6 Types of Boundaries Every Woman Must Have to Be Happy
Afraid you give away too much? Personal empowerment requires the time and energy to put your own goals first
The entire world takes from women. Others can take so much from us, time disappears and before we know it, we realize we lived our lives in service to other people’s dreams instead of our own.
Others take our energy, our freedom, our time, our work, and our bodies. Women are expected to be all things to all people, to the point that many believe it’s inappropriate for women to have boundaries at all, or that it’s selfish to have boundaries with a husband, child, parent, or boss.
The sheer amount of responsibility women have today is emotionally and physically crushing (feel like you do EVERYTHING? Check out my last article).
There are some boundaries with others that women must have in order to lead a happy, healthy life — whether those around us like it or not.
Number 1 — Physical boundaries. Your home, your bedroom, your space, and your body are your own, and yet much of society treats women’s bodies like public property, from men touching women inappropriately to a woman’s right to her own body being questioned whenever it’s politically useful. Your right to your home sanctuary, and to your own body, and what you are willing to do with it, are absolute. Physical boundaries keep us safe and maintain our independence and autonomy. You’re allowed to say:
“I don’t feel comfortable inviting you in right now.”
“Please ask before walking into my room.”
“Do not touch me.”
“Please give me more space.”
“I can’t walk any further. I need to sit down.”
Number 2 — Emotional boundaries. Your mind and emotions are your own. You are not required to share them with anyone, or be forced to let anyone else share them with you. We’ve all known “emotional vampires” in our lives who want to suck every drop of attention out of us. Both men and women can be emotional vampires, from strangers to friends to family.
There are times we can “be there” for others and times we want others to “be there” for us, but there are also times we need to be alone to regroup. Don’t let anyone guilt you into a conversation you don’t want to have. You’re allowed to say:
“I don’t feel comfortable sharing that.”
“I want to help you, but I cannot have this discussion right now.”
“I need to care for myself before I care for others.”
“That is none of your business.”
“I really need help right now. Are you in a place to be able to help me?”
Number 3 — Sexual Boundaries. It’s an ingrained part of institutionalized sexism in our country that many men believe women don’t really mean ‘no’, or that a ‘no’ is temporary and he only has to keep pushing and coercing to get what he wants.
Say ‘no’ when you mean ‘no’, and ‘yes’ when you mean ‘yes’, and require lovers to respect your boundaries and believe what you say. You did not “lead someone on” by having a conversation, accepting a date, or allowing someone to pay for your dinner. You’re allowed to say:
“I do not want to have sex.” (permanently or right now)
“I do not like that, please stop doing it.”
“I’m really into this. Would you be comfortable doing this?”
“Do not question my sexual orientation.”
“You must use a condom.”
“I do (or do not) want to become a mother.”
Number 4 — Mental/Intellectual boundaries. Where does a mansplainer get his water? Well, actually….
It’s not only okay, you are entitled to your own opinion and to expressing it. You are also entitled to stand your ground when you know better, question anyone, and point out your credentials without being harassed or hurt. You are allowed to disagree with parents, friends, husbands/boyfriends, and children in private and public. You’re allowed to say:
“This is what I think.”
“I will only talk to you if you can talk to me with respect.”
“I will not speak to you if you belittle me.”
“I have experience/degrees, etc. on a particular topic, and I am certain I know what I’m talking about.”
“This is why I feel differently…”
“I have just as much right to an education as you.”
Number 5 — Time Boundaries. We all know people who think they are entitled to our time and energy. Women are working harder than ever, especially since the pandemic when we are expected to be employees and employers, wives, girlfriends, parents, adult children, friends, and part time elementary school teachers to children who can’t go to school.
Being a wife doesn’t mean having to spend the entire night in the kitchen because your husband sprung it on you that tomorrow is “potluck day” at work, and being a mother doesn’t mean having to spend the entire night crafting because your child told you at 7 pm he needs a lobster costume by tomorrow morning. You’re allowed to say:
“I have time to help with this, but not that.”
“I cannot contribute anything to the bake sale this month.”
“I am unable to work weekends.”
“I am too tired to do that right now. I can do it next week.”
“I am happy to do that writing/research for you. My hourly rate is….”
Number 6 — Possessions and Money Boundaries. We all have that friend or family member who is always asking for something, and we all know someone who never returns what they borrow. It does not make you stingy or selfish to want to protect your hard-earned money or possessions, or to set a limit on what you’re willing to give, even to family. You’re allowed to say:
“You can borrow my shoes, but I must have them back by Friday.”
“I do not let people borrow my car; I am the only driver on my insurance.”
“I do not feel comfortable loaning the diamond earrings my mother gave me.”
“I cannot give you money right now. Can I help in another way?”
Speaking your feelings and desires and refusing to give in when others attempt to force themselves on you (and they will) will help you lead a happier, saner life. Your sex and/or gender do not determine how much of you other people are entitled to.
Erecting boundaries can be challenging for those who aren’t used to it, but learning to do so will ensure you don’t look back in time and wonder what happened to your own plans, dreams, and desires. Sticking to your guns is also a great confidence builder! It’s easier to make big dreams come true when you believe in yourself, and when you ensure you have a surplus of what you need before giving to others.