How to Protect Personal Boundaries and Why They Are Violated

It’s possible to violate personal boundaries physically – to get close to someone so that it becomes uncomfortable, uncomfortable. However, most of the time our personal space is violated in conversations – by asking personal questions and asking uncomfortable questions. There are people who don’t take into account that there is personal time, and consider it normal to call even strangers at any time of the day or blame them for activities they enjoy, like betting at Bet22 or watching strange YouTube videos. There are those who deliberately go in for manipulation to then use our weakness or confusion for their own purposes. How to deal with such people and do they all behave this way?

What It Means to Violate Personal Boundaries

Violating personal boundaries is often toxic behavior that can poison our lives. Someone invades our personal space knowing that we don’t want it and that it poisons our lives.

The boundary violation continues even after we let it be known that we don’t like it and don’t want it.

This is how we perceive it, but the “abuser” doesn’t always realize that he is hurting us.

What We Do if Our Boundaries Are Violated Intentionally

If you are sure that your boundaries are being violated on purpose, it’s important to stop it. The main task in such a case is to increase the distance, physically or mentally.

The first thing to do is to communicate your desire to stop invading your personal space. At first this should be done politely. Perhaps our interlocutor still doesn’t realize or doesn’t notice that he or she is making us uncomfortable.

If there is no response, it’s necessary to take tougher steps, if necessary, even at the cost of breaking up the relationship.

Let’s figure out how to do all this in practice. Let’s say someone invaded your personal space physically – came too close. Try to turn sideways to him, saving yourself from an uncomfortable position. If he came again, move away a second time and stare intently eye-to-eye at the interlocutor, letting him know: you realize that he is doing it on purpose.

If he comes a third time, it’s worth stating in words that you’re asking him to keep his distance. Clearly communicate that you are uncomfortable communicating so close. If he will continue his attempts – it’s worth it to stop communicating with him. This can be a pause for a while, it depends on who the person is to you and what kind of relationship you have. In any case, the manipulation should be stopped, otherwise, it won’t only continue but also intensify.

If the person calls or comes at a bad time, suddenly calls to talk or to solve some business, you should do the same thing as in the case of physical violation of boundaries. The first time politely offered to talk later, the second time to let you know that you do not like it, and the third time to say that you do not want to communicate so closely, and to call for mutual courtesy – to communicate not only when he wants, but when you want.

How to Prevent Manipulation

Toxic people are, and they are all around us. But not everyone suffers from them. It’s always easier to prevent trouble than to deal with it. How to combat the violation of personal boundaries, preventing a difficult situation?

More chances to become a victim of manipulation are those who are used to grabbing the phone at the first call, responding to emails instantly, always helping at the first request for help, even without understanding the situation. “Train” your interlocutors to answer when it’s convenient for you, and if the calls keep coming in, let them know that you’ll call back when it’s convenient for you to talk. Such simple nuances let you know that you are not easily taken advantage of, which is the essence of manipulation. Manipulation is nothing more than using someone for your own purposes without their consent and to their detriment.

Personal Boundaries Are Your Security Zone

If someone invades your territory – your boundaries are violated, your safety is violated. Don’t allow this, put protection in advance, create a pro-defense against manipulators.

It’s necessary to put up defenses and where is the limit of our boundaries? Why do people feel uncomfortable if someone gets too close? After all, in transportation we calmly tolerate the presence of a large number of people close to us, and even if it’s unpleasant, we don’t feel in danger.

It’s More Complicated Than That

Why don’t people follow simple rules like respecting someone’s privacy? If we are dealing with manipulation, everything is clear: the manipulator does it on purpose. You can safeguard against the abuse of personal boundaries for yourself, but not for others. The manipulator will find another victim, or find a way to take advantage of your resource if it’s you he wants. Confronting a manipulator is not easy; sometimes it requires you to become one.

But personal boundaries are much harder when you are not dealing with a manipulator, but with someone just like yourself, who is also trying to protect his or her own personal boundaries.

At a time when you think your personal territory is being invaded, someone else may think the same about you, justifiably thinking that you are wrong. Recall the Dunning-Kruger effect.

If you live in your apartment, you won’t tolerate someone breaking into your home – it’s your personal territory. But what if the smells of cigarettes or the sounds of your neighbors’ music burst through your window? And what if your neighbors don’t like having too many guests over? Where is whose territory and where are the boundaries? What if your wife wants to go with you to her parents’ house and you’d like to spend the weekend differently? Who is violating whose boundaries in such a case? The fact is that if your opinion about boundaries does not coincide with the opinion of the other party, there is possible misunderstanding and conflicts of varying degrees, even if there are no manipulators among you. Everyone will simply assert their boundaries based on their own understanding of boundaries and their own interests.

It’s hard because the very notion of boundary violation implies a definition of what exactly counts as boundaries. And there is a difficulty with this, because here we will face something indefinite and relative. Our boundaries change depending on the situation, our boundaries often overlap with someone else’s boundaries and expectations, and our demands on other people run into counter demands and come into conflict with them. Is there a way out? People, families, companies, nations, and countries have many ties and areas of sharing among themselves. Defending some boundaries is often interpreted as encroaching on others.

The problem with borders is that there is no clearly visible line where one territory ends and another begins. When it comes to each individual, the notion of personal boundaries is subjective. All that can be worked with and that really works are agreements between people.

Issues of personal territory are resolved through careful conversation and clarification.

Does a person have anything that is one hundred percent personal? It is considered to be his thoughts and desires. It is for them that marketers and advertisers fight, striving to make us want to think a certain way ourselves and begin to want to buy this or that product.

Subjective Evaluation of Danger

Our discomfort is related to our subjective appraisal of danger. This evaluation, in turn, depends on a person’s current situation. For example, in a state of tension and stress a person’s threshold of sensitivity changes. During such periods, a person hears smells more clearly, reacts more sharply to sounds, and his reaction to light is more painful. When the senses become more acute, a person notices even things that normally he would not even pay attention to. This is how nature intended it: in a severe state we are more vulnerable.

Thus, it seems to us that our boundaries are being violated when we subjectively assess the situation as dangerous.

It’s for safety reasons that we tend to reveal all our secrets and details of our personal life to an unfamiliar fellow traveler on the train, but we don’t share those same secrets with those close to us. If close people ask uncomfortable questions, we consider it a violation of personal boundaries, and we tell the casual fellow traveler everything ourselves, even without waiting for questions. An unfamiliar person does not subjectively seem dangerous to us.

What kind of danger can come from close people? First, it’s the danger of relationship breakdown. There is a phrase: in order for relationships to develop, they need to take risks. This is what people are afraid to do. Any information can spoil relationships with family members, friends and partners, employers, and subordinates. So, any attempt to get closer and learn more is often perceived by people as a potential danger, a risk.

One of the reasons for overly painful protection of personal boundaries is insecurity about current relationships or awareness of their fragility. It’s possible to get rid of painful reactions by strengthening relationships, testing their strength in joint affairs, and moving to a regime of truth and trust. This applies both to personal relationships and to interaction in a team or project group.

Everyone determines for himself where his boundaries will be in each specific situation, and it depends on his own assessment of the potential danger. What does this mean and what conclusions should be drawn? One shouldn’t judge one’s own boundaries, it’s important to exercise extreme caution, to observe and delicately clarify when determining the other person’s boundaries, and to understand that our own boundaries are subjective and the other may be mistaken in their assessment.

3 Defense Strategies

Whatever the reason – the need to stop manipulation or to get rid of a sense of danger – there are situations when we need to protect our personal boundaries. How do we do this so that we don’t destroy the relationship? There are a total of three defense strategies:

  • Aggressive: sassing, insulting, hitting. The strategy is appropriate in life-threatening cases.
  • Passive: Do nothing. Sometimes it is helpful not to provoke conflict, even if your space has been invaded and verbally abused. An outburst of aggression can fade quickly, and the conflict can go away without ever having broken out.
  • Assertive: to regulate one’s behavior. Psychologists call this strategy assertiveness – the ability to build interaction with people in such a way that you can reach your own without damaging the other person and without destroying relations with him or her.


What exactly do you do to be assertive? Remember the three components:

Calmness. Don’t let the other person’s statements affect you. Don’t perceive the other person’s statements as a violation of your personal boundaries.

Seeking to understand the other. Try to determine what kind of worldview your interlocutor has, “what kind of filter is in place.” Understanding this allows you to give an answer not to the form, but to the essence.

Convergence of interests. When responding to the essence, try to find an option that suits you and takes into account the needs of the interlocutor.

If you behave assertively, the chances of taking into account the personal boundaries of the interlocutor increases significantly. This is how people find common ground and find common interests. Even in cases of manipulation, such behavior can deprive the manipulator of the resources to carry out his evil plan.