6 Reasons Why It’s Hard to Set Boundaries (And How to Overcome Them)


We often hear about boundaries and how they’re essential to have.

But what are they really?

Why is it hard to set boundaries?

Why are they so difficult to maintain?

Here, you’ll find the answers to these questions and more to help get you on the right track to being your healthy, loving, and authentic self.

“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.”

Robert Holden

What Are Boundaries?

A boundary may have been violated when you were emotionally, verbally, physically, or sexually abused.

It’s an established set of limits over your physical and emotional well-being that you expect others to respect in their relationship with you.

Basically, a limit or line you will not allow anyone to cross because of the negative impact.

It’s a healthy emotional or physical distance you can maintain between you and another so that you (or they) do not become overly entangled or dependent.

Sometimes we have unhealthy boundaries in relationships.

But a healthy boundary is clearly defined limits where you are free to be yourself with no restrictions placed on you by others as to how to think, feel or act.

Boundaries are not just about saying no; they’re also about saying yes to what matters.

Know and understand what your limits are. They are not brick walls and don’t have to be unkind. They are filters.

Who Needs Them?


They make you a safe person, and people know where they stand with you.

Boundaries let you take care of yourself.

They protect and defend against unwanted behavior while fostering the behavior you do want.

If you don’t set boundaries, you give yourself away and allow people to walk all over you.

But when you do set boundaries, you give away only what you want. This allows you to give to more people over a continued period of time. It keeps you in control of your time, effort, and energy.

It also allows others to be aware of their behavior, enabling them to change.

Common Beliefs Keeping You From Setting Good Boundaries

There’s a reason why you haven’t set boundaries yet. If you can identify that belief, you can move closer to creating and maintaining boundaries.

  1. We genuinely care and think we must be the ones to help those in need.
  2. We people-please. We don’t want to hurt their feelings or be perceived as selfish. If left unchecked, people-pleasing can lead to exhaustion, resentment, and neglect of your own needs. This is often rooted in codependency, lack of self-esteem, and fear of rejection.
  3. “Love knows no boundaries.” A saying for a dysfunctional relationship. Sometimes saying no is the most loving thing you can do. It requires courage and honesty, which is necessary for a relationship. Pretending nothing is wrong and maintaining the current pattern can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as resentment and manipulation.
  4. The belief that boundaries are mean or aggressive. For those who are intimidated by confronting someone to establish boundaries, that’s a sign of poor boundaries. Setting boundaries is about modifying your own behavior and revealing your authentic self to others. Being transparent with others is about caring for yourself. How others perceive your boundary is not your business.
  5. The feeling that people may abandon you for setting boundaries. Some might. If you fear abandonment, you undermine your ability to be true to yourself. If boundary setting makes you feel guilty, it’s important to ask yourself, “Am I putting someone else’s happiness above my own?” Boundaries are not meant to push someone away or demonstrate you don’t love them. They’re an expression of respect for each person’s individuality in the relationship.
  6. The belief that boundary setting means saying no all the time. It’s also about saying yes to the things that truly matter to you.

Don’t Be A Martyr

You are not responsible for them and don’t have to rescue them.

You might feel as if you have to be in the mud with them ( if they’re angry at something, now you’re showing the same type of anger).

You might also feel you have to be the one to save them, which can result in unhealthy dependency.

Both result in compassion fatigue and burnout, exhausting yourself and not genuinely helping the other person. You don’t have to fix everyone else.

A healthy boundary is to provide support while leaving the problem-solving up to them.

Imagine physically pulling someone out of a hole versus throwing them a rope and holding onto it. It still requires presence, patience, and strength, but not nearly as much work.

To Sum It Up

Boundaries are healthy lines you establish with yourself and others. They honor you and your needs while also helping others (even if it doesn’t always seem like it).

Everyone needs boundaries in all aspects of their lives: work, home, love, etc.

Do some digging and see what beliefs prevent you from making and maintaining boundaries.

Once you’ve accepted these, you can begin to move forward, being true to yourself and making changes for a healthier and happier you.

Resources to Help:


Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Suicide and crisis lifeline: 988

Crisis Text line: Text ‘HOME’ to 741741

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