Barriers and Boundaries


Emotional barriers and boundaries – what are they and what’s the difference?


Emotional barriers and boundaries are both invisible walls or blocks that are placed between us and another person.

That person could be a family member, a work-colleague, a friend or a romantic partner.

One is very positive, the other is not.

I’ll breakdown both to give you an understanding of the difference.

First – emotional barriers:-

When someone has emotional barriers, they have an invisible guard or wall up that prevents them from being completely open with you.

This guard may be conscious or unconsciously placed.

It prevents them from being fully mentally/emotionally engaged, vulnerable or trusting of you.

In our intimate life, if we want our relationships to thrive, we BOTH have to be open and trusting with each other.

This is nigh on impossible with emotional barriers in place.


Emotional barriers are always driven by fear.

They are often erected because of:-

  • Past emotional wounds from our childhood
  • Negative experiences in previous relationships
  • Fear of rejection.


Many times, it’s all three.

Your background plays a HUGE role in how you perceive something.

Without prior healing, you’ll view every interaction and event through the lens of your past.

We are all massively influenced by our backgrounds – we’re never a complete blank canvas.

The more challenging the background, the more likely there could be emotional barriers, and that will usually make present-day communication challenging too.

These barriers will create difficulties and escalate problems.

They’ll often distort how other’s words or actions are perceived, so they’ll trigger responses that are inappropriate or unproductive.

People with troubled backgrounds have such a fear of being hurt or rejected again they often remain very closed off – sometimes without even realising it.

This applies to all their relationships, but especially their romantic ones – that kind of connection requires a deeper level of interest than just a social connection or friendship.

When barriers are present it can prohibit the person from building a truly deep connection with anyone.

That person is essentially emotionally unavailable.

Emotionally unavailable people tend to be more guarded and standoffish.

In their present state, they are unable to fully form a secure attachment with someone else.

This can create doubt and mistrust between both parties.

The emotionally available person in the relationship will feel shut out and as if their emotional/sexual intimacy needs are not being met.

People who have their walls up often find it excruciating to talk about their emotions and can also be very uncomfortable when their partner expresses them.

They don’t like to allow their partner to see the real them, so they remain distant, aloof and disconnected.

They can tend to be more critical and judgemental of others.

They don’t want to put themselves out there in a vulnerable way, so they tend to focus harshly on others.

Other examples of barriers include not initiating sex, hugging, kissing or any other type of physical intimacy.

Conversely, the emotionally unavailable person can be physically very expressive, as it’s easier than opening up verbally.

They do really want Love, but they just find the whole thing difficult.

Emotional barriers are pure Lonely territory.

Lonelies are NOT bad people, they just have some healing to do.

They need to learn to trust again

And then the barriers can come down.

People with emotional barriers are difficult to be in relationships with, especially if you’re a highly sensitive, deep-feeling Lovely, so please, please be careful.


Now emotional boundaries:-


Unlike barriers, emotional boundaries are a very good thing – a necessary thing.

Healthy boundaries are crucial in helping us to enjoy happy, committed long term relationships.

They allow both sides to feel comfortable and know where they stand.

Boundaries are our own invisible force-field, so we need to be in charge of protecting them.

Physical boundaries relate to our personal space, body, and sense of privacy.

Emotional (or personal) boundaries relate to separating our feelings from the other person’s feelings.

We can have boundaries relating to all kinds of things, they are very personal to us.

We set them to help protect ourselves from being manipulated, overwhelmed or taken advantage of.

They are the limit of the behaviour that we’ll accept.

In short, they help us to respect ourselves.

A healthy boundary involves knowing and affirming what’s important to us and speaking up when we feel it’s been crossed or we’ve been disrespected.

They stop others from overriding our feelings and desires and protect us from being engulfed in abusive relationships.

Our boundaries must be specific and clear and we MUST follow through on them.

Weak or wobbly boundaries will easily be crossed or ignored.

We must never give an abusive partner or friend the opportunity to overstep our boundaries.

Yes, we can compromise reasonably, but not too often, or we could become a doormat.


We must be self-aware.

We need to become aware of what is comfortable, what is uncomfortable and what is crossing the line.

A truly successful friendship/relationship is only possible when two individuals have a clearly defined sense of their own identity.

We need to discuss our boundaries – we can’t expect our partners/friends to just know them.

Passive or no communication will only cause confusion.


The way we usually find out where our boundaries are is when they’ve been crossed.

The best way to describe this is when you have that feeling of hmphh (imagine me pulling an indignant face).

It’s when something inside you says you cheeky so and so. It’s an actual visceral feeling.

That’s what crossing a boundary feels like.

Listen to your body. It knows. Trust those signals.

At this point you must articulate that you’re unhappy or hurt or a bit put-out by what’s just been said or done (or not done) and you must do it assertively.

You can be assertive and still quite gentle – I am. But I still let the other person know.

If you’re too passive and say nothing that person may not be aware, and possibly won’t care that they’ve upset/irritated/inconvenienced you, so they’ll do it again.

If you’re too aggressive and bite their head off, because you’re so sick of this happening, you’ll probably end up with an argument that will resolve nothing.

If you’re passive-aggressive and sulk, pout or clam up but say nothing, you’ll also get nowhere – you’ll just create a bad atmosphere for everyone concerned.

It has to be assertive communication all the way.

If people constantly cross your boundaries, it’s going to lead to a lot of resentment and unhappiness.

You must be able to express your wants and needs, just like the other person, so that your relationship can be balanced.

If you’ve never created boundaries in your life, it can feel scary or weird. This is just how I felt initially.

You must have a strong enough sense of self to protect your own needs.

I know this isn’t easy for most people.

People who grow up in dysfunctional families really struggle to uphold boundaries, because they generally weren’t allowed to have any.

Don’t cross your own boundaries by always saying yes or ignoring bad behaviour.

That’s never going to resolve an issue.

You must speak up.

You must honour yourself.

Boundaries are like a muscle, the more we use them, the stronger they get.

It takes practice.

Saying no is not rejecting the person, just the behaviour.

When you’re honest and respect yourself, other people respect you more too.

Toxic people will realise you’re no longer playing their game.

They’ll either improve their behaviour or they’ll leave.

Either way, you benefit.


When both parties are clear about their rules, goals and expectations relationships thrive.

Never assume the other person’s feelings. Always ask about their wants and wishes.

Assuming makes an ass out of u and me!

Be as clear about your love as you are about your boundaries – both are equally important in a relationship/friendship.


However you’ve been in the past, it’s time to draw a line in the sand.

It’s time to Love and honour yourself.

Even if you’ve not be great in the past every day is a fresh new start.

Forgive yourself and move forward. You can do it.

Release those old ideas about what you deserve.

You deserve Love, respect and to be happy.

If you’d like some help in navigating personal boundaries or barriers then book a call.

Much Love

Christina xx