Boundaries and Barriers: in Relationships
by Trish Murphy
We develop many boundaries as we engage with the world and by the time we are in our late teens, these are often hardened and solid. We do not want the world to find out that we are needy so we create an exterior that says that we don’t care or we can’t be hurt. Sometimes this boundary is developed through childhoods that are full of difficulties such as bullying in schools to family difficulties or external adversities, but they are built to protect us from being hurt or discovered to be other that what we are putting out to the world.But in our teens, desire develops and it challenges these boundaries to a huge extent: the romantic desire to know someone, to be known entirely plus the sexual desire to reach out and touch another delicious human being.
Of course the rise of these desires can be terrifying because it means breaking down our barriers and all our fears of rejection and pubic shame come to the fore. But without allowing desire to take its course, we might never take the risk of opening up and thus never discover the terror and joy of letting someone under our skin. It does not always work out as desire can also cloud our intuition and our usual good judgement can be hampered by applying wonderful characteristics on our object of desire when they do not actually exist. The lesson is to take the risk, fail and try again until our judgement finally clicks with our sense of attraction. To learn to fail and not be daunted by it is a core factor of wisdom and confidence and this is worth cultivating. But do we allow our barriers and boarders to be demolished or do we find ever ingenious ways of keeping them up while appearing to be open and self-confident?
But do we allow our barriers and boarders to be demolished or do we find ever ingenious ways of keeping them up while appearing to be open and self-confident?
Porn allows for desire to be satiated without ever taking a risk. Multiple partners or casual sex can be a method of keeping any actual intimacy at bay. Bad past experiences can lead us to decide never to drop our boundaries again and we put intimacy and risk on the long finger. Often, it is only when the pain of extreme loneliness kicks in that we are willing to challenge our safety by seeking to connect with another human being.
We are all born fearless, confident and open and these natural qualities get covered over by fears, comparisons, self-criticisms and harsh comments from others.
We are all born fearless, confident and open and these natural qualities get covered over by fears, comparisons, self-criticisms and harsh comments from others. Our job is to take the risk of letting go these blocks and discovering that what is then uncovered is our natural selves. It is through our vulnerability that we actually discover the joy of getting close to someone and the pleasure to be found in intimacy. In fact, it is often through our lovers’ hands that we discover our true boundaries and outlines and it is worth letting down our barriers to experience this freedom. It may be that we have to take this risk many times but as we chip away at our defenses, we become lighter and better able to choose what is best for you.
Borders Boundaries & Mental Health is the theme of the 2018 conference. More information is available here.