Porous Boundaries: Effects, Examples And How To Fix It

Discover the profound impact of porous boundaries in various contexts, explore real-life examples, and uncover effective strategies to address and rectify it.

They are like imaginary lines that protect us from unwanted intrusions, and physical or emotional harm, and allow us to maintain our individuality and autonomy.

We are going to explore in this post, the benefits, limitations, and how to maintain a healthy porous boundary.

Recommended: Understanding Personal Boundaries

What is a diffuse or porous boundary?

Porous boundaries illustration

A porous boundary is a type of boundary that allows for a free flow of information, emotions, and experiences between oneself and others. Permeable boundaries are also called diffuse boundaries.

In other words, it is a boundary that is flexible, permeable, and allows for a certain level of vulnerability and intimacy.

A porous boundary is not the same as having no boundary at all, but rather a boundary that is consciously and intentionally set to allow for connection and growth while still maintaining a sense of self.

Benefits of a porous boundary

One of the main benefits of a porous boundary is that it allows for deeper and more meaningful connections with others.

When we are open and receptive to others’ experiences and emotions, we create a safe and supportive space for them to be vulnerable and authentic.

This, in turn, can foster a stronger sense of trust and intimacy in our relationships.

A porous boundary can also help us to grow and learn from our interactions with others.

By being open to new experiences and perspectives, we can expand our understanding of the world and ourselves.

This can lead to personal growth and development, as well as a greater sense of empathy and compassion for others.

Drawbacks of a porous boundary

While a porous boundary can have many benefits, it can also have drawbacks.

One of the main risks of a porous boundary is that it can leave us vulnerable to emotional and psychological harm.

When we are open and receptive to others’ experiences and emotions, we run the risk of taking on their emotions as our own.

This can be especially challenging if we are already dealing with our own emotional struggles.

Another potential drawback of a porous boundary is that it can lead to a loss of individuality and autonomy.

When we are too open and receptive to others, we may find ourselves taking on their beliefs and values, rather than maintaining our own sense of self.

Related: Creating Healthy Sexual Boundaries With Your Spouse

Porosity in boundaries is the opposite of rigid boundaries, which is having too strict boundaries that keep people away from you.

The key is creating a balance that’s not too strict nor too porous. This however requires intent and awareness of oneself to know when to do which.

Balancing the advantages and disadvantages of porous boundary

The key to balancing the advantages and disadvantages of porous boundaries is to hone our skills in boundary-setting and communication.

By developing a clear sense of what our personal boundaries are, we can communicate these effectively to others.

Learning to say no when needed, expressing our needs and expectations, and setting healthy limits in our relationships can all help us maintain healthy porous boundaries.

People are not the cause of your diffuse boundaries

Most people whom you overshare yourself with might not actually be manipulative or the cause of your boundary’s porosity, but because you don’t have restrictions, they unconsciously take advantage.

If your insecurity spurs you to give unnecessary assistance, the recipient might not reject it because it saves him time and energy.

Anybody who fetches ant-infested firewood would definitely have lizards around for a feast.

Causes of diffuse boundaries

You must fix your porous and poor boundaries to be happy

Diffuse boundaries are caused by similar factors as other boundary types which all act on the individual’s self-esteem.

Anything that makes a person lose their self-esteem is likely to cost them their boundaries or not to establish boundaries at all.

Here are some of the causes of porous and weak boundaries:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Faulty upbringing
  • Giving people too much care and attention
  • Religion
  • Culture
  • Low-self esteem
  • Poverty

Fear of rejection: People who are afraid of rejection by others would exhibit porous boundaries. They would give up their restrictions for acceptance by others.

Faulty upbringing: If parents failed in respecting the needs and well-being of a child, that child might develop a strong feeling of being less important and not expecting much in life.

This is common for people raised in abusive homes where self-suppression, projected emotions, and lack of safety reign supreme.

They grow up with this idea and live their lives serving others. Also, families without family boundaries raise kids with weak boundaries.

Having boundaries is not a personality type, but a symptom of embedded childhood adaptation that has become instinctual.

Giving people too much care and attention: Porous boundaries can come about when you pay too much attention to people around you and become excessively involved in their affairs.

When you do this often, you unconsciously sip and dissolve into their affairs and lose yourself.

Religion: Religion has been a potent tool some people use for altering human behaviour because of the many sentiments attached to it.

Related: Importance Of Setting Emotional Boundaries

People are emotionally attached to religion that it be used to sway them into calculated behaviours.

Religion can be easily latched on to crumble boundaries by coercing or cajoling others to do its bidding.

Pastors, Imams, and other religious leaders utilize this side of religion very well.

Culture: Culture is another tool that is liable to strip people of their boundaries or stop people from having boundaries in the first place.

In some cultures, young people don’t have the right to keep money, whatever they earn is submitted to their parents or guardians and they will never get it back.

Low-self esteem: Having low self-esteem can be a reason for having porous boundaries. People who don’t have confidence or trust in their abilities unconsciously open themselves up for trespasses to feel among.

They feel they are not good enough or have what it takes to have an opinion or make a splash.

Everyone can penetrate them, abuse and use them for their gains without any form of resistance.

Related: Setting Healthy Boundaries In A Romantic Relationship

Poverty: Poverty can trigger a lot of negative situations and make one out of their natural element.

Poverty strips people of their humanity, dignity, and respect. It makes people do things they wouldn’t do just so they can eat.

Being poor means one’s access to good things in life is limited – the quality of people he mingles with, low spending power, the kind of places he visits, and the respect he gets.

All these create so many weaknesses in the quality of his life that he is left vulnerable to porous boundaries.

Traits and signs of porous boundaries

  • Shares too much personal information without restraint.
  • Lack of the ability to take a stand.
  • Clingy.
  • Dependent on other people’s opinions.
  • Fears rejection.
  • Stretch themselves too far for others without much gain.
  • They change or lose their personalities for others.
  • Inherits other people’s problems.
  • They have the feeling their ideas and opinions hold no water and so are not eligible to be aired.
  • They never challenge authority or counter opinions even when they are wrong.
  • They are jittery that when their ideas are bad or rejected, they lose the little respect they have and so avoid giving opinions.
  • They are “yes” members in a group, and never say “no” even when they don’t agree with the opinion or it’s directly against them.
  • Gets jittery and nervous when asked to make decisions, especially ones that have to do with a public presentation.
  • They love to be led and detest taking charge.
  • They are scared of losing connections with people and so are people pleasers to be in their good books.

Examples of porous boundaries

Herd mentality: Herd mentality is when a person follows the crowd or a group because he wants to feel among and therefore neglects or loses his individual qualities in the process while adopting those of others in the group.

This can be seen in the lives of criminals, delinquents in society, and young people who have no direction in life.

Never having an opinion on issues: Not having an opinion is another example of having a porous boundary. This is because you think your opinion will not count, people would laugh at it, or because you think you are not worth having an opinion.

Clinginess: In relationships, clinginess is a sign of having porous boundaries because they have this gnawing feeling of inadequacy, therefore cling to others annoyingly to remain relevant.

Being manipulated by religious leaders: Some religious leaders use the tool of religion to manipulate and control their members who follow sheepishly.

They open up for their religious leaders on all fronts, including finances, family, sexual, and other areas of life that should be private.

Giving unsolicited assistance: Growing up, I used to have people who admire me because of my soft and gentle nature.

They loved to spend time with me and assist me with laundry and other house chores.

They made me a priority and discomforted themselves to please me so I could value them.

This was uncomfortable to me because they belittled themselves for my sake and I couldn’t help because I was quite young.

People give unsolicited assistance so they can score some points and be regarded, but this is not always the case as their insecurity is glaring.

Effects of porous boundaries on mental health

Having a porous boundary will make you depressed and anxious

Living your life for others and at the expense of your own mental well-being leaves you hollow and bruised on many fronts, including on the social front.

The porous boundaries are an indication of a lack of self-confidence, self-respect, and self-promoting values.

People – friends, family, co-workers, and every other person that has contact with you would exploit you wittingly or unwittingly

Here are some effects of having porosity in your boundaries:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Toxic and abusive relationships
  • Hard to attain self-fulfillment
  • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Lack of personal growth
  • Suicidal thoughts 

How to fix porous boundaries

To fix your porous boundaries, you must first identify and accept your life's porosity.

Practicing self-care and self-knowing will help you get rid of all the porosities and set you on the path to healthy boundaries.

Just like other boundary defects, porous boundaries can be fixed by identifying and accepting they are there.

This is the first step in fixing your porosity. Identifying the loopholes would naturally bring forth how to fix them.

Repairing your weak boundaries and moving to healthy boundaries will demand personal work from you. However, if you are intentional with the porosity of your boundary, then it’s okay.

Maintaining a healthy porous boundary

So, how can we maintain a healthy porous boundary? One way is to set clear and intentional boundaries around what we are willing and able to share with others.

This means being honest with ourselves and others about our own emotional limitations and needs.

We can also practice self-care and emotional regulation techniques to help us manage our own emotions and prevent emotional burnout.

Another way to maintain a healthy porous boundary is to practice active listening and empathy.

This means being present and fully engaged in our interactions with others, without judgment or preconceived notions.

By truly listening to others and trying to understand their perspective, we can create a safe and supportive space for connection and growth.


A porous boundary can be a valuable tool for creating deeper and more meaningful connections with others.

However, it is important to be mindful of the potential risks and drawbacks, and to take steps to maintain a healthy balance between openness and self-preservation.

By setting clear boundaries, practicing self-care and emotional regulation, and practicing active listening and empathy, we can create a safe and supportive space for connection and growth while still maintaining a strong sense of self.


Signs Of Loose Boundaries

Strengthening Your Boundaries

Emotional Permeability Or Boundary Porosity?

Helping Weak Boundaries

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A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.

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