what are boundaries

What are boundaries, and how to implement them? 

In the modern day, the term boundary has been globally popularized and is now more than ever part of various conversations. However, what is the definition of this word, and how can we apply it in our life?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a boundary indicates or fixes a limit or extent. In other words, boundaries provide perimeters for functioning and defining roles in relationships. Additionally, a boundary are an expectation and need that help individuals feel safer and comfortable in their relationships.

Types Of Boundaries

How can I identify what boundary I need to add to my life? One way to do so is by thinking about the areas where you are experiencing problems. Also, there may be signs disrupting your well-being, such as self-neglect, overgiving, or even being unable to state your needs to those around you.

It is important to know the boundary we are trying to implement. A variety of them can be useful in increasing our well-being, but they are also involved in our relationships and keeps us safe.

  • Physical: Privacy, personal space, your body (e.g., I prefer not to hug people that I do not know)
  • Sexual: People's touch protects your right to consent, have an honest conversation about sexuality, your partner's sexual history, and how people see your body and treat you in sexual situations.
  • Intellectual (communication): Topics that you do and do not feel comfortable discussing (e.g., I would rather not be part of this conversation, or I would appreciate not being called names for my beliefs and opinions), Freedom to have your thoughts, ideas, and values.
  • Emotional: How emotionally available you are to others
  • Material: Giving or lending to others, monetary decisions
  • Time: How much time you spend with someone or doing something
  • Internal: Self-regulation energy expended on self vs. others.

How To Implement These Boundaries?

As a starter, it is essential to understand that your boundary must be clear, concise expectations. Boundaries need to be verbalized, and you must uphold what you communicate through your behaviour (i.e., what do you do when someone violates your boundary?). It is important to avoid assuming that people will know your boundary based on your body language.

As a way to be precise when setting a personal boundary, start your sentence with the following:

  • I want
  • I need
  • I expect

You can follow up with an explicit action you want to see that may help maintain your relationships. In other words, assertiveness is required when expressing your feelings openly and respectfully.

Remember: Stating a problem is not establishing a boundary. Boundaries can be the results that you desire to see.

Lastly, while teaching others to respect your personal boundary, we must also learn to honor them ourselves. Setting up a personal boundary will bring discomfort and a feeling of guilt. However, it is part of the process and will need to be repeated continuously as it is an ongoing process. You may have to expect resistance, too, and may experience a fear of conflict.

However, you are not responsible for how others react to your boundary. By maintaining them, you teach your counterparts that your needs are just as valid and that you are responsible for your feelings and actions.

Always remember that setting a personal boundary is healthy and a sign of a healthy relationship.


Glover Tawwab, N. (2023). Understanding the Six Types of Boundaries. PESI. Retrieved April 15, 2023, from https://www.pesi.com/blog/details/2169/understanding-the-six-types-of-boundaries 

Nash, J. (2018, January 5). How to Set Healthy Boundaries & Build Positive Relationships. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/great-self-care-setting-healthy-boundaries/#boundaries 

Setting Boundaries Efficiently. (2021, June 11). How to identify and set boundaries in your relationships.https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/happy-healthy-relationships/202106/setting-boundaries-efficiently

About OCP

Ontario Counselling and Psychotherapy is a group of psychotherapists and social workers in Ottawa, Cornwall, Toronto (and soon other cities in Ontario) who offer expertise in a variety of mental health areas and believe in an integrated approach to counselling. We work with you and pride ourselves in creating a strong relationship with our clients by ensuring that we are a good fit to help you attain your therapy goals. We offer individual, couple, family and child psychotherapy to clients all over Ontario.

We invite you to explore our site and contact the therapist of your choice. You will find our contact information under “Our therapists” tab. If you are unsure, call the centre at (613) 699-0060 or email at ocp.therapyinfo@gmail.com, and we will answer any questions you may have, direct you to a therapist, and, if you wish, set you up with one of our therapists.