By Rachel Rubenstein, LCSW

Boundaries refers to behavior that crosses the line of comfort and respect, for yourself and others. Engaging in uncomfortable or dangerous behavior physically, verbally, emotionally or sexually. Boundaries include what we say, what we do, how others treat us and how we respond to others in a way that protects ourselves and allows us to be safe, healthy and happy. We create sound relationships with others…and ourselves!

When we are uncomfortable, hurting ourselves or others through words or actions or have that funny feeling in our stomach that tells us something isn’t quite right…those are times we pay extra special attention. Is a boundary being crossed?

Here are just a few examples of how your boundaries may be at risk:

Physical Boundary Violations

Sitting too close Poking, pushing, shoving
Hugging without permission Hitting, kicking, etc.
Tickling, practical jokes Getting up in someone’s face
Pushing someone into water Standing too close
Coming in without knocking Reading journals, letters
Borrowing without permission Listening in on phone calls


Verbal Boundary Violations

Threats Profanity
Name calling Lying
Gossip  Blaming (verbal and emotional)
Interrupting Sarcasm
Insult, then “just kidding” Tone of voice, whining
Yelling Speaking for group, not self


Emotional Boundary Violations

Breaking a promise Cheating on someone
Lying (also verbal) Silent treatment
Shaming (also verbal) Dirty looks
Telling someone how to feel  Shoulds
Mind games    Making fun of others’ feelings
Being condescending  Avoiding someone
“Smothering” behavior  


Sexual Boundary Violations

Rape Molestation
Touching without permission Treating someone as an object
Sexual nicknames Sexual talk, dirty jokes
Whistling, catcalls Ignoring a “no”
Rating by number (she’s a 10!)  Talking to a woman’s chest instead of her face
Being possessive of another person  


Having a question about boundaries? Not sure what to do? Find a trusted adult and talk about it. Or call or text the TeenCrisisLine 602.248.8336 (TEEN). Come back to next month to learn about how to manage your boundaries and communicate them with others. You got this, Girl!


Rachel Rubenstein, LCSW has over 20 years experience working with adolescents, families and couples. She is dedicated to assisting her clients in developing and strengthening interpersonal skills, creating healthier relationships and achieving new and positive goals.