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5+ Secrets on How to Set Boundaries [Narcissists Included]

Updated: May 22

Boundaries… The word makes me cringe.

Why? Because the process of setting boundaries is NEVER a fun ordeal. The saddest part about setting boundaries is that they need to be set in almost every relationship that you have. Just like a cow needs boundaries so that they don't wander too far and get poisoned, people need boundaries so that there can be mutual respect.

Here are some consequences of not having boundaries

  • People walk all over you: When people don't know what you won't take, they will continue to test you and stretch you further and further.

  • You wind up in the wrong company: This is especially true if you are an empath. Empaths are very emotionally inclined and sensitive, so they often connect with people who like to exploit their emotions.

  • You end up feeling uncomfortable: Have you ever felt some way about some action that someone took, but because you never told them that the action made you uncomfortable, you cannot feel any way about it? Give people notice so that you can be much more comfortable and happier with your relationships.

Now that you know what boundaries are and why you need them let's talk about how to set them.

1. Practice saying "no": I am not sure when we got the idea in our collective heads that saying "No" to things is mean. The Bible says that by sparing discipline from a child (aka saying yes to everything they ask for), you end up ruining them (Proverbs 13:24). When you say "yes" to everything, you automatically ruin yourself. So, do yourself a favor and start saying no. Great ways to practice this include saying it to the mirror, saying it to your friends and family, and even writing it down.

2. Examine your relationships and write down what is bothering you.: For this, you will need a pencil and paper. Start by making three columns. In one column, please write down the person's name; in the middle, write down their relationship to you, and in the last column, write down the things that bother you about the relationship. You will want to take some time crafting this chart because it will help you continue the boundary-setting process.

Number three: Once you have created your chart, go to column number three and ask yourself a few questions

#1- have I talked to this person about this issue?

#2- is this person aware that this thing that they are doing is bothering me?

#3- Have I enabled this person to continue this behavior by not setting boundaries?

3. Have a conversation but first, write a script

So, you can skip this step. But I find that my words always come out better when I write them down before confronting a person. Writing down what you will say can also keep you on track because these conversations can tend to be very emotional. In this script, you want to begin by stating the problem and how it makes you feel. I like to use the COMPLIMENT sandwich method when having tough conversations.

The compliment sandwich goes


Complaint/main topic


The compliment sandwich does two things. Number one, it gets the person in the right mood to hear what you have to say, and Number two, it helps the person not get as angry.

Here is an excellent example of a compliment sandwich. "Hi Mary, I just want to let you know that I have appreciated all you have done to help me during postpartum. Unfortunately, I don't have enough space for all of your honey and peanut butter sandwiches, so I was hoping you could tell me before you deliver them to my house next time. I really appreciate you listening to me about this."

Having this conversation will probably go over a lot better than saying, "Mary, can you stop bringing me peanut butter and honey sandwiches? They take up too much space." The compliment sandwich is the #1 way I navigate these tough conversations.

4. Put the person on watch

So, after you have the conversation (hopefully it went well), monitor the person's behavior for a few weeks. Did things change? Or are you still having the same issue with this person violating your boundaries? At this point, if you notice that the person is putting in more effort, it is essential to affirm them by referencing the improvement. In my conversations, the biggest turnoff for a friendship or relationship is when the person tries to adhere to your boundaries, and the boundary-setter completely ignores their progress.

5. Don't be afraid to leave if there is no improvement (Set a deadline)

In the past, I have stayed in friendships for way too long without seeing any noticeable improvement after setting boundaries. At one point, a person's haphazard behavior turns into blatant disrespect. If you find yourself having to repeat these steps more times than you can count, then the relationship is not worth keeping. The purpose of setting boundaries is to make the other person aware of what they need to do to stay in your life. If they are ignoring these boundaries, then the best thing you can do is remove yourself from the friendship/relationship and see what happens.

How to set boundaries with a narcissist

I have to put a separate section for setting boundaries with narcissists because these relationships require a different level of faith and prayers. The reason is that narcissists' brains are wired differently. While most people are wired to listen to others and take accountability, most narcissists believe they are always right. Therefore, sometimes you will reach some noticeable roadblocks when you try to set boundaries with them. Here are some extra things to keep in mind as you begin to work on setting boundaries with narcissistic people.

1. Be aware of gaslighting: Gaslighting is a mean mental tactic where the narcissist will manipulate the target into believing that their reality Is wrong. They will often do this by using phrases like, "it's all your fault," "you made me do this," or "I didn't say that," or "you are crazy." If you find yourself in this situation, don't fret. Trust your intuition and calmly restate your boundary. The narcissist may not accept it, but all you need is for them to hear you, not necessarily to validate you.

2. Pick your battles:

This is one of the most important things you can do for your mental sanity. Conversations about boundaries with narcissists will almost always be a big deal and snowball into some argument. If you are always bringing up your boundaries to a narcissist (I am talking multiple times in one week), they may start to shut down whenever you come to talk to them automatically. Examples of phrases they may use when shutting down can be: "What did I do this time?" or "What do you want from me" or even "I don't want to hear what you have to say.

3. Know that the narcissist's behavior will most likely not change forever: One of the saddest things I noticed when dealing with narcissistic people is that they are experts in performing. They might change their behavior and begin to act better for a while. But almost inevitably, they will revert to their old behavior once they think that you are not paying attention.

4. Stand firm in your boundary: This is one of the best ways to deal with boundary setting in any relationship. One of the most significant ways to get disrespected is to set a clear boundary and bend it whenever you feel pressure. You will feel like a guilty douchebag the first few times that you stand up for yourself. But the important thing is that you keep restating your boundary. Once the narcissist sees that you are serious, they will stop doing the behavior.

5. Get out: If you live in an "enmeshed" situation with narcissistic family members and caregivers, I pray for you. But it is so crucial that you find a way to get away from the narcissist if you can. If you all live in the same house, you can go to the gym, go for long walks, hang out with friends a lot, take frequent naps, stay in your room or your safe space, and if you have the resources, move away. Narcissists thrive on your crappy reaction to whatever they say. Therefore, if you start avoiding them and stop responding, they lose power over you.


Setting boundaries is never a pleasant situation. But without them, you set yourself up for a life of failure, pain, and drama.

I want to take this relationship to the skies! Become a frequent flyer to get emails straight to your inbox so you never miss another post.

Your Pen pal friend,

Gabrielle Denise

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