Surviving Betrayal: Boundaries, Not Ultimatums

When we first hear about setting boundaries regarding the behavior of another person, it is often hard to see how that differs from the same old ultimatum that got us nowhere in the past.

You do this or else.

If that ever happens again, you’ll be sorry.

What sets boundaries apart from ultimatums is that when we set a boundary, we are asking only one person to respect our boundaries: ourselves.

When we issue an ultimatum, we expect someone else to change. When we set a boundary, we challenge ourselves to change.

When we set a boundary, we decide what we can live with in the future and we decide how we will respond if confronted with that behavior again.

When we set a boundary, we don’t do it to punish someone else. We do it to protect ourselves. In setting a boundary, we may say: One more deception, one more affair, and I get out of this relationship to save myself and my sanity.

Notice that a healthy boundary can be set without ever saying the word you. Sometimes we don’t even have to express our boundaries aloud to another person, although to be fair we may want to tell others what the consequences of their actions may be. But we don’t have to do that. Because when we set a boundary we are not demanding that another person change.


From Surviving Betrayal: Hope and Help for Women Whose Partners Have Been Unfaithful * 365 Daily Meditations by Alice May

Dr. Janice Caudill is the founder and Clinical Director of McKinney Counseling & Recovery. MCR offers individual, couples, group therapy, webinars, workshops and 3-day intensives for sex addiction recovery, intimacy anorexia, intimacy deprivation and partners of sex addicts, kintsugi couple recovery intensives for wounded hearts struggling with the impact of sex addiction, infidelity, love addiction or love avoidance, intimacy anorexia, or relational traumaMCR serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Richardson, Frisco, Prosper, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and surrounding areas.

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