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Wellness

What To Do When People Push Your Boundaries

4 Mins read

When you set boundaries with others, you are communicating what you are and are not comfortable with. Everybody has their limits. Setting healthy boundaries with others helps them understand how to respect your time, your space, your body, your feelings, and your expectations. 

When the people in your life respect your boundaries, you’ll feel safer and more comfortable. You’ll end up becoming closer to and more open with these people. This is a must in any relationship whether that’s a romantic relationship, work relationship, a friendship, or a relationship with a family member.

The first step is always to clearly communicate your boundaries, and make sure the other person understands. It’s then expected that they will respect the boundaries you’ve established, just like you’ll respect theirs. 

Many people try to push boundaries, or disrespect boundaries. If, after clearly communicating your boundary to that person more than once, they’re still pushing your boundaries, you may need to re-evaluate that relationship. 

In toxic relationships, it’s very common for one or both parties to be constantly pushing the other person’s boundaries. In healthy relationships, boundaries are communicated, established, and respected.

Not everyone will respect your boundaries when you set them. In fact, many people will try to push your boundaries, and that’s why it’s important to notice who is and is not respecting your boundaries. You deserve to have people in your life who respect your boundaries.

There is a completely different version of yourself that will come out when your boundaries are being pushed. The best version of yourself is most likely to come out when your boundaries are being respected.

Even if it’s a somewhat uncomfortable conversation, you need to firmly set your boundaries by communicating them to others. But what are some common types of boundaries people have, and what should you do when your boundaries are pushed?

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Different Types of Important Boundaries

Healthy boundaries are important to set and stick to, without letting people push them. Some examples of different types of important boundaries you might have include:

  • Physical boundaries (for example, no physical intimacy on the first date, or no physical contact when you’re trying to focus on work)
  • Emotional boundaries (for example, asking to avoid an emotional topic or trauma trigger)
  • Material boundaries (for example, you do not loan out your car, and you do not loan friends money)
  • Time boundaries (for example, firmly stating that you can only stay for one hour, or telling a guest that it’s your bedtime.)

These are only some of many examples of boundaries. Each individual will have their own boundaries that they deem important enough to firmly communicate. Everyone will have different boundaries.

Some people might be very easy going when it comes to loaning out their car, but very rigid when it comes to time, such as not wanting visitors past 10pm. Other people might have the exact opposite boundaries, being easy going with their time, but rigid when it comes to material boundaries.

Since everyone has such different boundaries, it’s important for people in relationships to communicate their boundaries to each other, and not push each other’s boundaries.

Even if you don’t agree with someone’s boundaries because yours are different, you should still respect their boundaries. If you can’t, you may not be compatible as friends or partners.

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What to Do When Someone Pushes Your Boundaries

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to make your boundaries clear, there will be people in your life who fail to respect your limits. 

If someone pushes your boundaries, you can try the following:

  • Communicate your boundary again, using specific examples: If you’re not used to setting boundaries, you may not make your requests entirely clear when you first communicate them. For instance, saying, “I need some space” doesn’t provide your loved one with a lot of information. However, saying, “I need the next hour without any disturbances, not even a text message,” is much clearer. If you feel that you have clearly communicated your boundary, but it’s being pushed, provide that person with specific examples of times they pushed your boundary, and ask them if they realized they were crossing a boundary at that time. This helps them become more aware of any boundary-pushing actions.
  • Set clear consequences: If you firmly set boundaries and people choose to cross them, you can also let them know you’re going to respond in a certain way. For example, if you tell your work colleague you don’t want to discuss personal issues they have with your boss, and they keep bringing them up, you can let them know you will take the issue to HR if necessary.
  • Limit your engagement with that person: Stepping back from a relationship with someone who might be testing your boundaries is another way to demonstrate that you won’t tolerate disrespect. Choosing to spend less time with someone after they’ve pushed your boundaries might help show them they need to change their ways to keep you in their life.
  • Be consistent, and don’t stray from your boundaries: Don’t change your mind about your boundaries just because you feel pressured by someone else who doesn’t agree with them. If you start saying “Yes” to the things you’ve outlined your discomfort with, this will send mixed messages about your boundaries. Your friends or connections might assume your boundaries are much looser than you’ve suggested in the past, because you’re not committing fully to them. 

The key is to not let someone push your boundaries, because if they were testing your boundaries, consistently letting them succeed in pushing your boundaries shows them that they can.

Healthy Boundaries are There to Help You

While setting boundaries might sometimes feel as though you’re pushing people away, keeping people at arm’s length, or building walls around yourself, the reality is your boundaries are there to protect you. Setting strong and firm boundaries protects you from potentially harmful situations, and allows you to convey your needs to the people you care about.

If people consistently push or cross your boundaries regardless of what you do or say, you can make the decision to detach from the relationship and keep that person out of your life. Ultimately, you’re in control of how you allow people to treat you, and you’re allowed to cut people out of your life if they seem incapable of respecting your boundaries.

If you’re curious if you have health conditions that might require you set certain boundaries, such as the mental health condition of ADHD, consider taking a CircleDNA test to get genetic health reports and DNA insights about your physical and mental health.

Erica Gordon
132 posts

About author
Erica Gordon is the Managing Editor and Director of Content at Circle Magazine. Erica majored in Psychology at UBC and has since founded The Babe Report and followed her passion for writing and journalism, with a focus on health and travel writing.
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