I first learned about the concept of psychological boundaries a little over a year ago. But something didn’t seem quite right about it. People explained to me how they understood psychological boundaries, and but the explanations didn’t seem logically consistent. Sometimes, boundaries meant ~“the unavoidable separateness of individuals”, and sometimes, boundaries meant ~“things you are physically capable of doing but other people might not *want* you to do”.

Since then, I’ve spent hundreds of hours and spoken to more than a hundred people thinking about this.

Now I’ll generalize. I see four types of boundary misunderstandings between you and another person:

  • You expect that you can control someone else. (E.g., their thinking, their actions, their emotions, whether they like you.)
  • You expect that someone else can control you.
  • You expect that you can know what someone else is thinking, feeling, or wanting, without them having told you.
  • You expect that someone else can know your internal state, without you having told them.

These are all failures to acknowledge the natural boundaries that exist between individuals.

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