Saturday, July 5, 2008

How To Know If You Have Boundary Problems



From The Emotional Incest Syndromeby Patricia Love with Jo Robinson.. Exploring the dynamics of covert (emotional or non-sexual but gender-related) incest.


From pages 224 – 226:


Recognizing that you have overly rigid or diffuse boundaries is the first step to correcting them. The following exercize may give you some insights. Read the twelve brief scenarios and see which ones describe you. (If you've changed in recent years, you may find it helpful to note which statements used to apply to you but are no longer valid.)


  1. You've had a really good day and share your feelings with a friend. Your friend is in a bad mood and gives you a lukewarm or negative response. *Poof!* Your good mood goes out the window.

  2. You're having a bad day and a longtime friend calls you on the phone. You keep the conversation impersonal and refrain from sharing your concerns.

  3. You went to a movie with friends. You liked the movie, but they hated it. As you listen to your friends pan the movie, you begin to question your own judgment.

  4. You go to a movie you really like. Your friends hated the movie, and you automatically turn off their criticisms. While they chatter on, you privately relish your own opinions.

  5. A friend asks to borrow your car. You don't want to, but you say “yes” anyway. You end up resenting your friend for asking.

  6. Friends rarely ask to borrow anything of yours. As a rule, you don't lend out your possessions

  7. You are dating someone and find out that this person is dating someone else. You are angry and hurt, but you continue to be involved.

  8. If you are dating someone and that person is dating someone else, you'd rather not know about it. That's his or her business. You like a separation between your personal lives.

  9. All a friend has to do is mention a problem and you try to solve it. You often feel that you know what's best for people, or feel obligated to resolve their difficulties.

  10. You rarely give or seek advice from friends. On the whole, you consider your affairs and their affairs private matters.

  11. You have a hard time keeping a secret. If you know something that concerns on of your friends, you usually tell. It's just a matter of finding the right time and opportunity.

  12. You are quite good about keeping secrets. You may have information that directly concerns a friend, for example, but keep it to yourself. Some people claim it's hard to pry information loose from you.


Look back over your own responses. If you have loose boundaries, it is likely that you identified more with the odd-numbered statements. If you have rigid boundaries, the even-numbered statements probably rang more true. If you checked the same number of odd and even statements, you may have rigid boundaries in some areas of your life and loose ones in others.



Excerpt from
Dr. Patricia Love's

The Emotional Incest Syndrome:
What to Do When a Parent's Love Rule's Your Life
Bantam Books, 1990