Violating Boundaries: 11 Helpful Strategies To Hold Yours (2022)

9 min read

Despite your efforts to set perfect boundaries, people keep violating them. This can make you feel like ditching the whole boundary setting thing altogether.

But don’t give up just yet.

While you can’t stop people from violating boundaries from time to time, you can hold onto them  with these tactics!

Let’s dive in!

1. Clarify Your Boundaries

Setting boumdaries is one thing but ensuring they’re clear is another.

You have to recognize where you draw the line which makes it easier to articulate those boundaries you set to others.

For instance, you can’t set a boundary like, “If my friend borrows money from me too much and doesn’t pay, I won’t lend him again.” How much is too much? How many times do they have to borrow without paying to warrant never lending them money again? How long should they stay with your debt? 

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See how vague such a boundary is? And this vagueness is what leads to people constantly crossing your boundaries.

It not only frustrates you but also confuses others.

But with clear boundaries, you have a greater chance for holding onto them and as a result, bettering your relationships.

For example, you can tell your friend something like, “I am only willing to lend you up to $1000 and would like you to refund me in 3 months latest. If you fail to do so, then I can’t lend you any more.”

Related: Best Setting Boundaries Exercises PDF

2. Communicate Your Boundaries Directly

Violating Boundaries
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Sugarcoating your boundaries to avoid hurting a person only leads to constant violation. If someone doesn’t clearly understand where you’ve drawn the line, how can they avoid crossing it?

Having watched the above video from the School of Life on how to stop being a people pleaser, it’s important to remember that people would rather know the real you (your likes, dislikes, quirks, boundaries e.t.c) so they may understand how to relate to you than to know the fake you and receive confusing messages from you.

Setting boundaries like the following help express clear no go zones for you:

  • “That’s a personal issue I’d prefer to not talk about.”
  • “Kindly don’t call me at X time, and I prefer that you don’ ask me why.”
  • “I don’t want to talk about my ex so I’d prefer you don’t ask about it.”

Keep in mind that you don’t need to justify your boundaries. If you think explaining is unnecessary, just state your boundary clearly and let the other person choose whether they’d respect it.

3. Establish Clear Consequences of Boundary Violation

Just as setting boundaries that are clear, you also need to set clear consequences in case someone violates them. After all, without consequences, you won’t be able to hold your boundaries.

While setting consequences, keep in mind that they should be:

  • Realistic: Ensure that you set a repurcussion you can follow through if you want to stick with your boundaries and for others to know you’re serious about them. 
  • Clear: A consequence like, “If you start making sexual advances at me, I’ll go home” is clear enough for someone to remember and for you to act on.

4. Stay Consistent

If you keep setting boundaries that you execute sometimes, people are bound to cross them whenever they like knowing well you might or might not enforce them. Inconsistency mostly ends you up with the latter decision.

Think about it, what happens if you tell your kid that they’ll be punished when they do a certain wrong only to not follow through with your promise? They’ll probably do the wrong repeatedly, right? And it wouldn’t be their fault but yours in that case.

This applies to the boundaries you set for your family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and so on.

If you tell someone you’re only going to give them 20 minutes to prepare themselves but they come out an hour later only to find you still waiting, then you’re bound to not be taken seriously. And don’t excuse yourself with, “I thought the 20 minutes might not be enough” since this takes us back to setting realistic boundaries.

If you didn’t think that time would be enough for them, then you shouldn’t have set that boundary in the first place.

For this strategy to work, you need to be realistic when setting boundaries, communicate the boundaries plus their consequences clearly, and then, follow through always.

5. Maintain Your Stand Especially During Resistance

Of course you’ll encounter people who refuse to respect your boundaries for some reason. Still, that’s not a reason to give up. You must stand your ground if you wish to stay true to your boundaries.

Some would try to manipulate you to let your boundaries slide. Some will be upset that you set boundaries for them. Some take it personally and might try to push your buttons. Whatever the case, you must stand your ground.

But how?

You need to calmly remind them of your boundaries while communicating that you won’t change your mind about it.

For example, “I know you’re upset but I still need you to respect my boundaries. I won’t meet with you if you don’t respect my personal space.”

Maintain Your Stand
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6. Be Kindly Strict

Setting boundaries with close loved ones can be tough. Some don’t see the sense in it and feel deeply hurt by your standards. Others even think you don’t love them enough if you have to set boundaries for them.

But you know what is good for you and the relationship so don’t slip up just because someone doesn’t like your restrictions.

Instead, show them that you understand how they feel but it’s still important that you keep your boundaries. Help them understand how much you care about them and that the boundaries aren’t meant to kill the relationship but help it.

For example, “I know you feel hurt because I don’t want to talk about my dating history yet. But remember that I care about you, and this boundary isn’t meant to damage our relationship but keep it together.”

7. Remind Others Your Boundaries When Forgetful

Humans are forgetful. So it’s natural for someone to forget your boundaries. But that doesn’t mean you loosen your grip on them.

When someone forgets your boundaries, you need to firmly but calmly remind them.

“I believe you’ve forgotten that I told you I’m uncomfortable talking about that, please don’t ask me about it again.”

8. Calmly Express Violation

Many people have their boundaries crossed and either passively get upset about it or attack the boundary violator harshly. 

Either of these tactics leads to failure to hold onto boundaries since passive anger only leads you to let violations slide and viciously attacking boundary violators only makes you the bad guy in the situation – which justifies the violator’s behavior.

But the way to stick with your boundaries here is calmness.

For example, “Even if you’re upset, you’ve crossed the line here and called me names again so I’m not going to take abuses anymore. I’m leaving.”

Even if you’re giving the other person another chance, it’s important to be calm when telling someone the wrong they’ve done. This way, your boundary setting becomes helpful rather than destructive.

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9. Stay Patient With Yourself and Others

It’s entirely normal to blunder from time to time. You might forget your boundary sometimes or slip up when someone pushes your buttons

You might have said you won’t tolerate conversations with your brother while in the study working from home but find yourself breaking the rule.

Don’t beat yourself up about that. And don’t give up on the boundary either.

Instead, be intentional about defending your boundaries next time and try again. Especially if you have boundary issues, it’s going to be challenging to get your promises right the first time. But still don’t give up.

Being kind to yourself about your slip-ups increases your chances of holding onto your boundaries.

This applies to others as well. Some boundary violators have boundary issues themselves. And even people with the best intentions find it hard to stick to new rules. This is why you need to be patient with them as well.

After all, it’s advisable to treat others how you want to be treated.

10. Improve on Your Boundaries

When setting boundaries, it may seem that what you decide is perfect. But you’ll know how effective they are when in practice.

This makes sense why along the way you realize that some of your boundaries were unrealistic, unclear, or too outrageous if they were even imposed on you. In such cases, don’t be afraid to modify them.

Also, you can create new boundaries to complement old ones – just make sure you can follow through with them.

11. Cut a Persistent Violator Off

If someone isn’t committing to your boundaries intentionally and instead ignores and violates them constantly, this strategy is the best to ensure you prevent further violations. People who refuse to respect your boundaries are toxic and should stay away from your life.

Persistent Violator Off
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You can minimize your interactions with a notorious boundary violator or close off your connection with them completely if you can.

For instance, someone who constantly posts inappropriate stuff on your social media profiles despite your protests would better off be blocked. You can also avoid going to places you’d always find your boundary violator so you can keep your peace of mind.

It’s tough to apply this tactic to your loved ones but you can take any of these steps to cut off boundary violators from your life:

  • Block them on social media
  • Ignore them completely
  • Give them the last talk to communicate your decision

The Psychology Boundary Violations – Q&A

Still have more questions on violating personal boundaries? Here’s where we’ll discuss everything from the types of boundary violations to how to deal with loved ones violating your boundaries. 

What are boundary violations?

Boundary violations involve breaking of rules of a particular relationship. When someone violates the boundaries, they get to face consequences if the one facing the violation enforces the boundaries.

What are examples of boundary violations?

If wondering how you might cross the line, here are common boundary violations to watch out for:

  • Physical boundaries violations: Also known as external boundaries, these involve the invasion of physical personal space including, getting too close to someone physically without their permission, touching someone without consent, and smoking near someone among others.
  • Emotional boundaries violations: Also known as internal boundaries, emotional boundaries involve breaking certain relationship rules which affect the other person emotionally. It can be name-calling, insinuating that someone is worthless, stupid, or such negative identities, and giving unsolicited advice among others.
  • Spiritual boundaries violations: These include imposing spiritual opinions on others and trying to control someone spiritually without consent among other violations.
  • Time boundaries violations: These involve breaking the rules around which someone values and wants others to value their time 
  • Sexual boundaries violations: These may be physical or emotional boundaries related to sexuality that someone violates by making sexual advances and innuendoes without another’s consent.
  • Material boundaries violations: These involve crossing the line as far as money and possessions are concerned. For instance, one using a plot of land that doesn’t belong to them without the owner’s consent or staying with someone’s debt longer than negotiated, and so forth.

What are emotional boundary violations?

Emotional boundaries are violated when someone criticizes, degrades, manipulates, or insults a person’s feelings. Emotional boundary crossings are simply being treated how we don’t like being treated be it being called unkind names, or being disrespected among others.

How do you know if someone is violating boundaries?

  • They ignore your rules regarding how you should be treated
  • They push to get their own way
  • They throw insults around your boundaries
  • They don’t try to stick to your boundaries
  • They manipulate you to do things their way
  • They judge decisions that only you should make

What is the lack of boundaries personality type?

The lack of boundaries personality type is known as codependent in psychology terms or simply needy. People who are highly needy crave external love and validation so they sacrifice their needs and boundaries to avoid being rejected by anyone. These kinds of people are also known as people pleasers.

How to deal with someone who doesn’t respect boundaries

To cope with people who don’t respect your boundaries, it’s best to:

  • Minimize interactions with them
  • Maintain your stand even when they reject your boundaries
  • Express their violation directly but calmly
  • Walk away from unproductive conversations with them
  • Respond to their violations with the boundary-crossing consequences you set up
  • Consider cutting them off entirely

How to deal with family who doesnt respect boundaries – when someone crosses your boundaries

  • Set up healthy boundaries and stick to them
  • Cut short situations that violate your boundaries
  • Report the boundary violations to someone higher in authority
  • Find a safe space to take out your frustrations
  • Walk away from the violations physically and emotionally

He doesn’t respect my boundaries – What to do when your partner violates your boundaries

If your partner doesn’t respect your boundaries, show them their violation calmly but clearly. If they still don’t change their behavior, they likely aren’t ready to love your “no” and are willing to love you only when you’re complying with them. This is a general dealbreaker showing that they’re not right for you.

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Final Word on Holding Onto Boundaries

While setting boundaries may be exciting, enforcing them consistently is daunting. However, with the above tips, you can cope with boundary violations better and stick with your boundaries.

Which boundary violations do you experience? How do you cope with them? Let us know in the comments below!