Setting boundaries creates mutual respect and consideration (2/12)

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These qualities allow people to be close without emotional harm. Boundaries are breached by such actions as: Reading personal mail or rummaging in personal space or demanding time, affection or consideration without considering the other person’s wishes or feelings. Showing up unannounced is another classic breach of boundaries.

Expecting someone to always pay for things. Talking behind backs, changing appointments because something more fun came up. Boundaries can be set with grace and gentility. Be polite, and say please and thank you You probably will lose your boyfriend if you make big, obnoxious announcements about how you want to be treated. Instead, set an example by speaking up at the moment — saying no, thank you or I’m sorry, I don’t really like that when you need to. Anyone can be subjected to rudeness and inconsideration.

How you handle it determines whether you are setting boundaries or not. Most situations can be handled with polite firmness. People pleasers usually just don’t know how to say no, thank you and make it stick. If you say no, thank you several times, then, gently tell the person you don’t like what they’re doing, that it makes you uncomfortable, and they still don’t get it, then you need to sit them down and tell them you will not allow them to do that to you.

For example, if a boyfriend borrows money or lets you pay for food all the time, you can say, gently, I think it’s your turn to buy groceries today or I really need you to pay back the money you borrowed If that doesn’t work, then have a talk — say, I think you’re taking advantage of me financially, and I can’t be your girlfriend if the situation doesn’t improve.

So, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to lunch with you any more unless you buy, and/or I’m not lending you any money. If that doesn’t improve matters, then you’ll need to give that person a time out — withdraw from personal contact, and just be very polite when you do happen to see him or her. He or she will get the message loud and clear. Perhaps your boyfriend will ask Are you mad at me? and then you can describe what the problem is.

Contributors: Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today

Written by Ben Skute

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