The Tiresome “Boundaries” Obsessions of the “Super-adults”


I really don’t like this “boundary” talk, though I suppose it’s necessary sometimes as in you need to stand up for yourself and not let people walk all over you. Mostly this strikes me as the type of “uber-adult” types for whom everything you do and say is some type of weird social violation and it doesn’t seem like you can do or say much of anything around them without screwing up and coming off like a social clod.

A lot of humor is offlimits too because it’s a “bad joke,” or a pun, or “immature,” or “an old joke they heard too many times.” It gets so tiresome. I’m not saying I want to be a permanent teenager, but way too many adults go overboard with excessive “adulting.”

The worst of all are young men in their late 20’s to early 30’s who are married, have some money, a house and a little kid or two. They are overcorrecting and going overboard in “trying to act like an adult,” and they spend most of their time remarking on how “immature” everyone else is. From not moving out at age 18 to living at your parents when you’re in college, it goes on and on. And there’s nothing they hate more than single people, especially single men. Their hatred for single men must be seen to be believed. Actually I think they are insecure.

The weird thing is as you got older into middle age, most adults relax and start to kick back and get a lot less weird about “adulting.” Middle aged people act like, “Ok I know I’m an adult. I don’t have to go around overcorrecting to try to act like one all the time.” Most middle aged people are pretty relaxed and easygoing. They tell jokes and laugh and they can talk about all sorts of subjects.

Plus it seems like you can never cut loose and have fun around these people and it’s depressing to be around them because it seems like there are 100,000 subjects you will never be able to bring up with them.

I feel like I’m in a straightjacket! Or a cage! I dislike being imprisoned in my own mind. Sorry. I get enough of that as it is from other people. Last thing I need to do is lock my own ass up in my own darned head.

Mustafa explains that this includes who is allowed in your personal space, who can touch you and how close someone can get to you, as well as what you choose to put into your body.

I hate to say it but this one bothers me. I never figured out what the right distance is to stand from others. For one thing, there are all sorts of different rules depending on where you are and who the person is. I remember my mechanic was in his car and I guess I leaned over to talk to him and he drew back. I guess I invaded his space.

Usually you can tell. If someone backs away from when and it seems like they think you’re getting too close to them, you might want to back away. Some of those rules say you have to stand 6-10 feet away from people in certain cases. Get out of here! On the other hand, you might not want to get too close to people unless they let you in. Of course at parties and bars and if you are talking up some women, you get to get in real close. You can even get in close to men in places like that.

Subtle violations of this boundary might look like pressure to drink alcohol when you’ve said you don’t want to (“Go one, one won’t hurt”) to unsolicited comments on your appearance (“You’ve lost weight since I last saw you!”).

I don’t care about this bullshit. If someone is pressuring me to do something in a good-natured, joking sort of way, I really don’t mind. I’ll probably keep turning it down anyway.

I’ve even been pressured hardcore. We used to go to nightclubs as young men and one time I had to drink from a beer bong. The two guys I was with were macho Hispanic guys and they made it clear that I had to down it or else I was a huge Goddamned pussy faggot. That kind of pressure is ok because it won’t kill you and it’s just a machisimo test, which I’m probably down for.

Oh God! What’s wrong with asking someone in the nicest possible way if they lost weight. Even with a woman, that is generally a compliment. If someone told me I’d lost weight, I’d be quite happy to hear that. It’s all in the way you say it. If you say it nicely enough, it’s usually ok.

I’m certainly not going to get “upthet” like a great big pussy faggot if someone “violates my boundaries” like this. You’re acting like a woman if you raise a hissy fit over this stuff. Real men aren’t supposed to freak out about boundary violations. You pretend you didn’t hear the person, maybe roll your eyes or frown or look dubious, ignore the person, don’t respond, etc. The whole point of being a man is to express your displeasure in this minor stuff in a subtle, coded way and expect the other person to figure it out.

Even in situations where these breaches are more annoying than damaging, remember that you are always within your right to ask someone to stop.

Geez! I can’t remember the last time I told someone to stop talking about something because it was upsetting me. I don’t get triggered and weirded out about much of anything. Everything’s up for grabs. I’m that easygoing.

If someone is being rude or an ass, I might pretend I don’t hear them or rapidly walk away from them while they are still talking, go into a room, and shut the door. Sure it’s rude to walk out on someone when they are talking like that, but if they are talking in an unpleasant or hostile way, it’s a-ok.

All this boundary crap seems like over-polite people totally overreacting to tiny little things. By the way did you know that gay men go berserk over most of this stuff. They’re fussy and picky and prissy and get “upthet” about every little thing just like an irritable woman. But they’re far worse than women because they are supercharged with testosterone, so it’s like the worst bitch on steroids. I had a gay boss once and I hope I never have another one. He was a nightmare.

Some of the hardest to maintain, emotional boundaries can look like not taking on other people’s emotional burdens (aka trauma dumping) and not engaging in triggering topics.

The trauma dumping stuff is ok, but you need to understand that I did a lot of work lately as a peer counselor and I literally dealt with people “trauma-dumping” on me for a whole hour every session, so this sort of thing is no big deal for me. On the other hand, in general, a lot of people don’t want to hear about your problems, so I’d be careful about bitching and telling your tales of tragedy to people. Plus it seems pussy to be complaining and making yourself out to be a tragic figure. That’s what a woman does!

Especially in close relationships like with family and friends, it can be awkward and difficult to express your need for some distance. Mustafa suggests helpful phrases like “I want to support you but I have too much on my plate right now” and “I don’t have the emotional capacity to talk about politics” as ways you can kindly but firmly reclaim your emotional space.

I can’t  imagine myself ever saying something that gay. “I want to support you but I have too much on my plate right now.” “I don’t have the emotional capacity to talk about politics.” That sounds so gay and homo. That’s also stuff that women say all the time, except when they’re dumping their tragedies on us, in which case we must be all ears.

The first one applies to trauma dumping and I don’t do that anyway. I never tell people about my tragic life. It doesn’t even matter if it’s tragic or not. I simply do not wish to portray my life to others (or myself) as a tragedy. For one thing, no one wants to hear it. For another, it sounds totally pussy. A woman in particular would not want to hear your tales of woe because she will think you’re a wimp.

“I don’t have the emotional capacity to talk about politics.”

Gosh I would never say anything that gay! I’m a heterosexual, dammit! I’ve never talked like that. For one, I’m not “thenthitive.” A man isn’t supposed to be “sensitive.” That’s how a woman acts. If I don’t like someone’s politics, I might start rolling my eyes or saying, “Tshhhh,” sighing, nodding my head like the person is unpleasant and boring, raising my eyebrows sarcastically, treating their politics as if it’s an absurd joke, etc. I guess it might be rude to act that way, but to me, it’s far more to act like a faggot and say

I don’t have the emotional “capathity” to talk about politics.


These can often be most apparent in the workplace, where you may have to raise issues with how someone is speaking to you, as well as what you yourself can and cannot say.

Ok, well, this is a tough one, but you still might be able to pull it off. Don’t ever confront the person! Go over their heads and talk to their superior and complain in the nicest possible way that you don’t like how they talk to you. They will usually tell the other person to tone it down or else.

However, they also come into play in other areas of our lives, such as wanting to maintain privacy.

I ought to get more assertive here, I suppose, but I don’t get a lot of rude questions like this in the first place. There are ways to shut down this sort of talk and I encourage you to use them. I am talking about when someone is attacking your life by asking questions about your personal life that implies that they don’t like the way you live or lived your life, they don’t approve, or they’re more or less calling you a loser or a failure.

Of course I get this sometimes, especially from women, but I just laugh right in their faces and don’t stop laughing until they shut up. There are other ways to shut down this sort of talk. Eye rolling, exasperated sighs, etc. I’m not the type of person who says, “I really don’t want to talk about this right now” or “Why are you asking me this crap?” I’m more liable to try to shut it down in more subtle ways.

If you’re not ready to talk about something, dislike the tone you’re being spoken to in or feel demeaned by name-calling or being dismissed, be explicit about your barriers.

I deal with this just about every day around here. I simply walk away, typically right in the midst of some other person’s conversation. I head to a door, get behind it, shut it, and lock it. This is how I recommend you deal with someone who is talking you to in a hostile, insulting, or demeaning way. It doesn’t work to try to shut them down because hostile people never admit to being hostile. They always act shocked that you’re accusing them of being hostile. It’s either an elaborate game or they truly are that clueless.

Money has long been taboo, particularly with family and friends, but amid a cost of living crisis and rising inflation, now is also the time when we’re feeling the most stretched and need to put limits in place.

Whether you’ve been invited somewhere that’s too expensive, need to ask a friend to pay you back or want to politely decline loaning someone money, try not to let any feelings of guilt or embarrassment overpower you.

The reality is that every person has different spending priorities, salaries and financial boundaries, so it’s time we all stopped being so awkward about communicating them.

I can’t believe this article is finally making some sense. In  other words, stand up for yourself and don’t let people treat you like a doormat.

We often forget how important it is to set boundaries with ourselves, too. Instead of a punishment or indication that we’ve done something wrong, it helps to see personal boundaries as practice in self-trust and confidence.

Mustafa shares that important mental boundaries include allowing ourselves to have personal thoughts, beliefs and opinions that differ from others, and being OK with others not agreeing with us.

Unbelievable. They said another thing that actually makes sense!

This is correct. It’s ok to disagree with someone. It’s ok to have our own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, even if they differ from others. I think way too many people just go along with the crowd and take up whatever opinion everybody else has so they won’t get rejected by society. Screw that. Screw society. It sucks anyway.

It’s also ok to realize that others can disagree with you. This shows indeed that you have “boundaries.” This is one of the only ways I like to use this word. People with what I call poor boundaries don’t realize that they are not a part of others and others are not a part of them. They think everyone is a part of them and vice versa. That’s false. It’s important to see yourself and everyone else as completely separate objects. If you can visualize yourself or others as being encased in plastic tubes over our bodies, that’s actually a useful mental picture. I like to tell myself:

Hell, I consider it a reason to throw a part if I can find someone who even agrees with me 51

That’s not true of course, but if you tell yourself things like that, you will learn to be ok with others not having the exact same opinions as you do.

You and that person are completely different “universes” is another way to look at it. Say to yourself,

Considering that we are all separate universes, it’s amazing we agree on anything at all!

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One thought on “The Tiresome “Boundaries” Obsessions of the “Super-adults””

  1. What is “emotional capacity” anyway? That sounds like calling dope addicts “substance abusers.”

    Gotta admit though, there is one that I’ve run into that drives me nuts, wimpy or not: people that hit you (usually on the arm or in the chest) with the back of their hand when they’re talking to you. I guess it’s just become a habit, so they don’t realize they’re doing it. It goes something like, “you know what I mean (pop!). “Hey, ain’t that a trip bro?”(pop!). I’ve gotten to where I’ve started hittin’ the motherfuckers back (not as hard with women). That catches them by surprise!

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