Many of us struggle with having unhealthy personal boundaries. These unhealthy boundaries tend to make us co-dependent on others for our feelings of self worth.
Unhealthy Personal Boundaries Make for Unhealthy Marriages
Being co-dependent can be hard on a marriage if either or both spouses do not have a healthy sense of self or a healthy respect for self.
Strong marriages are made up of two healthy individuals with healthy personal boundaries.
Unhealthy boundaries often show up in being a “people pleaser.”When our personal boundaries aren’t really clear or strong, we tend to believe if we can just make others happy then we will be happy.
We are always trying to “fix” things for others in an impossible effort to make everyone else happy. We give and give, while others seem all-to-happy to take and take.
We avoid confrontation like the plague, and don’t want to tell anyone “no” or hurt anyone’s feelings–even if it means completely ignoring or disrespecting our own wants and needs.
These three questions can give you an quick start to recognizing and beginning to change the ways you interact with others.
Three Key Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do you consider yourself to be a people pleaser?
- Do you have trouble saying “no” to people?
- Do you sometimes say “yes” to people, and then later resent having to do it?
Since unhealthy boundaries are such a common challenge, I’ve compiled a list of the characteristics that can help us recognize the ways we may be unwisely dishonoring and disrespecting ourselves.
Review the following list by noting each item on a scale of 1 (doesn’t apply to me) – 10 (applies to me). Also note your top 5 items to see where you may need to provide some extra reinforcement.
Signs of Unhealthy Personal Boundaries
- I let others direct my life.
- I let others define me.
- I feel as if my happiness depends on other people.
- It’s hard for me to look a person in the eye.
- I have difficulty saying “no” to people.
- I find myself getting involved with people who end up hurting me.
- I trust others without reason.
- I would rather attend to others than attend to myself.
- I think other’s opinions are more important than mine.
- People take or use my things without asking me.
- I have difficulty asking for what I want or need.
- I lend people money and don’t seem to get it back.
- I’d rather go along with others than to express what I’d prefer to do.
- I tend to stay in relationships that are hurting me.
- I feel empty, as if something is missing in my life.
- I tend to get caught “in the middle” of other people’s problems.
- When someone I’m with acts up in public, I tend to feel embarrassed.
- I prefer to rely on what others say about what I should believe or do.
- I tend to take on or feel what others are feeling.
- I seem to put more into relationships than I get out of them.
- I feel responsible for other people’s feelings.
- I easily tell all.
- I talk at an intimate level in a first meeting.
- I easily fall in love with a new acquaintance.
- I easily fall in love with someone who reaches out to me.
- I am easily overwhelmed by a person/ easily preoccupied.
- I go against personal values or rights to please others.
- I accept food, gifts, touch, or sex that I don’t want.
- I don’t notice when someone else displays inappropriate boundaries.
- I don’t notice when someone invades my boundaries.
- I touch people without asking.
- I allow others to touch me without asking.
- I take as much as I can get for the sake of getting.
- I give as much as I can give for the sake of giving.
- I allow others to take as much as they want from me.
- I believe others can or should anticipate my needs.
- I expect others to fill my needs automatically.
- I fall apart so someone will take care of me.
- I abuse food or other substances.
- I can’t make up my mind.
Keys to Developing Healthy Boundaries
- Learn ways to say “no” to others’ requests especially when you check in with yourself and realize that you may not be able to fulfill the request without feeling resentful.
- Learn to stand up for yourself. This means kindly but firmly letting people know what you want and need and/or what you can and can’t do.