’t even know what a boundary was.
For several decades I allowed my friends, family, and significant others to walk all over me. My inability to say no landed me in tumultuous situations and resulted in my being taken advantage of both emotionally and physically.
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I was able to learn and start enforcing strong boundaries. I wish that someone had told me sooner about the consequences of not having boundaries.
Through personal experiences, I learned the way something would happen, time and time again, if I didn’t start cultivating boundaries.
#1. You will overshare personal information
Sharing intimate details when getting to know someone new can forge a strong connection when it’s done with the right people.
When it’s done with the wrong people, it does the complete opposite. It gives them leverage to hurt you because they know your life story. They know all of the buttons that they can press and will often store that information in their memory to use against you later.
This is extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. For example, I used to make this mistake and ended up in an extremely manipulative relationship with someone who used my personal information against me.
These days, I get to know someone very well before I disclose the more private details about my life.
#2. You will give without receiving
Katie (my friend) is very kind and thoughtful. She began hanging out with Dani who is fun and outgoing, but that’s pretty much all that she has going for her. In other words, she seems to be extremely toxic.
Now although Katie was constantly reaching out, Dani continually blew her off except when the invitation involved a group of their mutual friends. Katie would cook for everyone, provide drinks and games, and Dani never thanked her. She never brought over anything to contribute and although Katie grew more and more frustrated, she seemed to think that eventually, Dani would change.
Dani didn’t change, and when Katie finally tried to bring it up she was met with the silent treatment.
The reality is that a relationship should be a balance of giving and take. When it’s all “give” someone is going to end up getting hurt and it’s usually the giver.
#3. You will take on someone else’s happiness as if it’s your own responsibility
When I was younger I was in a relationship with someone I cared about very much.
I did everything I could to make him happy. Yet the more I tried the more miserable he seemed to become until eventually our relationship crashed and burned.
Then… something strange happened. I ran into him years later via a group of mutual friends. He looked absolutely amazing. He was the fittest he had ever been, he had a great job and seemed to almost be a completely different person.
All of that came from his own desire to change. It was something I couldn’t force, it had to come from within himself.
#4. People will take advantage of you
Last night I was talking to a friend that said she continually allows people to take advantage of her. She said that she is aware of when it’s happening but she simply doesn’t stop it even though she can recognize it. Although it hurts her feelings she hasn’t learned to say “no” and manipulative people are able to figure it out quickly.
As much as it hurts me to say it, the reality is that until she cultivates strong boundaries, she will continue to be taken advantage of and possibly by extremely manipulative people.
The reality is that boundaries protect you because you refuse to accept behaviors that are disrespectful and it shows the people in your life that you have self-worth.
Not having boundaries is going to set you up to be manipulated, and ultimately you will be unhappy because you aren’t putting your needs in front of everyone else’s.