Boundaries can be tricky.  One of the things people I work with often want to know is, “what is a boundary? Give me a list.”  My answer is that it depends on your motive. The same action can be a control/manipulation or a healthy boundary depending on your motive.  What you are trying to accomplish is what makes the difference. If you are trying to control or change someone else, or the outcome of a situation, that is controlling or manipulative.  If you are trying to create emotional safety for yourself and choosing how it’s acceptable for yourself to be treated (notice the complete focus on self), that is a boundary. I tell people that motives run on a continuum with complete and utter control or manipulation on one end, and complete focus on oneself on the other end.  Often you won’t be completely one or the other as you practice setting boundaries. And that’s okay! The phrase in 12-step programs that I love is: progress not perfection.

The idea is simply to look at your motives honestly.  

Sometimes people accuse you of trying to control and manipulate them with your so-called boundaries.  That is understandable since motive is often the only difference, and they can’t truly know what’s going on inside you.  If you’ve considered your motives you can stand tall inside your own skin knowing their conclusions are inaccurate, and you don’t have to prove yourself to them.  Your boundaries are for you. Others are welcome to accept them and participate in the relationship, or not.