It is my personal opinion that people get along better when they give each other privacy. As an American, the idea of “personal space,” or your “personal bubble,” exists for a reason. Unfortunately, I have been known to end friendships because people did not understand how important boundaries are to me. Just because you know someone in one setting does not mean that you automatically have access to every other part of his or her life. Since I am always surrounded by people, the idea of private space is a very important one. I have to have some sort of physical or mental space that exists only for me and the chosen few that I have deemed acceptable. Then again, I am a peculiar case.
For many Americans—especially those who are willing to show casual guests around their homes—maybe privacy is not such a concern, but as I have said, I do not fall into that category. Even when I let people into my room or get close to me, I have not let my boundaries or barriers down. If anything, in those circumstances, I create a larger psychological space. This is probably why I have “friends” who say they have no idea what is going on inside my head—despite the fact that we hang out often (which I actually believe is common among lots of friends). For those who I have allowed into my private space, they can usually understand my thoughts with one look, even if I don’t change my facial expression.
If everyone was meant to know everything about everyone else, there would be no need for secrets. And, we’d probably have telepathy to make it happen (though there would be some great benefits to such a power, I’m sure). However, I think it is the very fact that we have boundaries that makes it possible to truly become closer to someone else. If there were never any boundaries, you could never really be sure how close you are to that other person. On the other hand, if there are boundaries, and slowly that person lets you inside their private space, you understand that that person now trusts you by giving you access to some of their privacy.
To get a better understanding, let’s paint a more visual picture. If I were in a restaurant with friends from work, and I saw another friend from my schooldays walk in, I would not invite that person to join us. For one, I think that it would be rude to my work friends to invite a stranger (to them) to come sit with us—especially with it being a private affair for our group. It might also be awkward for my school friend to be surrounded by people with whom he or she is unfamiliar. In that situation, the only one who would be completely comfortable would be me because I know both parties. Instead of inviting the friend over, I would excuse myself for a moment so that I could greet my school friend and make plans with him or her for another day to catch up. After that, I would continue on with my night with my work friends, since we had already made the current plans.
In such a case, maybe there are some who might say relaxed boundaries are better. Why not just check with the group to see if it’s okay to invite the friend over? And you know what? That may very well be a possibility for other people. To them, I say, “To each his own.” Me, I don’t mind keeping the different parts of my life separate. Makes my privacy easier to manage (plus, I’m not a huge fan of “sharing” friends with others). But this is just a lesson I learned on the journey.
What do you think?
Is it more important to let people in, or, is having boundaries necessary for a stable relationship (romantic or otherwise)?