Sunday, November 6, 2016

Boundaries

Wilson never crossed the fence. Tim knew the boundary would be respected.
"Good fences make good neighbors."

Most cliches become such for a reason- they're true! Whether it's not counting chickens before they're hatched (because baby chicks have a notoriously high mortality rate), or a warning about free lunches (because the cost has to come from somewhere), these sayings are true.

So what is the truth behind the fences/neighbors saying?

Our society works because we all know how things work. We know who is in charge of what, and when someone messes with something that isn't theirs to mess with, we have police and judges, referees and umpires, even bouncers to sort it all out and re-establish order.

Sometimes that order is very clear- laws, school rules, workplace policy books. But sometimes the "rules" aren't so clear, like in interpersonal relationships. We are all individuals, each with our own unique talents and tolerances. When those tolerances are reached by someone close to us, when a loved one pushes you past what you can handle, what happens?

"I've had it! I can't take this anymore!"
"I'm not ok with how you treated me."
"I am moving out."
"I need you to move out."
"I want a divorce."

The reality is that not honoring someone else's boundary is a fundamental disrespect. When you violate a boundary someone else has set- no matter the boundary, no matter their reason- you are telling them in no uncertain terms that you think their tolerances don't matter. They still have to tolerate you, no matter what. If you have damaged their belongings, offended their feelings, or hurt their body, you've violated a boundary.

And you're in the wrong.

Respecting boundaries isn't being a wuss. Respecting boundaries isn't a sign of weakness or apathy.
It's a sign of....


wait for it...


Respect. It's kindness. It's courtesy and honor. It's civility. It's maturity.

Good fences make good neighbors. Clear boundaries that are upheld create healthy relationships.

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