I’ve been talking briefly this last week about boundaries, especially since it is such a popular topic not only among those who go see a therapist, but it is popularized in self-help books, magazines, talk shows and about everywhere you look.

Unfortunately, boundaries may be talked a lot about, but they are easier to talk about than to develop and to live within. In terms of setting boundaries two fears often arise when we think about them in terms of our relationships:

  1. What if I set a boundary? It’s risky.  What if the person doesn’t like what I have to say?  Or worse, doesn’t want to be my friend, or stay in a relationship.
  2. What if I don’t set a boundary? That’s risky too.  I might remain in the same situation, with the same dynamic replaying in the relationship.

I love what Henry Cloud and John Townsend say in their great book Boundaries:

We are built for relationship. Attachment is the foundation of the soul’s existence. When this foundation is cracked or faulty, boundaries become impossible to develop. Why? Because when we lack relationship, we have nowhere to go in a conflict. When we are not secure that we are loved, we are forced to choose between two bad options:

  1. We set limits and risk losing a relationship.
  2. We don’t set limits and remain a prisoner to the wishes of another. (pp. 64)

What is your biggest worry/fear/anxiety in setting a boundary in a relationship?