Boundaries: 21 Questions to Uncover Your Style

Boundaries: 21 questions to uncover your style

Orlando Counseling Providing Relationship Therapy

Do your relationship patterns have you feeling puzzled? This series on relationship boundaries will reveal some of the dynamics that have you feeling stuck. As an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, I want to ensure that you have a clear understanding of your boundary style, and how it is impacting your relationships.

In my last blog post, we talked about four boundaries for a healthy relationship. In this article, I discuss limiting boundary styles that hold you back from having a healthy relationship.

Healthy Boundary Style

In my last post, I touched on the way healthy boundaries change over time. They are flexible, taking into consideration many things like, your mood, the trust established within the relationship, and the length of the relationship. A person with healthy boundary awareness will adjust how much they are willing to “give” in relationships accordingly.

If the flow of giving and receiving within relationships feels more like friction, you may have a limited boundary style. Below describes three limited boundary styles and 21 questions to explore if one of these boundary styles is getting in the way of a healthy relationship.

Under-bounded Style

In an under-bounded style, you have the propensity to give too much away for a given circumstance. A person with an under-bounded style is missing a clearly defined sense of self and is likely to be enmeshed with their partner. If you have an under-bounded style, you have trouble saying, “no” and setting healthy limits.

If you answer “yes” to one or more of these, it is possible that you have an under-bounded style:

  1. Do you have a pattern of having consensual sex before you are ready in your relationships?

  2. Do you say “yes” when you want to say “no?”

  3. Do you have a pattern of sharing your things (ie, money, car, home) early in the relationship before trust is established?

  4. Do you feel “taken advantage of” often?

  5. Do you often worry that your partner will leave you?

  6. Do you share too much personal information before trust is established?

  7. Do you “move too fast” in relationships?

  8. Do you feel powerless in your relationship?

  9. Do you feel responsible for your partner’s well-being?

  10. Do you feel controlled or manipulated in your relationship?

Over-bounded Style

For folks that have an over-bounded style, people will experience you as “walled off” or guarded. In this case there is a perpetual “no” happening. You have a hard time saying, “yes.” There is an avoidance of physical or emotional contact and there is a tendency to be self-reliant and avoid being vulnerable.

If you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, it is possible you have an over-bounded style:

  1. Do you prefer a lot of distance in your relationship?

  2. Do you view relationships or your partner as threatening (when there is no real threat of danger)?

  3. Do you have a hard time saying “yes?”

  4. Do people experience you as guarded?

  5. Does emotional closeness make you feel uncomfortable?

  6. Does physical closeness make you feel uncomfortable?

  7. Do you feel isolated in your relationship?

  8. Are you rigid or have a lot of rules in your relationship?

  9. Do you have difficulty accepting help?

  10. Is it difficult trust in relationships?

Pendulum Boundary Style

In this case, you can switch back and forth. You might start out with an under-bounded style and when that creates a painful experience, swing to the other side of being over-bounded. For example, you might long for emotional closeness and once you have it, feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, so you slam shut like a scared clam.

Did you answer “yes” to multiple questions in both categories Under-bounded and Over-bounded? If so, it is possible that you have pendulum boundary style.

If you uncovered a limited boundary style, It’s important to remember that your way of relating in your relationship was created out of necessity from your childhood experiences. At some point, it served as a way of keeping you safe and connected to your parents or primary caregivers. I encourage you to ask yourself this question: How did my boundary style help me when I was a kid? The answer to this question will give you some insight into why you are either under-bounded or over-bounded.

By simply bringing awareness to your boundary style, you can begin to reorganize the way you show up in your relationship. If you notice an under-bounded style, start challenging your automatic “yes.” If the opposite is true and you are more over-bounded, begin to question your automatic, “no.” Sometimes, awareness is enough to bring about the change you desire. And sometimes awareness is not enough; you may need the support of a relationship counselor. If that is you, I encourage to get the help you need from a trained relationship therapist.

As always, I want to give credit where credit is due. My information on boundaries comes from the work I do with my clients, my personal life and my training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.

Want more on boundaries? Check out these posts:

Boundaries Deconstructed

3 Fundamentals to Boundaries [+ 20 Q Self-assessment to Boot]

4 Boundaries for a Healthy Relationship and 14 Questions to See How You're Doing

5 Simple Steps to Setting a Boundary

Boundaries: 3 Reasons You Move the Line

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Lauran is an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, FL. She also specializes in helping people heal old broken relationship patterns that keep them from finding, creating, and keeping healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family. Lauran uses a down to earth approach infused with cutting-edge therapies that go beyond traditional talking to help clients feel calm in their body and mind and find peace within themselves.