As a newborn you might not have a sense of difference from the outside world. Everything is part of you. You may not have known the difference between you and your mother. Only after few months that distinction starts to appear. That is the first sense of being a separate person from others. You and mother. Then the list increases. You try seeing connection between people of same gender. If you have noticed some children go and call someone else as father just because he is a male. The realization that they are outsider and separate from your parents appear only later. That is when you start seeing children cry when they see strangers, have separation anxiety.
The sense of me and others. People I know and care as in group and others out group occurs after the toddlerhood. This is the basic tribalistic mentality. We all have it, it doesn’t make us primitive it makes us just evolutionarily tuned. The sense of boundary is inbuilt and individual for each person.
Everyone has a personal boundary and it is not just limited for human beings. Many species are territorial. Similarly we human beings have what we call the psychological boundary. A distance we consider less violated emotionally and mentally. The need to feel emotionally safe has to do with maintaining this personal boundary. It is a boundary within which we feel safe to be ourselves, allow our vulnerable aspects exposed.
Our personal boundary affects our functioning and our relationships. If you have no sense of boundary in a relationship it will be hard to understand yourself and to differentiate yours and others problems. You absorb in others’ emotions as well and wonder why you feel what you feel. Usually people who had a childhood were parent was over-involved or you were rejected and you try to cling to others for feeling of safety you may tend to not understand where your boundary ends and where other person’s starts. You may have observed some people tag with others wherever they go and sometimes don’t have an opinion of their own. They tend to have difficulty knowing their preferences and tend to have belief systems in shaky ground. Here the growth of the person as an individual is somewhat stunted or depends on how the other person pushes. If the other person is abusive or dysfunctional it will affect the functioning of this person. If the other person leaves this person can break. Being over-dependent on others can affect your stability and functioning.
Now let us look at the other end. You need more personal space than others. The gap between your boundary and another is usually more than the normally observed it indicates that you have a very tight and closed boundary. Some people come as closed off because at some point in their life time it has hurt emotionally or even sometimes physically by others. Maybe an abusive parent. Being vulnerable might have cost them their emotional stability and still may carry the emotional wound. They are afraid to be open and expressive. They are afraid to show their weakness and be vulnerable. We can’t blame them for their defensive response but it is their choice whether they want a functional and warm relationship. Being vulnerable and open is sometimes necessary to know if a relationship works for you or not whatever it maybe. In a relationship it is essential to have a basic understanding of the other person in order to relate better. If we are closed the other person may not be able to relate better because they don’t know you better. It is a choice of what you want and it needs to be a brave one to open. It has its merits.
Relationships is a wide topic. I intend to make a series of this if you are interested.