When have you needed to enforce a boundary even though the outcome upset you?


Spurred from a question @catawumpus raised here: “So we’re in a position of holding our boundary, which will leave him without a place to live. […] I just don’t know how to handle it. I’m trying to just live for today, but when he was on the streets before was when my obsessing was at its worst. I don’t want to go back there.”

Looking for specific examples. What was the situation? How did you enforce or reevaluate the boundary? How did you feel? What was the outcome?


A counselor once told me that boundaries can be flexible, and that really helped me understand them. What is the purpose of the boundary you are setting? Is it achieving that purpose? It’s ok to adjust it, just like any goal.

For instance, my husband and have financial boundaries so we aren’t spending more than we can afford or that we feel comfortable with for our 24-year-old son. Just like following a budget, it keeps us on track.

I have emotional boundaries where I don’t always want to know the details of my son’s latest problems. For instance, he told me he got bad news and I replied, I have faith that you’ll be able to get through whatever is happening. I didn’t ask for details at that moment. It gives him and me some space where I am not obsessing about his problems.

My husband and I help our son problem solve and think through situations, and how to handle consequences. He has a hard time seeing reality clearly sometimes. He is probably being kicked out of his apartment for being late with rent (that was the bad news this time), and we will help him brainstorm ideas. The brain is not fully functional when addiction is involved - that has been my experience.


Love it! Thanks for sharing your perspective @Julie_Smith!


Love this @Julie_Smith! Boundaries can absolutely be flexible, and hopefully reevaluated every now and then to see if they’re still viable or not. Sometimes our loved ones do have difficulty seeing reality clearly and if we can step in, in a helpful supportive way, we can help them see very clearly.

Personally I made a boundary with my brother that if he became emotional to the point where my heart rate escalated I would back off the conversation. The other night this happened: I got a call from him and he was very agitated about a situation at work. He kept going on and on and eventually I remembered my boundary, said “I love you but I have to get off the phone, we’ll talk about this when we’re both calmer, and when it isn’t 12am”. He was highly agitated and I was worried for him to go down an emotional spiral. I felt really uncomfortable going back to this boundary, but I needed to continue to reinforce this specific one to protect myself. The next day we were able to speak and it was good.

I think when looking at whatever the boundary is, it’s important to not be so rigid, allow ourselves to trust out gut, and allow ourselves to change our minds regarding a boundary if needed. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries… :slight_smile:


Love this example @erica of using something internal as your prompting to enforce a boundary! Thanks for sharing.


Early on the relationship with my fiance I had told her if she continues to steal from and ruin my financial stability, I will move out to have some space and protect my money. Well long story short I caught her in a lie, she stole 120.00 from me to pay off a dealer.so while she was at work, my brother came over and loaded up all my stuff into his car and left. I picked my fiance up from work and dropped her off and she was devastated. She cried, it was hard to deal with but I set my boundary and enacted the consequences.


@Katie it was tough but had to be done. The reaction I got was still weird though. Knowing why I moved out, because she stole and lied continuously, she still reacted as if I was an awful person for doing it. I’m the bad guy haha she’s the victim…sometimes it really bugs me how people seem to not understand that they need to take responsibility for their actions


Wow, that must’ve been really hard @Dean_Acton.


It’s almost impressive how someone struggling with addiction has this Super Power of making us the bad guy.

Why do I feel guilty when you’re the one who’s behaved in an unkind/unfair way!?

Maybe guilt isn’t the emotion you experience - so I won’t put words in your mouth - but certainly true for me.


What happened after that? I feel like this is an issue we deal with