The Art (and Complexity) of Setting Non-Selfish Boundaries

Are boundaries selfish? The answer is more complex than ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Elaine C.


Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

Boundaries have been an ongoing conversation in my household.

My partner used to be a chronic people-pleaser, always putting other people before himself in ways that would impact or get in the way of his own needs. On the flip side, I’ve never had a problem issuing a firm ‘no’ when people or situations overstepped the mark. The great thing for us is we offer each other balance. He encourages me to be more open and flexible (something I often need reminding of) and I help him understand when he needs to lay down a line and stick to it.

As we’ve talked over the years about our ideas of boundaries, we’ve sought input from various sources to help us grow our understanding and personal perceptions. It’s become clear that, culturally and socially, our understanding of the need for boundaries has expanded considerably, especially in the realm of psychological safety and emotional health.

It’s generally considered that if we’re seeking to put boundaries in place across our lives, they serve a valuable purpose, but is there a point at which these boundaries could actually become selfish?