While some people struggle with setting personal boundaries, others may have rigid boundaries that can be just as damaging.
In the absence of this boundary, we encounter situations that make us vulnerable. But are rigid personal boundaries all that good?
People have different ways they block or filter out negative energies and influences in their lives.
These could be emotional or physically unwanted influences that cause discomfort in any way.
Out of experience, you might be conditioned to stay away from a particular kind of person because of the feelings they elicit from you.
Or you might avoid some environments that do not align with your spirit.
The degree of this filtering or blockage is measured in the boundary spectrum. Rigid, porous, or healthy boundaries fall along this spectrum.
Check here for boundary types we have discussed on this website.
What are rigid boundaries?
Rigid boundaries are boundaries that are so strict and inflexible that they can interfere with healthy relationships.
People with this type of boundary may have difficulty being vulnerable and connecting with others emotionally.
They may have a “my way or the highway” attitude and struggle to compromise or adapt to changing circumstances.
This very strict boundary can be personal boundaries either physical, emotional, or mental that form a strong border around your life that rigidly does not allow any changes or access to your personal space.
Boundaries of rigidity can come in the form of strict rules, instructions, guides, or limits placed around your person to protect your interest against abuse and misbehaviours.
Some people can be emotionally rigid in their boundaries to protect themselves from emotional hurts.
You can establish this strict boundary in any area of your life including finance, family, social, emotional or workplace.
For instance, there are people who don’t love because of how vulnerable they can become with love, and so establish concrete imaginary boundaries around anything that looks like love.
Though strict boundaries can be beneficial but are they really good generally? Is it wise not to go all out in being rigid with your boundaries?
Characteristics of rigid boundaries
- Strives to have power and force their beliefs on others to adopt.
- Believes that only their ideas and opinions are superior.
- Shames people who challenge or fault their authority.
- They see things in black and white.
- They are jittery and don’t know how to handle situations maturely. They mess situations up and blame others.
- They have fragile egos and avoid mistakes by all means because they don’t want to look stupid or let their weaknesses show.
- When they are turned down, they feel rejected and offended because it puts a dent in their authority and control.
- They most times guilt-trip people to manipulate them to sustain their control over them.
- Their jealousy is easily triggered because of fear of losing control or respect.
- They detest fresh ground and are intimidated by trying new things. They want to get a grasp of everything before they go ahead with a decision.
- Gets jittery when their plan or technique fails and rejects opinions that are not in line with their approach.
- They are distant, detached, and easily offended and so avoid playfulness.
- They hardly open up to people whom they perceive as different from them, especially in relationships. This owes to their inability to change or adjust their view and get confident.
Below are some benefits and demerits of having a strict boundary:
Benefits of rigid boundaries
While this type of boundary can cause problems in relationships and emotional well-being, there are some potential benefits to having strict boundaries in certain situations.
Protection: Strict boundaries can help protect individuals from emotional harm, abuse, or manipulation by others.
Clear communication: It can help individuals communicate their needs and expectations clearly, which can be especially helpful in situations where others may not respect or understand softer boundaries.
Consistency: Strict boundaries can help individuals maintain consistency in their interactions with others, which can help build trust and respect over time.
Independence: It can help individuals maintain a sense of independence and autonomy in their relationships, which can be important for personal growth and development.
Self-care: It can be a form of self-care, allowing individuals to prioritize their own needs and well-being above others’ demands and expectations.
Individuals should strive to develop a healthy balance of boundaries that are firm, but also adaptable and open to communication and compromise when appropriate.
Demerits of rigid boundaries
While boundaries are important, having rigid boundaries can cause a host of problems, including:
Difficulty building and maintaining relationships: People with strict boundaries may have trouble connecting with others, leading to difficulty building and maintaining relationships.
Lack of empathy: It can make it challenging for individuals to understand and empathize with others, which can cause social isolation and difficulties in personal and professional relationships.
Inflexibility: It can lead to a lack of adaptability, making it difficult for individuals to adjust to new situations or collaborate with others effectively.
Emotional detachment: It can lead to emotional detachment, causing individuals to suppress their emotions and distance themselves from others.
Rigid boundaries in families
There are families whose boundaries are so rigid they make sure every family member holds onto the values of the family without external influence.
Most times, this type of boundary in families is occasioned by a feeling of superiority they exhibit against external people.
It could be triggered by wealth, education, or any other factor that makes humans belittle others.
Strict boundaries in families can also be a result of bad experiences from external people and they decide to tighten all loopholes people can exploit either emotionally or physically.
Strict boundaries in relationships
Having too many rules or and boundaries in relationships might not sound familiar, but to an extent, it’s good for your partner to know their limits in everything that has to do with the relationship with you including sex, communication, and play.
It is advisable to establish boundaries somewhere between rigidity and porosity in the boundary spectrum to have a healthy boundary.
Finding balance with your boundaries
Being extremely rigid with your boundaries can have negative effects and won’t give the best result as we listed above.
It’s always good to strike a balance so you are not too rigid and not too porous in your boundaries. Having a boundary of porosity would leave you too vulnerable and susceptible to emotional and physical harm.
On the other hand, being too rigid would scare people away and make you lose important connections and human fellowship.
Finding the middle ground is knowing which situations to be rigid in and ones to soften up.
With experience, one would always know the best way to navigate situations and look out for himself.
Causes of rigid boundaries
Just like some other boundaries, rigid boundaries can be caused by a number of factors described below:
- Emotional trauma
- Bad experiences
Emotional trauma: Emotional traumas can be a cause for establishing a rigid boundary as this would guarantee protection for the individual, especially when the trauma is coming from close people.
An example is rape by a close friend or family member. Trauma usually accompanies rape and would have a lasting impression on the mind of the victim which makes them have a very strong and strict boundary.
Bad experiences: When I have a bad experience with a particular person, I reduce the way I interact with them depending on the severity of the situation.
If the situation is so grave, I cut them off entirely, and if it is mild, I can just limit the attention I have for them.
Hereditary: Hereditary plays an important role in shaping people’s behaviours around others.
There are people who are rigid because rigidity runs in their family. They pick this up naturally.
This kind of rigid boundary is very hard to break because that is how they are comfortable living their lives.
Personality: Personality is another factor that contributes to having strict boundaries.
For instance, most introverted personalities are rigid in their boundaries not because they don’t want people around, but because that’s how they have evolved to be.
Examples of rigid boundaries
- Blocking and cutting people off from your life
- Being haughty and treating people condescendingly
- Not asking or needing help
- Not expressing emotions because it makes you appear weak
- You hardly change your mind when it is made up
- Lack of empathy
- You are always defensive
To understand how to maintain a balanced boundary, read our post on establishing healthy boundaries.
Addressing rigid boundaries
If you recognize yourself as having overly strict boundaries, there are several things you can do to address the issue:
Identify the problem: The first step in addressing this is recognizing that they are a problem. Start by reflecting on how your boundaries have affected your relationships and your overall well-being.
Seek professional help: Consider working with a mental health professional who can help you explore your rigid boundaries and develop more flexible and adaptive approaches to managing relationships.
Practice vulnerability: Practice being vulnerable with others by sharing your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly. This can be of help in building stronger relationships with others.
Practice compromise: Practice compromising by working collaboratively with others and being willing to make concessions when necessary.
Practice mindfulness: Practice mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, to help manage feelings of anxiety and discomfort that may arise when your boundaries are challenged.
Rigid boundaries are sometimes good, while other times, they can hurt a person’s interaction and relationship with society.
It’s always best to have a balance with your boundaries according to situations so you make the most of the benefits in the boundary spectrum.
Thank you for reading. Your opinion and suggestions are welcomed.
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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