Boundaries vs Control

The difference between attempting to control another and setting a boundary is whether the focus is on the other person (control) or on you (boundary).


If my partner becomes unpleasant to be around when he or she drinks, I focus on the impact that their drinking has on me and I address that in my boundary statement.

Instead of saying: I want you to stop drinking.

I say:  I don’t like to be around you when you are drinking.  

I might go on to say:  If you decide to drink, I will not want to spend time with you while you are under the influence, so don’t come to see me until you have sobered up.


If my partner has a problem  with infidelity, I can only focus on what I want and need in a relationship.

Instead of saying: I want you to stop sleeping with other people.  

I say:  I want to be in a monogamous relationship.  

I might go on to say:  If you continue sleeping with other people, I will, by definition, be unable to have a monogamous relationship with you, and therefore, I will end the relationship.


NOTE:  Fundamental to the concept of boundaries is the fact that we all have choices.  When you set a boundary, there will be consequences for you as well as for the other party. The other party may choose not to honor your boundaries.  Think carefully about the bottom-line statement you make concerning your boundary, because you must be willing to follow through on what you say you will do.