The Difference Between Relationship Boundaries and Barriers

4 min readNov 21, 2020

Understanding is critical to implementation.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I had a woman tell me that she’s become hesitant to establish boundaries when dating because every time she does, she gets ghosted. She’ll be really into a person and believe things are going well. However, as soon as she tries to communicate who she is and what she wants from a relationship — they disappear.

My response to this revelation was “good.” That means it’s working.

It sucks to be ghosted by someone you like, but the sooner, the better. Someone who runs away as soon as they become aware that you have boundaries was never going to stick around. May as well get it over with early and move on. Instead of waiting until you’ve developed real feelings for the person.

This scenario did make me think, however, about the confusion many have between relationship boundaries and barriers. Maybe not everyone that ghosted this woman had cruel intentions. Perhaps, a few of the guys had the wrong idea about boundaries and viewed the notion as something that would get in the way of connecting.

When referencing boundaries, many will rebuttal with how the practice can prohibit building an intimate relationship. The idea is misconstrued as a deterrent. It’s actually quite the opposite. Healthy boundaries are crucial to a healthy relationship.

Joaquín Selva, Bc.S., Psychologist, says,

In other words, healthy boundaries can be the difference between a healthy, happy relationship and a toxic, dysfunctional relationship.

A relationship without limits is ripe for habitual offense. Partners can’t respect lines that haven’t been drawn. Two people who frequently feel violated and disregarded can’t be happy.

The first step to transforming a negative perception of boundaries is to clearly understand the concept. Think of boundaries as your identity — your needs, wants, comfort levels, and rights. It’s the line between where you begin, and another person ends.

According to Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT:

Love can’t exist without boundaries, even with your children. It’s easy to understand external boundaries as your bottom line. Think of rules and…


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