How Porous Boundaries May Be Stunting Your Personal Growth

Having diffuse or porous boundaries will jeopardize your personal growth, you live a vulnerable life, and be a people-pleaser without establishing an independent self. Here’s how to fix it.

When you don’t have a mind of your own, don’t speak up when people offend you or project your own agenda, you operate a weak boundary and lacking in self-security.

It’s time to set up your personal boundaries and start living independently while you improve your personal growth.

Being humble, selfless, and empathizing with people is different from relegating your needs to attend to those of others because you want to please them.

Related: How To Set Healthy Boundaries In A Romantic Relationship And Avoid Conflicts

It’s okay if you are pleasing people with an agenda or to get some results in a grand scheme, if not, this article and others in the boundary category on this website are for you and would help you identify and accept your boundary porosity and a pathway to fixing it.

What is a diffuse or porous boundary?

Porous boundaries illustration

Porous boundaries also called diffuse boundaries, are when a person’s life is lived not for his own needs and interest, but those of others.

There are people who lose themselves, including their identity in their quest to please others. They have weak or poor boundaries which makes them vulnerable to manipulation and outside influence.

They are too attached and dependent on others that they do their bidding. You have weak boundaries when you put other people’s needs ahead of yours.

You struggle with anxiety and seek validation from other people before you feel relevant.

Related: How To Create Healthy Sexual Boundaries With Your Spouse

A porous boundary is violated at will and this causes a lot of mental and emotional problems for you over time.

Porosity of boundaries can happen in many areas of your life including family, sexual, friendship circles, workplace etc.

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.

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.

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 diffuse boundaries

  • Shares too much personal information without restraint.
  • Lack of the ability to take a stand.
  • Clingy.
  • Dependent on other people’s opinions.
  • Taking abuse and disrespect as normal.
  • Fears rejection.
  • People take advantage of him and he dies in silence.
  • Stretch themselves too far for others without much gain.
  • They change or lose their personalities for others.
  • Inherits other people’s problems.
  • They leave others to control them as they feel they have nothing to contribute. No leadership qualities.
  • 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.
  • They are baby adults who wait for others to tell them what and how to do them.
  • Their emotions are determined by the people around them.
  • Unstable personality, fragile identity. Connects with people shallowly because they don’t have what it takes to have deep connections.

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
Weak boundaries and mental health

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.

This will allow you to reinforce your emotional and mental health and empower your whole personality, have a purpose, and attend to your aspirations.

To fix the porosity in your personal space and boundaries, check this section on this website to find your area of boundary deficiency.


Porous boundaries are a lack of self-restriction and make one overshare him or herself with others without restriction.

Looking out for yourself is not selfishness but self-care and protection against unconscious manipulations by others.

Some people become aware of their porous boundaries at different times in life, while others never discover themselves.

The most important thing is you need to own yourself and be independent irrespective of when you discover yourself and begin working on strengthening your boundaries and earning back your dignity and happiness.

Thank you for reading. We welcome your opinions and suggestions to make us deliver quality articles.


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.

Every content published on The Conducts Of Life is well-reviewed by experienced professionals in the field. Contents are fact-checked for accuracy, relevance, and timeliness and we include links to sources at the bottom of every article for more insights.

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