June 20, 2021

The source of psychological pain in interpersonal relationships: lack of a sense of boundaries

All relationships have boundaries, including love, love between parents and children, love between husband and wife, and friends, all of which need boundaries. If the boundaries are not clear, it is easy to fall into tangled pain.

01 What is the boundary?

The boundaries are divided into outer boundaries and inner boundaries.

The outer limits are:

Body boundary: It is about personal space, including privacy and body.



Material boundaries: determine whether you are willing to give or lend money, cars, clothes, books, food, etc.

The inner boundaries are:

Psychological boundaries: related to your thoughts, values ​​and beliefs.

Emotional boundary: This is like a virtual line or force field that separates you from others. Healthy emotional boundaries can restrict you from making suggestions to others, blaming others, or accepting complaints. You will not feel guilty because of other people’s negative emotions and problems, and you will not care too much about what others say. If you are very sensitive, the emotional boundaries are weak. Healthy emotional boundaries need clear inner boundaries-know how you feel, know your responsibilities to yourself and others.



02 Several manifestations of unclear boundaries

1. Rescue

Salvation is the most typical manifestation of unclear human boundaries:



Treat other people’s affairs as your own; overzealous, over-involved; over-interference, over-protection; self-pretend to be a savior or savior; have a strong guardian and master spirit; take helping others as your own responsibility and obligation.

Parents often treat babies like this, because babies do not have the ability to take care of themselves and really need parents’ care and protection. But after the child grows up, if the parents still treat the child like this, it will be very detrimental to the child’s growth. But many parents have not changed this behavior pattern as their children grow up. They continue to care about the child in every possible way, do everything for him, and intervene in his study, work, life, making friends, dating, and marriage.

Similarly, there are many children who start to play the role of “saving” their parents when they grow up, hoping that parents live according to their children’s wishes.

Salvation is not only unclear interpersonal boundaries, but also a performance of compulsion.

In the eyes of the rescuer, others are flawed. If they do not save, they will fall, fail, suffer, and pervert. The savior divides the world into black and white, and his sacred mission is to turn black into white.

2. Control

Control is the most common problem in Chinese family relationships. In Chinese family relations, the common states are: control, dependence, and please.

Control: It is to treat others as a part or tool of one’s own body, use others like one’s own hands and feet, and hope to use them easily. They have no “person” in their eyes, treat others as objects, do not pay attention to other people’s inner feelings, and even deliberately suppress others’ inner feelings.



If a tool has the ability to think independently, the user cannot completely control it. Therefore, the controller always does everything possible to deny the other’s ability, hit the other’s autonomy, make him lose himself and obey the control obediently.

There are three types of control: hard control, soft control and invisible control.

Hard control: criticize, educate, order, punish, accuse, humiliate, track, investigate, and restrict personal freedom.

Soft control: to please, lure, act coquettish, mischievous, scheming, threatening.

Invisible control: credit, promise, protection, gift, lead by example, prestige, self-confidence, bravery.

There are some similarities between invisible control and salvation, which shows that salvation can be transformed into control. However, the purpose of salvation is to let the other party live well, and the result is another matter. The purpose of control is to “use me”. Salvation is altruistic, and control is self-interested.

Anti-social personality disorder likes to control others, using others as their own body or tools. The common method is hard control.

Performance personality disorder also likes to control others, and the commonly used method is soft control.

Borderline personality disorder is often both soft and hard.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a combination of hard control and invisible control.

3. Dependence

Dependence is the opposite of salvation. One is the savior, and the other is the dependent. Salvation will strengthen dependence, and similarly, dependence will stimulate the other’s salvation complex.

In a sense, dependence is soft control. He uses dependence to control the other party, making the other party willingly and smugly as the savior.

Beside the saving mother, there will be dependent children.

Salvation is to treat other people’s affairs as one’s own, and dependence is to push one’s own affairs to others and let others do it for oneself. Control is also to let others do things for themselves, but the consequences are still borne by oneself, and dependence also gives others the responsibility and requires others to be responsible for themselves.

Therefore, a dependent child stretches out his hands with clothes and opens his mouth with food, and blames his parents for not wearing warm clothes or eating enough, and even deliberately not reaching out or opening his mouth, telling himself not to wear warm clothes and not eating enough, which makes parents feel distressed and motivates parents. Of compassion.

Dependent people depend on their parents or elder brothers and sisters when they are young, and depend on their spouse after they get married, or they continue to depend on their parents or even the other’s parents.

4. Please

Favoring is mainly manifested in the desire to be recognized, praised and respected by others. For this reason, try to figure out other people’s minds, understand other people’s interests, cater to other people’s psychology, and do something that can make the other person happy.

To please others and cater to others is actually a betrayal of oneself, which is an important reason for the formation of “false self”.

In order to get the care of their parents and let themselves be loved and praised, children naturally cater to their parents and please them. However, with the increase of age and the improvement of survivability, there is no need to continue to please others.

To please is a manifestation of unclear interpersonal boundaries. A person who is accustomed to flattering must be a person who has suppressed his true self for a long time, and is internally divided and painful. The recognition and respect that is exchanged for flattery and grievances is only an illusion and anesthesia, and cannot bring real happiness and happiness to people.

5. Excessive sensitivity

Particularly caring about other people’s views of oneself, it is easy to be affected by other people’s emotions, opinions, and behaviors. This is over-sensitive.

Sensitive people are prone to empathy, or empathy. The emotions of the two sides are the same. What is the emotion of the other side, what is the emotion of me: people are happy and happy, and people are sad and sad.

Some people are very susceptible to other people’s infections, and they cry very much when watching soap operas. This kind of person has a soft heart and soft ears, so it is easy to be influenced by others, easy to be suggested and hypnotized.

Sensitivity has two sides.A sensitive person is easy to understand others, empathize and empathize, and is full of perceptual characteristics.On the other hand, sensitive people are often affected by others and are often involved in other people’s emotions and events. In the middle, treat other people’s affairs as their own, and other people’s emotions as their own.

Sensitive people need to protect themselves, cultivate rational judgment, and realize that they should not be overly involved in other people’s emotions and events.

6. Separation anxiety

When a person is in a state of symbiosis with others, separation is a terrible thing, so I am very afraid of separation, and separation will cause great mental pain.

Conversely, if a person is extremely afraid of separation, it means that his personal boundaries are unclear.

In order to avoid separation, the parties will take measures such as hard control or soft control, courting or reliance. The purpose is to continue to maintain a state of symbiosis. This kind of person is very sticky, very entangled, and like a stalker, they have to be accompanied by others to eat and sleep, and they will keep calling and sending messages after a while.

Both dependent and borderline personality disorders have strong separation anxiety. They are afraid of separation, and will react strongly to imaginary separation, often asking the other party to ensure that they will not abandon him.

7, invasion of privacy

Friends should share, don’t share, don’t talk about your feelings, don’t reveal your thoughts, you can’t count as friends.

However, if it is a general relationship, it is not appropriate to spy on the privacy of others. Some people like to spy on other people’s privacy, which is a manifestation of unclear human boundaries.

Similarly, sharing secrets, talking about your feelings, and exposing your thoughts with people in ordinary relationships are also manifestations of unclear interpersonal boundaries.

Process interpretation, privacy prying, and overexposure are all privacy violations. It breaks the interpersonal line, breaks into the private domain of others, and violates the psychological space of others.

8. Loyalty and suspicion

To be loyal to someone is to treat yourself as a part of the other person, give yourself to the other person, and even give your life to the other person.

When the interpersonal line is unclear, the other party will be required to be loyal to oneself. This situation is very common among friends and lovers. To require the other party to be loyal to oneself is to treat the other party as a part of oneself and completely possess the other party.

If the other party is not loyal, it is my loss and betrayal to me. Therefore, I am very worried about the disloyalty of the other party, and try to test the loyalty of the other party. Seriously, it shows suspicion.

Suspicion is disbelief and doubt. Suspicion can easily turn into snooping and invasion of privacy. Emphasizing the need for loyalty and showing loyalty to others are both manifestations of losing oneself.

The best state is that there is no need to emphasize and control, but they are in harmony with each other. Connect with positive and healthy emotional bonds, need each other, accompany each other without interference, people with unclear interpersonal boundaries often think that they know you better than you.

When you have a certain idea, a certain emotional change, or want to do something, he will tell you that your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are wrong and should not be this way, it should be that way.

He projects his feelings and experiences onto you, thinking that you are the same person as him. Finding that you are actually different from him, he thinks you are wrong. At the same time, he cares about you very much and hopes that you will not make mistakes, so he will correct you.

This is a double ambiguity. First, he thinks everyone’s mental activities are the same; second, he is responsible to you, and he wants to save you.

Such correction is actually very harmful. People with unclear interpersonal boundaries and high suggestiveness will accept corrections from others and suppress their true thoughts, feelings and intentions.

The more a person’s relationship is blurred, the harder it is to become himself. When you cannot become yourself, you will constantly allow and condone others to trample on your own boundaries, and unintentionally cross and trample on others’ boundaries. This is a vicious circle, and it happens every day in our lives.



03 How to establish clear boundaries?

Some people have difficulty setting boundaries for the following reasons:

They put the needs and feelings of others first

They don’t understand themselves

They think they have no right

They think that setting boundaries will destroy emotional relationships

They never learn how to set healthy boundaries

The establishment of boundaries is a process of gradual learning. If your boundaries were not taken seriously enough in childhood, then you would not know that you have boundaries. Any form of abuse, including teasing, will break personal boundaries. The destruction of boundaries often has a great impact on children, and even prevents them from growing into independent and responsible adults.

First of all, please remember that you have the right.

If you are not respected when you grow up, then you think you have no rights.

For example, you should have the right to privacy, the right to refuse, to be respected, to change your mind, to cancel your commitment, to let your subordinates work as required, to ask for help, to be alone, to save energy, not to answer questions, not to answer calls, not to reply to emails, etc. Think about the situations in which these rights apply, and write down how you feel.

In which situations do you often say “no” in your heart, but still verbally agree? What do you want to happen? Write it down and make a list of your rights. What prevents you from insisting on these rights? Write your bottom line. Of course, be polite when fighting for rights. For example, “Please don’t accuse me”, or “Thank you very much for thinking of me, but unfortunately I can’t participate”.

If you are responsible for your emotions and behavior, you should not blame others either. When you are complained, if you think it is not your responsibility, you can say “I am not responsible for this matter” without an excuse or apology.

Second, be aware of emotional signals.

Anger is usually a signal to take action. If you feel resentful, wronged, or start to blame others, it may mean that you are not setting boundaries. If you feel anxious or guilty about setting boundaries, then you will be unhappy and your relationship will suffer.

Once you start to practice setting boundaries, you will feel stronger, and anxiety, resentment, and guilt will begin to decrease. Generally speaking, you will be more respected and your relationship will improve accordingly.

Setting effective boundaries requires time and repeated learning

People often say that they set boundaries, but they don’t work. In fact, this is also an art.

If you set boundaries by getting angry or criticizing others, this will not be recognized by others. The purpose of setting boundaries is not to punish others, but to make oneself happy and protected. Therefore, the effectiveness of the boundaries depends entirely on whether you are confident, calm, firm and polite.

If this doesn’t work, you can tell the other party the consequences of offending the boundary and prompt them to accept it. However, if you are not fully prepared, do not threaten the other person.

Setting effective boundaries requires a lot of time, support from others, and repeated learning.

Having self-awareness and firm confidence is the first step. Setting boundaries is not selfish. On the contrary, it is self-love and self-esteem. Every time you say “No” to others, you always say “Yes” to yourself.