Category: <span>Codependence</span>

5 signs you do not respect other people’s boundaries

Boundary work is essential for those invested in personal growth and development. When one thinks of boundaries, they associate it with saying no to others. The focus seems to be on how our boundaries are not respected by others and what to do when that happens. But if there are a lot of us thinking the same way, who is not respecting others’ boundaries? Could that be us as well? If you believe to have weak boundaries, you most likely struggle to respect other people’s. To help you understand how you might be doing that, here are 5 signs you do not respect other people’s boundaries:

5 signs you do not respect other people’s boundaries
Do you struggle to respect other people’s boundaries?

1- You are sure of other people’s problems: you do not recognise others as experts in their own lives and believe to be the one who knows the true root of their suffering. Therefore, you spend great energy psychoanalysing them while overlooking your own vulnerabilities and limitations.

2- You do not accept when others need distance: you feel personally attacked when others do not want to spend time with you. When they express their need to take distance, you are not interested in their reasons or even take them into consideration.

3- You resent others when they do not agree with you: you feel a sense of rejection and alienation when you fail to influence others. You hold rigid values about relationships and struggle to accept individuality and be emotionally/psychologically separate from other people.

4- You do not accept others’ limitations: you have high expectations of others. When they are not met, you feel restless, disappointed and/or resentful. You struggle to accept people and things just as they are and not how you want them to be.

5- You do not see others as whole: your views of others are based on projection, or on how they make you feel. You see others only in their suffering and limitations to feel empowered and have a sense of self-esteem. You struggle to separate your own feelings of insecurity and inadequacy from your perception of others.

Relationships are challenging and few of us know how to properly navigate them. Healthy boundaries are at the core of what makes relationships functional. Boundary work is a two-way street, however.  You can become mindful of your limits, learn how to express them and gain a greater sense of wellbeing in relational contexts, but that does not exclude the role you play in honouring and respecting other people’s boundaries as well.

What is a codependent relationship?

What is a codependent relationship
Codependent relationships lack strong boundaries

A codependent relationship is dysfunctional because it does not favour personal growth and development. When in one, you are bound to feel a sense of discontent, as your needs are not being met. Codependent relationships are not made of heroes and villains. Those who put others’ needs before their own have obscure motivations that go beyond limitless kindness. The considered bad guys, or those who receive devoted attention and often unsolicited help, have vulnerabilities that go beyond selfishness and self-centredness. The codependent relationship dynamic is complex, far from static and cannot be fully understood through such simplistic terms.

The main vulnerability of those involved in codependent relationships is weak boundaries. Even though that is easily identifiable in the case of the giver, since their dedication to the other seems to have no bounds, it is also present in the receiver. Those who depend on givers’ dedication and effort to feel a sense of worth and connection do so because of their inability to nurture that autonomously. When you are greatly reliant on external sources for your wellbeing, the boundaries between yourself, others, and the world around you are porous, which often leads to all kinds of dependences, including emotional and relational.

Weak boundaries are deeply intertwined to high expectations, bad communication and a lot of mind reading. Since there is no clear separation of individual needs, both giver and receiver often feel dissatisfied in the relationship. The giver often feels that their dedication and effort are not matched by the receiver, while the latter may feel overwhelmed with the responsibility to match them or feel stuck with their reliance on them. Because of their fear of rejection and abandonment and poor self-regulation, both giver and receiver lack the tools to express themselves emotionally, resolve conflict and feel heard, seen and felt.

If you find yourself in a codependent relationship and would like to change that dynamic, start by working on becoming more emotionally mature. The focus of emotionally mature individuals is on learning how to tolerate discomfort felt in their own bodies, rather than psychoanalysing and fixing the other. You can achieve that through emotional autonomy, by allowing yourself to feel and process your negative feelings, such as anger and insecurity, while resisting the urge to soothe yourself through validation from external sources, be it through reassuring your worth through your dedication to others or depending on givers to feel loved and safe in relationships.