As Teri, Tammy, and Natalie have discussed, our boundaries define the limits we need to set in our lives to protect what is most important to us. Learning healthy boundaries is such an important part of being a healthy person. One aspect of boundaries is sexual boundaries. Sexual boundaries include boundaries about your sexuality, body, who touches you intimately (or how they touch you), comments that are sexual in nature, what your level of comfortability is with sexual behaviors, and how comfortable you feel touching others. Sometimes we tend to think of sexual boundary violations as simply being coerced into sexual behaviors against our will. While this is one aspect of a sexual boundary being violated, other examples include: someone making sexual innuendos or comments that feel inappropriate, uncomfortable, or disrespectful; sexual glances or having someone look at you in a sexual way that feels uncomfortable; being sexualized or objectified in the workplace or by a friend or stranger; having a working relationship with a professional (doctor, therapist, or health care professional) who uses the intimate nature of the professional relationship to lure a client into a sexual relationship (one of the worst sexual boundary violations because you are vulnerable, and have trust in the professional who should be adhering to professional ethics and standards); having a romantic partner grab your breasts or genitals when they know it makes you uncomfortable and have asked them to stop; having a sexual partner coerce you into sexual acts that you feel uncomfortable with; or receiving sexual emails, text messages or phone calls that are inappropriate and suggestive sexually. These are only a few of the many ways our boundaries can be violated sexually.
If you find your sexual boundaries being violated, it is important that you learn ways to set healthy boundaries with the person or people who are inappropriate. If you find yourself being told repeatedly how you are inappropriate with others boundaries, it is also important that you learn healthier boundaries. Find a professional therapist who is trustworthy and has good boundaries themselves, to help you work through boundary setting. Remember that if you feel uncomfortable with something, or if you are being pushed past your limits, your boundaries are probably being violated! Learning how to protect yourself is key to being an emotionally healthy person.
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.