Everyone has boundaries. Boundaries are a significant part of building relationships and friendships, and they show respect to acquaintances and strangers. For me, acknowledging boundaries is a way of getting to know someone and starting a healthy relationship.
Setting boundaries and being supportive of your friends’ boundaries is an important part of a friendship. By acknowledging a friend’s boundaries, you can demonstrate that you are a trustworthy person they can depend on. You can also create trust by doing simple things like asking about their day or about their mental health. You can limit the amount of things said about personal topics to other people. For example, when talking about a sensitive subject that you might not be comfortable with, it's important to communicate that to them. Another example is to honor a friend’s decision and support it instead of questioning it when being asked not to talk about a sensitive topic to other people.
Another significant aspect to consider when setting boundaries with friends is within social media. Social media plays a big role in today’s friendships and can be a great way to enhance those friendships if it is used with respect. An example of boundary setting on social media is communicating that you may be uncomfortable with your picture being posted without your permission for reasons like: you might not be looking your best or you just don't want to be on a specific platform. Always get consent first.
When it comes to people in public or outside of school, it's important to make your boundaries clear. During this time of the pandemic, going out and respecting other people’s personal space is a major part of keeping yourself and others safe. People may stand a bit too close in a store and you ask them to step back. Staying six feet away from someone is something you should already know and respect so that you don't overstep personal space. Strangers' boundaries might not be something that you always acknowledge or are aware of, but everyone has boundaries and it's important to respect them.
Setting boundaries in romantic relationships is always important, especially for teens. A young person who is eager to please can be pressured into giving consent even when they are uncomfortable. Consent should never be pressured or forced. If your partner asks to take anything further in the relationship, you should be able to answer with a simple “no” without your boundaries being questioned. Ultimately, consent is not something that should be ignored or turned down, and a person’s decisions should always be respected.
Understanding boundaries shows people that you are somebody that they can be comfortable around knowing that their boundaries are supported. When building any type of relationship your boundaries are just as important to communicate to other people. Be aware that not everyone has the same boundaries as you do. Being open to listening to other people’s boundaries could bring up many opportunities for a closer bond.
This blog is part of a series developed through the Teen Talk Writing Internship. The internship was carried out remotely during early 2021 with a group of high school students who have participated in the Teen Talk High School sexual education course. The ultimate goal of the group was to build connections between students as they worked together to exercise their writing and health advocacy skills.