Have You Crossed the Line? A List of Common Boundary Violations

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Scott Brassart

For the past three weeks, we’ve been discussing interpersonal boundaries, looking at why they are so important, misconceptions and facts, and areas of life in which we need to set them. And even with all of that information, boundaries can be confusing. Often, we find ourselves violating the boundaries of others without even realizing it or wondering if others have violated our boundaries. For this reason, I have compiled a list of common boundary violations that is especially applicable to sex, porn, and substance/sex addicts and their loved ones. Hopefully, this short list will help you better spot boundary violations – even as you continue to work toward defining what your healthy boundaries actually are.



External Boundary Violations

  • Standing too close to a person without his/her permission.
  • Touching a person without his/her permission.
  • Getting into a person’s belongings and living space (wallet, purse, mail, phone, closet, etc.) without his/her permission.
  • Listening to another person’s private conversations (real-world, phone, digital, etc.) without his/her permission.
  • Not allowing a person to have privacy or violating a person’s right to privacy.
  • Exposing others to a contagious illness.
  • Smoking around non-smokers, especially in an identified non-smoking area.
  • Engaging a person sexually without his/her permission (verbally, digitally, visually, or by physically touching).
  • Insisting on having your way sexually in the face of another person’s “no.”
  • Demanding unsafe sexual practices.
  • Exposing others to sexual experiences without their permission.
  • Sexually shaming another person.
  • Leaving pornography where others might inadvertently see it.

Internal Boundary Violations

  • By word or deed, indicating another person is worthless.
  • Raging (name-calling, yelling, screaming at another person, etc.)
  • Ridiculing another person.
  • Lying or keeping important secrets.
  • Breaking commitments.
  • Patronizing another person.
  • Attempting to control another person.
  • Giving unsolicited advice.
  • Blaming, judging, or criticizing.
  • Being sarcastic while being intimate.
  • Manipulating

Spiritual Boundary Violations

  • Forcing your spiritual or religious beliefs on another person.
  • Telling another person his/her spiritual/religious belief system is wrong.
  • Discrimination based on religious or spiritual beliefs.
  • Proselytizing to another person without his/her permission.
  • Using threats of punishment from a Higher Power to control another person’s thinking and/or behavior.


If you or someone you care about is struggling with boundary issues, help is available through our free resources website, SexandRelationshipHealing.com, our low-cost online workgroups, and our residential treatment center.