How to Know When it’s Time To Set Boundaries

How to Know When it’s Time To Set Boundaries

How to Know When it's Time To Set Boundaries

Boundaries are a tough thing for some people to set. I know, I’m one of those people. Especially when it comes to people like family. Setting boundaries with parents, aunts, uncles, or siblings can be a hard thing to do. 

Usually when you decide to set boundaries it is because you’ve reached a breaking point. But how do you know when that breaking point is? It’s tough. You’ve most likely been letting someone do something uncomfortable for months or years, and you have to find the courage to put your foot down.

Here are a few reasons it might be time to set some boundaries.


Talking to Them Makes You Angry

This is something I’ve recently been dealing with. I have a family member who has gotten on every last nerve the past few times I’ve spoken with them. This is due a variety of reasons like:

  • Blaming me for something happening that I had no control over
  • Making the issue/crisis I was going through about them
  • Disregarding my requests at not talking about a certain subject
  • Calling me only to complain about their problems, then hanging up
  • Being rude and defensive when I called them out on their previous behavior
  • Compare my issues to theirs. Because they went through worse my problems shouldn’t matter.

That’s only some of the issues I’ve been dealing with, but are the most recent ones that have caused me to stop communication until I can get a handle on things better.

If as soon as you see their name pop up on your phone screen, you want to throw your phone against a wall, you might be at the point to set some boundaries.

Related: How to Find Yourself During an Existential Crisis: Part 1 – Figure Out Your Personality


You Don’t Want to Be Around Them

Because I only see this person once a year, I feel guilty for not wanting to interact with them when I do see them. However, their actions and words have made it clear to me that they are oblivious to how they impact other people.

I usually see this person around the winter holidays, and it has honestly gotten to the point that I much rather rent a hotel room than spend the night at their house. They have a toxic relationship with their spouse (they have gotten better in certain ways regarding their interaction with myself) which spills over into when I am visiting, and they seem to think because when I was growing up I was on “their” side of things, I will be now. That’s not always the case.

If you spend time with someone and you become less and less excited to see them, or it’s to the point where you dread going to visit, you might need to set some boundaries.

Related: How to Deal With Helicopter Parenting Part 1: Take Back Millennial


They Don’t Respect Your Requests

This could be as simple as “could you please not talk about X. This topic is not something I want to talk about” or “could you make sure there is no X ingredient in the food you are making, I am allergic to it”. If you ask them to do or not do something and they continue on without regards to your request, and this is a repeated issue, you might need to set some boundaries.

I have come to the point where I have been telling this person for almost 3 years to not talk about a certain topic. So what do they do? Bring up that topic almost every phone call. I constantly get angry and remind them I don’t want to talk about it, but it seems to go in one ear and out the other, or, they just don’t care. They have something they want to tell me and it doesn’t matter if it will make me upset, they need to feel better.

I will be setting a boundary regarding this. I’m going to let them know that if they mention the topic, I will remind them I don’t want to talk about it. If they continue, I will end the conversation and not respond to any calls or texts. We are both adults, if a mutual respect cannot be in place, I don’t want to have a conversation.

If this is something that is happening to you, you might want to consider some boundaries.

Related: 5 Things I Learned From Being Raised By My Parents




Take a Communication Break

If you have any of these issues, it might be time to set boundaries. But how do you go about doing that? Well, first, you should have some kind of communication break. You can choose whether you are going to tell them or not. That is up to you. The biggest thing is you need some time to yourself to sit down and think about everything.

Take as much time as you need. There is no rush, and they cannot force you to talk to them. However, this will be harder if you currently live with that person, or have to see them on a daily basis. 

Related: What to Do When You’re Stuck in a Rut


Think About Your Boundaries

What is is that this person is doing? What do you want them to do/not do?  

This was actually a bit hard for me to write down, simply because I was still upset over the last conversation we had that I just didn’t want to talk to them at all. However, I had gotten to the point where I needed to at least start writing down what boundaries I wanted them to follow, and what I would do if they ignore them.

I literally just picked up a notebook and pen, and started writing down what came to mind. Even things that didn’t have to do with the last conversation because they are still things I want to address. 


Talk to a Therapist or Trusted Friend/Family Member

Sometimes our anger and emotions from one thing can make everything this person does seem rude, out of place, or just boundary breaking. However, that may not always be the case. I do suggest talking to a therapist about this, especially if you have one. Explain your side of things and what you want to do. They are a neutral third party that can let you know if you’ve gone a little off the deep end with what you want.

If you don’t have a therapist (I highly suggest one. They’re great people!) try talking to someone you trust and respect to have the empathy to understand where you are coming from, but the ability to put you in your place if you start demanding things that aren’t productive.


Reading from the web:


Have you ever had to set boundaries with someone? 

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Loretta

    This was just what I needed to read. Only recently have I been learning to set boundaries to protect my own mental health. Thank you for the extra advice!

    1. It so hard, right!? Who thought just trying to stay mentally healthy was so complicated? lol.

      I hope this helps!

      XO Steph <3

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