Having boundaries is an important part of emotional intelligence. Boundaries are how you keep toxic people out of your life. At the same time, however, it can be hard to enforce those boundaries. Humans are social animals; we have an instinctive desire to cooperate and to get along. But there are people who exploit those desires for their own ends. Users and abusers, parasites and emotional vampires, bullies and all-around assholes are all people who will take advantage of people who don’t have or maintain strong boundaries. They will take advantage of people’s unwillingness to stand up for themselves in order to force them into compliance. Sometimes it’s overt, sometimes it’s subtle, but the end result is the same: they get what they want out of you and you end up feeling worse than ever before.
Having boundaries is pointless if you don’t maintain and apply them. So let’s talk a little about just how to build up those boundaries and make them stick.