What Are Relationship Boundaries?


We all know what geographical boundaries are...but what are relationship boundaries?

If a football field is measured in yards...and a farm is measured in acres...what do these objective measurements have in common with interpersonal relations?

Well...what they have in common is that...they have objectively defined...knowable limits.

Relationship boundaries are essentially the definitions of some context. Boundary violations happen when people behave in ways not acceptable in that context.

Everyday language acknowledges these boundaries when someone says...
  • "You've crossed the line"...
  • "Now you've gone too far"...
  • "Don't talk to me in that tone, I'm your mother..."

So boundaries have to be defined. And we use an Aristotle quote as the mandate for defining things...which is still used today in science...philosophy...and now in ministry.

In geography there are limits on the extent of some property that carves it out and differentiates it from its neighbors...like the physical limits of Arkansas separate it from the states around it.

Then how do we know the boundary limits in relationships? So...


Boundaries are...


rules for behavior...

that specify what must be done...

and what must not be done...

in different kinds of relationships


And while we're at it...everyone 'knows' what a relationship is...but often they can't define it without using the word itself...and that's against the rules. So...in order to communicate about boundaries in relationships...



Relationships are...


social connections...

between two or more people.


And these connections are either…

voluntary as they are in relationships...
  • ...between lovers
  • ...between friends
  • ...between employer and employee
  • ...between people in a contract or covenant.

Or relationships are...



involuntary...as those between...
  • ...the forced association of family members
  • ...the forced association of people in a workplace or other organization hierarchies
  • ...the forced association of people jailed for crimes



Now we can put the two words...relationship boundaries...together and know what we mean so we can communicate about them.

With a useful...easily communicated definition...we can describe and quickly understand other terms like a... healthy relationship and an abusive relationship or an emotionally abusive relationship...good relationships...etc.

When people talk about being "...in a relationship..." they often mean aromantic relationship. But even if they were not romantically involved with someone...they would be in many different types of ongoing relationships.

They might have …


And because there are so many types of relationships...each with its specific limits or boundaries...defining the context of the relationship is crucial. That way you can tell whether you...or someone else...is "crossing the line" and violating relationship boundaries.

From relationship boundaries you can go to professional boundaries

Or you can...



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