In a completely different context, I wrote about the difference between threats and boundaries.
At that time, there was a group of people who saw my boundaries as being threats. I think my distinction still holds.
More to the point, I think this distinction holds when you’re talking about the difference between boundaries and rules. Boundaries are all about power over your own decisions. Rules are about power over other people’s decisions.
Sometimes boundaries can seem like rules. “I am not willing to be in a relationship with someone who lies about their sexual partners”, for an example, could be taken as a rule about someone else’s behavior.
But that’d be wrong.
A boundary like the one above only states what you are willing to do. The other person can do whatever they like. You’re simply controlling your own body and destiny.
Intent matters here (more on this later this week). If you state something wanting to control another’s behavior, it’s a rule. If you state something about how you will conduct yourself, it’s a boundary.
Rules – and really, anything wanting to try to control another – tend to fail. Boundaries, on the other hand, are something that only you control whether they stay firm or not.