Just the Facts About Personal Boundaries

Types of Boundaries


Physical Boundaries are often defined in our culture as "personal space" or the distance we feel comfortable allowing others to occupy as we communicate with them. The more we trust others the closer we allow them to physically approach us. For example, best friends tend to sit close, share almost anything while classmates sit further away and share less property.


Social Boundaries are defined by the roles, norms and customs which prescribe certain appropriate types of behavior. Laws govern social boundaries, preventing inappropriate behaviors for certain types of social interaction. For example, there are laws in effect that state that children cannot date adults.


Emotional Boundaries determine how much and what personal information people share within a relationship. The more intimate the relationship, the more personal information we share. For example, best friends tell each other everything, while classmates may only talk about school matters.

Why are Boundaries Important?

Establishing physical, social and emotional boundaries help us to judge the acceptable and unacceptable in all our social interactions. Without boundaries, our lives and relationships would be chaotic. Establishing healthy boundaries allows people to feel secure and in control of their personal safety.

What are Boundary Violations?

Sometimes in the course of our lives other people cross our established boundaries. Boundary violation may be thought of on a continuum from slight to serious.

Often times, the boundary violation may be accidental, other times the intention may be hurtful. Boundary violations may range from dirty looks, gestures and comments to assault and sexual abuse.

Protecting Our Boundaries

Each of us is in control of setting and defending our own boundaries. Being aware of our own value system and how to respond is key to protecting ourselves against serious boundary violations like sexual abuse and harassment.

Prevention Tools



Identify Available Resources:

Boundaries and Safety

Just the Facts about Personal Boundaries is a classroom workshop designed to assist kids with skill building and development of appropriate physical, social and emotional boundaries.

Students learn:

Personal Boundary Workshops are coordinated by the St. Clair County Child Abuse/Neglect Council with the financial support of the Michigan Department of Community Health.