Types of Personal Boundary

Psychological boundaries can be soft, spongy, rigid or flexible.

There are two categories of personal boundary, physical and psychological. These guidelines focus primarily on psychological boundaries.

Psychological boundaries fall into four categories:

A person with soft boundaries merges with other people's boundaries. Someone with a soft boundary is easily manipulated.
A person with spongy boundaries is like a combination of having soft and rigid boundaries. They permit less emotional contagion than soft boundaries but more than rigid. People with spongy boundaries are unsure what to let in and what to keep out.

A person with rigid boundaries is closed or walled off so nobody can get close to them, either physically or emotionally. This is often the case if someone has been physically, emotionally or psychologically abused. Rigid boundaries can be dependent on time, place or circumstances, and are usually based on a bad previous experience in a similar situation.


This is the ideal. Similar to selective rigid boundaries but the person has more control. The person decides what to let in and what to keep out, is resistant to emotional contagion and manipulation, and is difficult to exploit.