Boundaries teach people how to treat you. People can only know what they have been taught. They are not offensive, and when people are offended by your boundaries, rather than apologize, notice what they are offended by, and treat them like a potential red flag. “Hmm, she’s offended that I won’t take phone calls past a certain hour”, “I see he disregards that I have said that I am not interested”. Sure, a lot of people test boundaries, many disregard them, and some will keep crossing them until you say no. Saying no as soon as your boundaries are crossed is extremely important, because if you let it slide a few times until you are thoroughly pissed, the person has a history of you allowing the behavior, and will use it as prof of permission.
It is okay to communicate boundaries before they are crossed: “I don’t lend money to friends”, “I never work for free”, “It’s not okay to call me at work”, but it is even more important to watch how they react to your boundaries. Are they looking for a loophole, circumstances under which your boundaries would be okay to cross? Do they present their special needs, and call on you expecting to treat them as special?
Women with strong boundaries get more respect. They are not rude, instead their No is firm and uncompromising. When they say no, no one questions them. Why? Because that word doesn’t come with an apology. Because they are not offended when someone calls them a prude, rude or a bitch. They are sure of themselves, and they don’t fall apart when someone threatens them for saying no.
If you feel the need to apologize for enforcing your boundaries, you are signaling the other person that you are unsure of yourself, that you might be pliable, bendable, that you are careful not to offend the offender. In essence, you are giving the offender more respect than you have for yourself.
Some women are not comfortable saying no, so they make an excuse “I can’t, I didn’t get paid yet, so I can’t lend you money”. Again, you may be inadvertently signaling the other person that you would, if only you had the money. Boundary crossers are always looking for a way in, so don’t be surprised if they keep trying. Sooner or later, they will catch you on the day you get your paycheck.
People only know what they have been taught. And if you feel bad to teach them, you have a problem, and it is yours to fix.
If you have a child, you understand the importance of teaching rules. You are also aware that children are constantly pushing your buttons, testing your boundaries, and that they never, ever stop. Your job is never done when you are a parent. This is why you should know that your job of protecting your boundaries with men, employers, friends, relatives is also never done. Your job doesn’t stop just because your boss is nice, your mother is sick, your brother checked out of rehab, and that guy is now officially your boyfriend.
Women who can say no while looking you in the eye without blinking are total Goddesses. Of course, her no will always be tested, but she won’t give in just because someone tried to make her feel guilty.
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