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Most people have a sense of what is and isn’t appropriate when it comes to respecting boundaries. However, we are bound to find individuals who don’t.

As much as we strive for healthy relationships, we inevitably encounter individuals who are bullies, toxic or just plain manipulative. Many of these people have little-to-no self-awareness and feel that they are fully entitled or appropriate in their behavior. And what’s worse is that they frequently get away with it because others don’t stand up to them. This convinces them that their behavior is acceptable. Here’s a news flash: It ISN’T.

The best thing you can do is firmly establish boundaries. You’ll feel better about yourself and your relationship. Further, you won’t have to succumb to their inappropriate behavior over and over again:

1. Know Who You Are Dealing with: The first step in this process is to identify those individuals who don’t respect your boundaries. Doing so will keep you on the look-out for times that boundaries need to be reinforced or put into place.

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2. Tune-in: Start paying attention to how these people typically break boundaries. Some questions to ask: Are they pushy? Do they ask questions you feel uncomfortable answering? Do they discuss things with you that are inappropriate? Do they disregard your wishes or needs? Do they always prioritize their needs before yours?

3. Trust Your Gut: If you aren’t sure as to whether or not a boundary is being broken, stop thinking and start feeling. Does something feel awkward, uncomfortable or wrong? Can you feel an adrenaline rush, but aren’t sure why? Do you feel nauseous during the discussion? At times, our guts have better listening skills than our ears. If you can feel a visceral reaction to the conversation at hand, you can be pretty sure that something isn’t right.

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