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Boundaries are thought of as a limit to comfortable contact

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RichardMiller's picture
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Joined: 09/20/2009

I will attempt to speak of boundaries without much esoteric or hidden reasoning. If that is objected to, then I will take on the esoteric considerations later.  First I will speak to the following:

a.  Radical boundary issues come from perceived exploitation.
b.  But even family and friends generally “want something from us”.
c.  Would it be possible to be clear and put these wants out on the table?
d.  Maybe I have made the trade off of intimacy for security.
e.  What are the keys to keep the door of close contact open?

I think that you can have a boundary with people and with a circumstance too. If there is just too much noise and commotion, people get uncomfortable. Some people are sensitive to noises and lights and agitatedly seek a calmer atmosphere.

I have read where autistic people hurt themselves until the physical pain is louder than the buzzing or droning in their head. They just can’t take that sensation anymore. I also just talked with a very normal, even successful man who reported that when a child, he found himself cutting is arm and stabbing himself for a relief from internal and external noises.

1. But let’s just consider the boundaries between people. Something is uncomfortable about the other. The most uncomfortable is the idea that I might be subject to exploitation. That person wants something from me. Maybe they are an authority figure and can put me into a difficult situation. Maybe they are much more persuasive than me, and I am unable to hold my ground against them. Something about our two persona's is very unequal. I feel overpowered.

If I feel at risk, it is mostly a fear response. Evasive action just takes place by itself. I get out of harms way if I can, and don’t go there anymore. I am cold or ignoring to that person. I might be dismissive or impolite. I might try to get into a public place, so that they don’t try anything without there being witnesses.

I keep all my contact information secret and don’t disclose my home location. If I believe that this is a potential risk all over the city, I move often. I start living the life of a “secret agent”.

It must be hard to make friends. Or where do I meet people that are more balanced to my level of laid-backness? Who don’t I feel challenged by? I dislike aggressive people. I hate and fear shouting and bullying.

2. That may be radical, but many people also want something from us without the threat of the unknown. Our parents and our teachers are often trying to convince us to live in the way that they want for us. We develop strategies not to hear too much ranting, while still doing only what we wish. With parents we have to ride a line to keep the money flowing. They are supporting us early on.

These are boundaries, that after a time might be more consciously constructed. A mother might still berate her daughter well into her 30’s and 40’s. There gets to be an extremely short fuse on this same line of relating. Blow-up is there before you know what hit.

3. So a key to the need for boundaries seems to be that somebody wants (needs) something from me. It is their expectation about me. Some are agreed upon expectations, me fulfilling my promises. Some, which are more uncomfortable, are assumed expectations. Maybe I have the opinion that they are unjustly assumed. I take it for a while, especially if I think that I am getting something in return. But the discontent builds, until the trigger is on such a hair it is firing off every day, with no promise of ever improving. All parties know that this is damaging.

4. What do I need from you? Wouldn’t it be great to set that out really clearly. Let it be a short term, renewable contract. During the renewal period we can renegotiate it. Time could mean one year, two years, five years, whatever our circumstances might point to. Is that risky, to open up this can of worms?

In the mean time, life under such clarity should have way less boundaries, enforced daily drama and separation. If love can flow through closeness, wouldn’t it have more chance to develop to its fullest? With boundaries between intimates, aren’t we playing a waiting game too much of the time? Waiting for love.

What is the filter that is between us. Let’s say for example that it is skepticism and doubt. I define myself as burnt too many times to trust that your motives are pure. If you are saying sweet things, you must want something. Then our whole relating devolves onto the game board of mistrust. Neither of us can give our complete gift on that game board. All we can do is trade a few little tokens. It becomes so petty, that it is really senseless to move forward with it. All richness of relationship has been killed. All that is left is living life for a few conveniences.

5. Maybe what I really want are just long term promises. I want old age security. I want that more than love or closeness. So I don’t care how bad we are together. Buy me a house and keep it maintained. Listen to my complaints of victimization and agree that the world is unjust to me. Convince me you understand that, and I am right to think that way. We can run a tally of all the things in the world that are no good. (Even this chocolate ice-cream, they don’t make it like they used to.) Oh boy, that’s a bleak picture. A little humor that I hope does not hit home.

6. Maybe a long term relationship cannot have the same freedom as “two ships passing in the night”. Expectations are always there to be contended with. Some boundaries are inevitable from that. Can boundaries go up and down, or are they always going up and up. What is the renewal needed to have a fresh look at our allowed closeness?

I would say that expectations and what we agree about them can be a great place to start. When something about a relationship is out of balance (it’s always that way) one is willing to forgive and forget more than the other. Each move in the game is a power move, also to gain some advantage, (at least not to loose my position). The self perceived weakest, bargains the hardest.

Pick a mate that is your equal, or has compensating strengths for every weakness. Work on weaknesses together. Most of the times a “weakness” is just a refusal. Work with yourself to see if you can stop refusing. (Like I am not technical, I am baffled by anything about a computer. And I refuse to learn it). Well that same type of syndrome is scattered all throughout our lives.

7. Where do we make each other wrong? Can we stop it?

There is a verbal doorway between any two people. It is not about what you say to each other. It is your self talk when considering that other person. Our boundaries are generated out of the tightness of that self talk. The tighter it is, the more closed the door, and the higher the boundaries. Keep your verbal doorways open and always opening more. It is just respecting another person by what you tell yourself about them.

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