Boundary Intelligence

This is a two-part discussion on the concept of boundaries.  For this week, review the Boundary Style Questionnaire.  You may either take the assessment in full and calculate your scores or peruse the questions to get an idea of where you may fall on the dimensions constituting boundaries.  There is a brief score interpretation below. For a more comprehensive score interpretation: Boundary Issues: Using Boundary Intelligence to Get the Intimacy You Want and the Independence You Need in Life, Love, and Work (2005) Jane Adams, PhD.  Other boundary assessments can be found online from authors like: Teri Cole and Marc Micozzi.  

The Boundary Style Questionnaire (Adams, Jane 2005)

For all 50 questions assign points for your answers:  0 = never; 1 = sometimes; 2 = often; 3 = always

Inner Boundaries  

  1. I don’t know whether I am thinking or feeling
  2. I like to have beautiful experiences without analyzing them.
  3. I feel connected to a divine presence. 
  4. I lose track of what time it is.
  5. The past is very present in my thoughts.
  6. I feel older or younger than I am.
  7. I fantasize and daydream.
  8. When I read a book or see a movie, I can get so caught up that it’s hard to get back to reality.
  9. My feelings are easily hurt.
  10. If I have a problem, I reason my way through it logically and analytically.

Total _____

Intimate Boundaries

  1. I get so involved with my partner’s problems that I lose sight of my own feelings.
  2. I can and do tell my partner whatever I think or feel.
  3. How my partner feels about me affects how I feel about myself.
  4. Conflict with my partner is hard on me emotionally.
  5. When my partner is angry or upset with me, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else.
  6. When my partner describes a problem, I can analyze what (s)he’s saying without becoming emotionally involved.
  7. When my partner is angry with someone, I get angry with her/him also.
  8. After a fight with my partner I replay it in my head.
  9. I think about my partner’s problems even when they have nothing to do with me and we’re not together.
  10. I always know who I am and who my partner is in our relationship – I don’t confuse the two.

Total _____ 

Interpersonal Boundaries

  1. Tact and consideration are more important between people than directness and candor.
  2. Conflict with others makes me anxious.
  3. I feel hurt when others don’t understand me.
  4. What others think about me affects how I feel about myself.
  5. I tend to keep my distance until I know that I can trust others.
  6. I am a very open person.
  7. I say what I think to people even if I don’t know them well.
  8. My friends think they know me but they really don’t.
  9. I’m usually the one who compromises in a disagreement.
  10. When something happens to someone I know or know about, it’s almost as if it happened to me.

Total _____

To determine your Boundary Permeability, add your Inner, Intimate, and Interpersonal scores and divide by 3 for your average score.

Average Score: _____

Boundary Complexity

  1. I have different friends for different purposes and/or occasions.
  2. I leave the door open even after a relationship has ended.
  3. I prefer to have everything spelled out and know exactly where things stand between us in all my relationships.
  4. I can feel close to someone who doesn’t accept all of me.
  5. I find it difficult to work with people that I do not like or respect.
  6. There are parts of my friends that I cannot understand or accept.
  7. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason, or doing the wrong thing for the right reason, is morally acceptable.
  8. I’m responsible for my part in a relationship but not for the relationship itself.
  9. The more equally people share private or personal information, the better their relationship is.
  10. Underneath it all, people are pretty much the same.

Total _____

Boundary Flexibility

  1. My standards and principles don’t change regardless of the person or situation.
  2. I’m not greatly affected by other people’s moods or feelings –I can tune them out when I want or need to.
  3. I can be very close to someone in one way and very distant or disconnected from her/him in other ways.
  4. I choose who influences me, and how much, based on what I know about myself and what I think and feel about her/him.
  5. I don’t tell people about myself unless they ask directly.
  6. I rely on feedback from others to regulate what I say and do.
  7. I don’t like to reveal much about myself and I don’t want to know too much about other people.
  8. It’s hard to be around people who are in a good mood when I feel low or depressed.
  9. With people I trust, I’m very open; with those I don’t, I’m very careful about what I say or do.
  10. There are certain lines I won’t let anyone cross; if they do, that’s it for us.

Total _____

Scoring the Boundary Style Questionnaire

Write down your quiz scores in the spaces below:

Inner Boundaries: _____

Intimate Boundaries: _____

Interpersonal Boundaries: _____

Total Permeability Score: _____

Average Permeability Score: _____

0 – 10 = Low Permeability

11 – 20- = Medium Permeability

21 – 30 = High Permeability

Complexity Score: ____

0 – 15 = Low Complexity

16 – 30 = High Complexity

Flexibility Score: ____

0 – 10 = Low Flexibility

11 – 20 = Medium Flexibility

21 – 30 = High Flexibility

What Scores Mean

High Permeability: More Connected than Separate

        • “There are many voices inside me clamoring to be heard.”
        • “Our two hearts beat as one.”
        • “Others are important to my sense of self.”

Qualities that describe people with high permeability:

Sensitive    Empathetic Imaginative  Spontaneous     Introspective Gullible
Fragile      Intuitive  Restless     Unguarded       Idealistic    Receptive
Passionate   Spiritual  Distractible Individualistic Impractical   Liberal
Overinvolved Emotive    Vulnerable   Impressionable  Creative      Inclusive

Medium Permeability: Both Separate and Connected

        • “I keep others around but not inside.”
        • “I will not lose myself in you or us.”
        • “I can see myself through others’ eyes without losing myself.”

Qualities that describe people with medium permeability:

Adaptable  Responsive   Reflective Self-monitoring Friendly    Temperate
Mutual     Circumspect  Balanced   Self-protecting Traditional Reciprocal
Consistent Approachable Prudent    Candid/tactful  Engaging    Synthesizer

Low Permeability: More Separate than Connected

        • “I keep others away.”
        • “I am who I am.
        • ”This close and no closer.”

Qualities that describe people with low permeability:

Constrained Resolute    Decisive   Orderly    Masked       Underwhelmed
Focused     Concrete    Disengaged Persistent Exclusive    Self-constructed
Consistent  Disciplined Explicit   Judgmental Self-reliant Non-expressive

Low Interpersonal Complexity

        • “I am my relationships.”
        • “It’s hard to hold my position if it is different from yours.”
        • “I need your feedback to know myself.”
        • “How open I am depends on you.”

High Institutional Complexity

        • “I generate my own values and expectations.”
        • “We may have different needs and agendas and still connect.”
        • “I can relate to some parts of you but not others.”
        • “I am not responsible for your feelings.”

High Flexibility: A person with high flexibility:

        • Is easily able to regulate permeability
        • Has the greatest range between opened and closed
        • Relies on cues from self, environment and context to let out self or let others in
        • Adjusts permeability depending on sense of safety or threat to self

Medium Flexibility: A person with medium flexibility:

        • Has a moderate ability to regulate permeability
        • Is committed to a certain range of openness between self and others
        • Relies on feedback from others based on rules, roles and contexts
        • Adjusts permeability depending on rules that govern situations and relationships

Low Flexibility: A person with low flexibility:

        • Has a minimal capacity to regulate permeability
        • Is stuck in an open or closed position
        • Can alter permeability slightly but feels unsafe doing so

Weekly Challenge:  Take the assessment!

Supporting Your Success,