How to Avoid People Who Lack Healthy Emotional Boundaries

People who lack healthy emotional boundaries are best avoided.
People who lack healthy emotional boundaries are best avoided. (Image: EmmiP at

People who lack healthy emotional boundaries are individuals who struggle with interpersonal relationships in specific ways. They say things that are inappropriate, or they ask questions or make statements that are far too personal and invasive, or they come over to your house without calling first, among other annoying habits.

If a person who lacks healthy emotional boundaries has been making your life difficult, what can you realistically do to avoid that person as much as possible? The answer depends on a few different factors. For instance, is the person with no boundaries a member of your own extended family and therefore not totally avoidable because you inevitably run into that person at family events and other activities? If this is the case, you may need to do some "grinning and bearing it," because, once again, there is no way to avoid such a person completely. However, when you do see that person (as you inevitably will), what you can do is steer the conversation toward neutral, inoffensive and even somewhat dull topics (all in the name of avoiding awkwardness or other problems). When you stick to hum-drum topics like the weather or what you ate for dinner last night, the person may actually get bored and leave you alone. If the person tries to guide the conversation in a different, more upsetting direction, simply change the subject back to a neutral (or even dull) topic.

People without appropriate social boundaries do not necessarily mean any harm by their actions, but their inability to read social cues, combined with their tendency to embarrass others with their invasive behavior and pushiness can be problematic not just for them, but for everyone around them. You can make the choice to "call someone out" on their lack of healthy boundaries. But be aware that this can have any number of different consequences, some of which you might not like. You have to ask yourself, "How involved do I really want to get with this person and their lack of boundaries?" If the answer is that you really don't want to get very involved at all, then don't take such a person on as a "personal project." Instead, just steer clear of them as much as possible.

If someone has no social or emotional boundaries, there is no need for you to stay in prolonged contact with such an individual (if you are not related to them by blood or marriage). You don't have to confront the person or be mean to them if you are not confrontational by nature. But you don't have to return their phone calls either. And you don't have to answer the door if they come over unannounced. In other words, it is not your responsibility to "help" or "change" such an individual. Who knows if they want to change anyway? They may have no desire to change at all. Your only responsibility is to yourself and your own emotional health and well being. And if someone can't respect your personal boundaries, you don't own them anything.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be true to yourself above all else. People who lack healthy emotional boundaries can be very difficult to deal with, and you should not even have to deal with them if you'd rather not. Life is short, after all, so try to spend your valuable time with people who nourish your soul rather than depleting your emotional energy.

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