People will try to manipulate your boundaries, and it’s extremely useful to know how, before it happens. This way you can be prepared with a response. Often, manipulation occurs when they can’t trust us to meet their own needs out of our own free will. They have to learn that if they find healthy people, the healthy people may actually care about their needs.
Personally, I have moved boundaries for multiple reasons. One was simply a fear of losing what I thought I was getting out of the relationship and another was a fear of losing approval or respect. I also feared people’s anger, feeling at times like I was on the edge of being physically hurt. I had the sense that no one would protect me because my dad in his passivity did not protect me from my mom’s anger. Rather he would make excuses like “That’s the way she was raised.” I was also taught as a Christian to see the beauty in people but some of these messages led me to overlook negative behaviour as opposed to confronting it. I held onto their “potential” even if they weren’t taking the necessary steps to fulfill it.
I used to get sucked into pity as well. If I felt sorry for them, I was powerless to maintain boundaries. That is probably one of the biggest adjustments I have made and allows me to stay in a helping profession without losing myself. I have to be honest that I have gotten into the “silent treatment war” where it’s basically a contest to see who can use the silent treatment the longest. I actually had to laugh when I wrote that, because the immaturity is kind of ridiculous. I have also caved to ‘love bombs’ at some point and realized that I needed intense pursuit to soothe my insecurity.
If I had this information back then, things might have gone a lot differently! That’s why getting the knowledge and tools is so powerful. The thing I encourage you to do is to get a lot of support for yourself when you first start setting boundaries with difficult people. It can feel like a vulnerable time and it’s easy to give in without any help.