If I were a piece of equipment, my ‘boundaries’ would be sort of like my operating limits. If you go beyond my tolerances, I behave in unexpected/challenging ways. I don’t need you to follow these guidelines, but over a year of observation, they have predicted my behavior with astonishing accuracy.
Any of the following behaviours will lead to me avoiding you in future1:
- touching my body without my explicit verbal consent;
- obstructing me from leaving the situation;
- moving my stuff without telling me what you moved and where it is now;
- using gendered language when speaking about me in the third person;
Insistence in any of the following modes of speech2 will lead to a collapse in civilised verbal communication:
- blaming your (or anyone else’s) thoughts, feelings or actions on me;
- speaking on behalf of society or any individual or group who hasn’t/haven’t asked you to speak to me on their behalf;
- Arguing, disagreeing3 or attempting to coerce/persuade me;
- Making oneself an authority on any aspect of my identity or lived experience.4
Unexpected/challenging behaviour can be reliably avoided with a sincere, formal agreement not to do/say any of the above. Agreeing doesn’t mean you will not make mistakes, but establishes breaches of agreement as your error to correct, and not mine.
- My earlier expression of boundaries. The actual guidelines haven’t changed, but it was written before I became more comfortable with my unexpected behaviour.
- How to do Boundaries
you may not notice anything - I just won’t be there ↩
how to communicate effectively without these is an article for another time, but in the meantime you can always ask me “how can I express x without doing y?”. ↩
i.e. making a statement that contradicts what I said. “I disagree” is ironically not disagreement. ↩
e.g. telling me what I am or what my experience is ↩