Melanie Sykes Boundaries shot by Sam Hemsley

Encouraging You to Make Your Personal Boundaries Clear…

Just recently, I have had to explicitly tell people to back off and when I say people, I mean men. Men who do not understand boundaries need to be reminded. It hasn’t been heavy, I have just found myself in situations where I didn’t feel comfortable and I don’t like feeling uncomfortable. Life is too short.

When someone crosses my boundaries, I know in my gut, my hackles go up and I feel angry. These are basic human reactions and I do not ignore them. Yes, historically, when I was much younger, I tolerated more on all levels, but at this stage in my life, I have no qualms about pulling people up on it. And again, when I say people, I mean men.

Ok, so you’ll want examples, which is hard because I don’t want to ‘out’ individuals, but it has been men who are colleagues, not friends. They have commented in detail about the way I look or am dressed, and I feel their opinion is not necessary or appropriate. It has made me feel self conscious and awkward. I have let it slide the first time, but not the second. I just thought, I could either continue to let it happen and hate it, or just tell them. So I chose the latter. This was met with apologies and I’m pretty sure it won’t happen again.

There are some men who take every opportunity to touch me when communicating, and again, I have calmly and clearly stated that I would like them to stop doing it. So far this has been fine and to be honest it hasn’t affected the relationship thereafter, though if it had, well, it’s ‘sayonara’. Nowadays, it’s on my terms and feel good about that.

We all have our physical boundaries too, the bubble around ourselves that we don’t want invading. I know a photographer who I always have to take a step back from, only for him to move a step forward. This will go on and on, whilst looking like we’re doing a dance, yet he never sees it.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine, who lives in Spain, and she has an issue with all the kissing that people do there when greeting. Sometimes it’s one kiss on each cheek, sometimes it’s three times. It can be complete strangers being introduced by friends, or even waiters in restaurants. Her solution is to quickly offer her hand to shake, but sometimes, and I have tried this, it gives some people leverage to pull you in for a kiss. FFS!

I’m sure this happens to lots of us and what I want to say on the matter is that your instincts are good and strong. Do not ignore them. I’m not saying it’s easy, it takes some strength and chutzpah to say what’s on your mind. However, you are entitled to state your boundaries, so do it, and save yourself from a whole heap of irritation.

You and your life deserve it.

*Boundaries shot taken by my wonderful friend and photographer Samantha Hemsley.