Healthy Boundaries for Teens

What are Boundaries?

Setting boundaries is an important part of any relationship. To have the healthiest relationship, both partners should know each other’s wants, goals, fears, and personal limits. Each person should feel comfortable communicating their honest needs without being afraid of what the other person might do in response. If a partner does not respect those needs, or goes against what the other person is comfortable with to a point where they don’t feel safe, that’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship and crossing personal boundary lines.

  • Emotional Boundaries 
    Choosing what to share when ready | Spending time apart | Allowing others to feel upset without needing to “fix” the situation  in some way.
  • Physical Boundaries
    Self-Care | Greetings and interactions | Personal body space
  • Digital Boundaries
    Posting relationship status or personal details | Using each other’s devices | Sharing passwords

Examples of Healthy Boundaries

  • Respect Each Other
    Be respectful by asking what the other person what it is they want to do and by not trying to control one another. Show you care for each other by truly listening and sharing thoughts and feelings.
  • Have Common Interests
    In order to do so, first you should understand yourself and the personal goals or values you have for your life but, at the same time, try to do things that the other person enjoys as well.
  • Stand Up for Yourself
    If someone crosses a boundary of yours– whether it’s once, twice, or repeatedly and it’s something you’re not comfortable–then, be affirmative and assertive that you wont tolerate being treated in that particular way.
  • Have a Personal Life
    Outside of the relationship, each person should feel free enough to have their own friends and interests. Make sure you keep up with schoolwork, friends, and other activities you’re interested in.
  • Settle Disagreements Peacefully
    It is only natural for people to disagree. The important thing is trying to reach an agreement with a good attitude– whether its about movies, music, favorite sports, or even where you want to go or what you decide to do together.

Examples of Unhealthy Boundaries

  • Putting yourself down
    Feeling lower or thinking less of yourself because of someone else’s opinion may indicate an unhealthy friendship/relationship.
  • Controlling behavior
    A  little bit of jealousy is normal, but too much jealousy can turn into needing to know where each person is at all times while also not allowing time with other friends.
  • Pressured into giving in
    Saying “if you really cared” or “I would do it for you” shows someone does not respect boundaries.
  • Letting others determine who you should be
    Controlling what to wear or how to act is an example of an unhealthy boundary.
  • Trying to change someone else
    One person tells the other, “its my way or no way”
  • Being held back
  • Someone doesn’t want the other to succeed, or are made to feel guilty about doing things that interest them.
  • Making excuses or being blamed for the other person’s problems

Crossing the Line

Verbal Abuse
It takes honest conversation to work things out–insulting, name-calling, or manipulating a partner indicate verbal abuse in a relationship.

Physical Abuse
Pushing, shoving, hitting, or kicking in anger are all signs that physical abuse in a relationship has gone too far.  Seek advice from trusted adults, counselors, or coaches to help separate.

Controlling Behavior or Forced Sex
Someone who exhibits controlling behavior may also isolate his/her partner from friends, restrict the partner’s involvement in extracurricular activities, or require knowledge about significant other’s whereabouts at all times.

Threats Receiving explicit threats or fearing impending physical/verbal abuse indicates unhealthy boundaries in a relationship.

Blame or Shame
Making excuses for your partners behavior, and blaming yourself for being mistreated only keeps you in an unhealthy relationship.

Digital Privacy
Controlling one another’s social media accounts by insisting to have access is a form of digital abuse

Photos & Sexting
Someone who tries to demand, manipulate, coerce, or even threaten with sending or forwarding a sext could face criminal charges.

Having nudes online is scary, but there is hope to get it taken down.

This service is one step you can take to help remove online nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photos and videos taken before you were 18.

Click image to download PDF

What is Take It Down?

Take It Down is a free service that can help you remove or stop the online sharing of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit images or videos taken of you when you were under 18 years old. You can remain anonymous while using the service and you won’t have to send your images or videos to anyone. Take It Down will work on public or unencrypted online platforms that have agreed to participate.

It’s scary when this happens to you, but it can happen to anyone. You’ve taken the first step, and we’re here to help you with the next steps. Take It Down is a service provided by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.



Love is Respect works to empower youth to prevent and end dating abuse. Features Online Chat 24/7/365, hotline number, and text line.

Common Sense Media Helps families  make smart media choices, and offer the largest, most trusted library of  independent age-based and educational rating and review for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites,  books, and music.

Break the Cycle inspires and supports young people to build healthy relationships and create a culture without abuse. Learn warning signs, legal protection, and research.