Boundaries have been a useful concept in relationship psychology for some time. They create a barrier to keep unwanted people out of your personal space. (See upper diagram.) The circle represents the boundary that keeps other people away from the person or "P".
Parameters define the relationship or the interaction. They create "ground rules" for the relationship or interaction. They say when we interact you can go here, but you cannot go there. (See lower diagram.) The area inside the curved lines represents within the parameters of the interaction. The two people or "P's" have an unobstructed, open space to interact. The area outside the curves lines is outside of the parameters of the interaction and the person that you are relating to is not permitted to go there.
Boundaries are defensive- they create a wall that removes the threat and keeps us safe. Parameters are engaging- they create an arena for us to interact in.
Boundaries are negative and exclusive- they say how cannot relate to me. This typically shuts down interaction.
Parameters are positive and inclusive- they say how you can relate to me. This typically encourages interaction.
Boundaries are rigid and "all or nothing"- you are either in or out.
Parameters are flexible and adjustable. They can be made narrower or wider- but there is always some area that we can connect.
Boundaries are "I" centered- they say whether or not you can relate to me.
Parameters are "We" centered- they say how we can relate to each other.
Boundaries define individuals.
Parameters define relationships.
Which do you prefer?
About the Author
I, Michael Hoffman, am a licensed psychotherapist, teacher, and author with 25 years experience in counseling and teaching experiential workshops. I have maintained this blog since 2009, and my second book Natural Way of Being will published in 2019.
I offer in-person and video-conferencing counseling, intensive workshops, and online courses to allow participants to directly experience their natural way of being and the life they would have for themselves.