Boundary Issues

The other day, someone extended an open invitation to their home. That happens pretty frequently here. And people mean it.

The polite thing is to return the courtesy. “Drop in whenever!” But I can’t. So I always feel awkward when this happens.

I grew up in a house with that sort of policy. It didn’t help that Dad’s office was right next door, with a sign directing anyone who stopped by outside of business hours to come on over. Dad never had any separation between his personal and professional life, and he really never understood the concept of a day off.

So I’m used to a gaping open door policy, and I even learned to enjoy it because the alternative was significantly less fun.

My husband did not grow up that way. He is perhaps one of the most extreme introverts I know, though you’ll never know it to meet him. Being social is draining to the point that a random, unannounced visit can leave him on edge for hours.

If you ever extend an open invitation for one or both of us to visit, please don’t be offended when we can’t reciprocate in the same way. (And if you are? Oh, well. Can’t help you there.)

I, on the other hand, am a much more socially inclined type of person. I hover on the introvert/extrovert border with whatever mood-of-the-moment pushing me to one side or the other. Sometimes I thrive on human interaction. Sometimes the thought makes me want to run and hide in a dark corner. And my husband occasionally voices his concern that he is limiting me in some way, because we are mindful of who visits when.

This fear is far from the truth, but until recently, I couldn’t  articulate why I’m content with something so different-to-me. And it comes down to a respect of boundaries.

I have an easier time respecting his boundaries than my own. But in the partnership we share, some of his become ours and the whole process has taught me how to better identify, respect, and defend mine.

This still feels like a novel concept to me.  When I graduated college, I fled first to the other side of the planet, then settled for just the other side of the continent in an effort to establish my independence. It helped a lot, but moving back home made me lose sight of that for a while.

Thanks to my husband, I am every-so-slowly relearning.

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