What do you do when you feel like your personal boundaries are being violated?
I was recently caught in this situation. I had certain needs and expectations and they were repeatedly bumping up against the needs and expectations of another. I felt like my personal boundaries were being violated. They weren't being violated a lot each time that they were violated, but they were being violated frequently. It was making me irritated.
Picture yourself on a bus which is not crowded. A person comes and stands right beside you, with full body contact. You move over. The person moves over to again stand right beside you, full body contact. You move again. And the person comes to you again. That's how it felt on an invisible level.
Had it been someone with whom I am close, like my husband, I would have said something. Had it been a co-worker with whom I had regular contact, I would have said something. Where the relationship is important, the need to work together going forward is strong, the benefit would outweigh the cost of the difficult conversation. It might not even be that difficult a conversation, if we were both able to remember the best in each other throughout and refrain from being triggered.
Had it been someone with whom I have little or no relationship, I probably would have said something. Again, the benefit would likely outweigh the cost. If there is no relationship to lose, and the gain is that this person might refrain from this behavior in my presence, that's an OK trade off.
This person, though, was in the tenuous realm of someone I will see from time to time but not frequently. We don't have to work together on a regular basis. We don't have to see each other on a regular basis. However, we do have a tenous relationship. If I said something, I might jeopardize the relationship for others as well as myself. If I said something, I might have to spend a lot of time repairing a relationship that wasn't much of a relationship to me at all. When I did a cost-benefit analysis of having a frank discussion about boundaries with this person, the potential cost outweighed the potential benefit.
And so I tap danced.
I am a proponent of full, frank discussions to move through conflict.
I am also a proponent of picking your battles.
When you are feeling triggered by someone, look at the cost and the benefit of having a full, frank discussion about it. Then choose accordingly. Sometimes, you'll need to have the discussion. At other times, you'll need to tap dance.