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6 Subtle Signs Your Boundaries Are Being Broken

When someone has broken a physical boundary, it’s usually easy to tell. These boundaries relate to your body, physical space and privacy. For instance, someone might cross your physical boundary when they stand too close or barge into your room without knocking.

However, emotional and mental boundaries tend to be more subtle and tougher to spot. How do you know if someone has crossed these limits?

Here are six telltale signs, along with how to tell someone they’ve broken your boundary.

11 Comments to
6 Subtle Signs Your Boundaries Are Being Broken

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  1. This assumes one has developed boundaries in the first place. It took time for me to realize that my boundaries were trained out of me as a kid. I am working at reestablishing what those are for me. At times, I feel guilt for having a boundary. It’s a slow repatriation.becoming healthier is not easy. It is worth it.

  2. I Think everyone should know their subtle signs your boundaries are being broken.It would help alot of relationships. Between family and your husband or boyfriend.

  3. This is a very constructive post about boundaries that I think is easier for a lot of individuals to follow, check and recheck on our day to day life. I didn’t even know my boundaries have been crossed a lot of times. Thank you for posting this! Happy New Year.

  4. My adult daughters often cross & tear down my boundaries when they come to my home to visit. Then if I dont do what they say, or give them what they want, they make me feel guilty & start the blame game by bringing up the past. They continue to threaten to withhold contact from me, ect. I really need to stand firm with them and not give in. Thank you for posting this.

    • I get the same thing. manipulative buggers, aren’t they? I tell them, look you are a young adult now. It’s time you act like one and treat me as an adult, not your mommy.

  5. I was told by my first counselor in recent months that I have boundary issues–a concept I wasn’t familiar with, but his explanation was believable. I used the terms door mat or whipping post. I’ve really improved in recent months. My former friends used to love seeing me thrown into a panic or bummed out over “book sense isn’t common sense,” implying I should give up on writing, watch Bonanza re-runs, and die. By the way, I liked this article. At Kwanzaa Faith night, I gave the story of I recovered from the claim that no lady could care about me because I read the Harvard Business Review.

  6. Interesting, it is a shame its not innately in me, i would not get trod on.

  7. This is a great article. I recommend the book about treasuring your boundaries quite often as it’s the best book I have read on the topic.

    In terms of setting them, in my book The Essential Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder I make the point that you need to think through what makes you stuck before you go through the limitsetting process.

    For example, if you try to set a limit and someone threatens you with something (I will leave you, I will try to kill myself) you need to think through the threat and how you will respond. (I deal with suicide threats in Stop Walking on Eggshells.)

    Also, expect your limits to be tested. They will be! The best way to think about this is to think of CONSEQUENCES instead of LIMITS. What will the consequence (which you can control) be when someone does something you asked them not to (or doesn’t do something you wanted them to do, like their homework). You focus on this rather than their behavior, which you can’t control.

    In the first book I mentioned, I have a step by step process about how to set limits/consequences.

    Randi Kreger

  8. I need some help just understanding the term “boundaries.” I mean, I’ve come across it before, but I don’t understand why these examples of being treated badly or thoughtlessly, or being guilt-tripped, are described as examples of “boundary crossing” instead of some other term. What does “boundary” mean here, exactly? What’s inside and outside of it?

  9. It is definitely worth a)knowing about the specifics of personal boundaries and b)knowing how to ensure they’re safely in place around yourself to protect and empower your good self. Thanks for this info. Good luck to all on: knowing yourself, knowing others and recognising their games. Good luck on being strong and aware.

  10. This is a good, basic article on boundaries. Cloud and Townsend have several excellent books and videos on the subject. But they are men. Men need boundaries, too, I guess, but I think women need to be aware of theirs and define them for others who are encroaching. Like my plumber walked into the kitchen today and I wasn’t comfortable about it and should have said something. Just too close for comfort. There is always the phrase, “I feel that……” which is assertive enough to let someone know something is not OK with you. I think boundaries is something we have to practice and be aware of on a daily basis. I imagine in a marriage boundaries are hard to define, so I’m happy to be single right now and just work on boundaries.



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