What is a Boundary?

The ability to say yes or no at the appropriate time!

 Are you in control of your life?

Do people take advantage of you?

Do you have trouble saying no?

  • Do you have trouble asking for help?
  • Is everything someone else’s fault?
  • Do you have a need to be in control?

Spiritual maturity + Emotional maturity = Health


Types of People who struggle with Boundary issues…

1.  Compliant People

Need to have the power to say things like:

  • No
  • I disagree
  • I will not
  • I choose not to
  • Stop that
  • It hurts
  • Its wrong
  • That’s bad
  • I don’t like it when you touch me there


Blocking a child’s ability to say no handicaps that child for life. Adults with handicaps like this first boundary injury ….they say yes to bad things.

  • Compliant people have fuzzy and indistinct boundaries; they melt into the demands and needs of other people.
  • They can’t stand alone, distinct from people who want something from them.
  • They pretend to like the restaurants and movies their friends do.
  • Compliants are chameleons. They don’t rock the boat.


Compliants can’t say no because of …

  1. Fear of hurting the other person’s feelings
  2. Fear of abandonment and separateness
  3. A wish to be totally dependent on another
  4. Fear of someone else’s anger
  5. Fear of being shamed
  6. Fear of being seen as bad or selfish
  7. Fear of being unspiritual
  8. Fear of one’s overstrict, critical conscience

Compliants take on too many responsibilities and set too few boundaries, not by choice, but because they are afraid.


2.  People who Avoid/Isolate

  • It’s the inability to ask for help
  • To recognize one’s own needs
  • To let others in
  • Avoidants withdraw when they are in need
  • Say no to the good.

At the heart of this boundary problem is boundaries are seen as walls. Boundaries are to breathe to be like fences with a gate and let the good in and the bad out.

Compliant Avoidants suffer from what is called “reversed boundaries”. They have no boundaries where they need them, and they have boundaries where they shouldn’t have them.


3.  Controlling People

Aggressive controllers – They run over other peoples fences like a tank. Sometimes verbally, physically abusive. Most of the time not aware of others boundaries.

Manipulative controllers – Less honest than the aggressive controllers, manipulators try to persuade people out of their boundaries. They talk others into yes.


  • Controllers are undisciplined people and can’t curb their impulses or desires.
  • Although they seem to get what they want, they are slaves to their appetites
  • Controllers don’t take responsibilitiy for owning their own lives
  • Having relied on bullying or indirectness they can’t function on their own in the world.
  • Controllers are isolated. People stay with them out of fear, guilt or dependency.

The only remedy is to let controllers experience the consequences of their irresponsibility.


4.  Non-responsive People

Neglect their responsibility, don’t own it!

 Don’t realize that they are responsible to someone


Controlling non-responsive people have a hard time looking past themselves. They see others as responsible for their struggles and are on the lookout for someone to take care of them. They gravitate toward someone with blurry boundaries, who will naturally take on too many responsibilities in the relationship and who won’t complain about it.


What happens when a rescuing enabling person meets a controlling, insensitive person?

Answer: They get married. 


Compliant avoidants search for someone to repair. This keeps them saying yes and keeps them out of touch with their own needs. Hello to controlling nonresponsive.

Controlling nonresponsives search for someone to keep them away from responsibility. Hello to compliant avoidant.


source:  Dr. Cloud & Townsend




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