When is it a boundary and when it is just game-playing?
Talking with a friend this week who was very proud of having learned the concept of boundaries and put in place some healthy limits in his life. Then, I got to thinking… we all understand that having boundaries that say “no” to hurting yourself are a good thing. It is healthy to be able to delineate your issues from others’ issues and not to take on their problems where it is unhealthy. The books on boundaries discuss this in terms of relationships, families, parenting, etc. I recommend you read up if this is a new concept to you (well, if you are from the western cultural world anyway… may be completely irrelevant to the rest of the world).
However, in all the thinking, I asked… “When is it a boundary and when it is just game-playing?” Let me explain. If someone asks a question I do not want to answer because I feel it is not their business, then that is definitely a boundary. I avoid the question or change the topic, keep my boundary in place. Healthy. BUT when someone asks a question I am uncomfortable with because its just a touchy topic for me, and I don’t answer because I say its about boundaries, well, then is it a boundary or is it just game-playing?
Somehow the feeling that someone has gone from just being clear about boundaries to straight gaming is a bad one…so we don’t want to judge, we don’t address it…just let it slide. Then what was a healthy relationship with healthy boundaries becomes unhealthy…the boundaries are there, but they are more to invoke game-playing than to actually assist in keeping a healthy sense of self or healthy relationships.
What do you think? Is there such a thing as boundaries becoming a controlling game-playing move in a relationship?