It’s Time to Take Inventory of Your Personal Boundaries
In matters of love, it’s important to know the difference between boundaries and walls
Ayesha Faines is ZORA’s newest Sex & Relationships columnist. You’ll be hearing from her on a biweekly basis.
I’ll never forget the woman who asked me how she could open herself to love again.
I was speaking on a panel in Brooklyn, and I can still picture the vacant look in her eyes. She said that after multiple heartbreaks, she felt she’d become invisible. The few men who did approach her all seemed to have bad intentions. So, every time a man hurt her, as I came to understand it, she raised her guard until she became a prisoner, trapped in the invisible fortress of her own making.
She felt invisible because that’s what walls do. They hide us. They isolate us from connection and community, and, as was her case, they don’t even keep people out. If anything, they invite the wrong people in, people with the clever ability to scale high walls by identifying your emotional voids and lowering your defenses. I like to call these predators “emotional cat burglars.” When we’re worried about being hurt, we naturally keep people at a distance — even deterring those with good intentions.
Since the biblical days of Jericho, walls have sated our fundamental human need for security, but they provide a false sense of security at best.
We erect these walls, barriers to our heart, for protection, but instead they make us prisoners of our past. Walls imprison you with the same anger, shame, and fear that caused you to build them in the first place. And while they may serve as a deterrent, they actually broadcast your fear, not your strength. Walls tell the world that you are in hiding, terrified of being hurt.
Every interaction, no matter how fleeting, requires implicit boundaries, but in relationships specifically, boundaries are the conditions we place on our love and affection.
As I explained to the woman who felt invisible, there’s a big difference between a boundary…