Boundaries are pretty crucial to the health and happiness of introverts.
In the past, we’ve talked about how to set boundaries on this site, but not so much about the types of boundaries introverts should set for themselves.
While boundary setting is going to be unique to each person, there are a handful of boundaries that every introvert should really take into consideration.
The extent and exact nature of the boundary is going to be dependent on you and your unique situation. But it’s still going to be wise for most introverts to make some kind of clear boundary in the areas in this post.
Here are 7 boundaries introverts should consider setting.
Boundaries for downtime
The time you take to recharge isn’t a luxury. For introverts, it’s a necessity. So it’s important to be clear with the people in your life that this time is for you.
This can mean telling anyone you live with that you’re going to a particular room, and only want to be bothered if there’s an emergency.
Or it could mean making it known to friends and family that you’re generally not available between certain hours or on a certain day of the week.
Setting boundaries like this protects your downtime so your needs get met, and set expectations so those you care about know this is something that’s important for you.
Boundaries for work
It can be hard for introverts to recharge in an age when our phones go off constantly and email makes us always accessible to work.
Additionally, introverts are often conditioned to be more people-pleasing. So it can be pretty easy to take on extra projects and hours at work, which can leave us feeling depleted.
As a result, setting boundaries around our work lives can be really important to ensure we get the recharge time and balance that we need to be functional.
These boundaries can include leaving promptly when your shift is up, or being unavailable to answer emails or phone calls when you’re off the clock.
It can also include insisting on a trade-off from your boss. (i.e. “I’ve got these three other projects, and now you’re asking me to do a fourth. I can’t put my attention on four projects at once, so what would you like to be the priority?”)
Or it can include being clear about the number of hours you’re willing to work. For instance, when I did shift work, I was always willing to trade shifts with people, but I wasn’t willing to take on additional hours.
I typically worked four-hour shifts, so if I was covering a six-hour shift for a co-worker, I’d need them to take one of my four-hour shifts and pick up two hours of another one. This let me be a team player, while still getting what I needed.
The boundaries you set at work are going to be unique to you, so it’s important to see what’s draining your energy and proceed accordingly.
Boundaries for phone calls/communication
Nearly every introvert I know is anti-phone. Sure, sometimes people do just need to call for a given reason, but someone calling “just to catch up,” can be an introvert stressor.
An in-depth conversation can take a good deal of energy from an introvert–even if it’s with someone we like. As a result, you may want to set some boundaries around how you’d like to be communicated with.
Personally, I tell people if we’re calling to catch up, I’d like to schedule that call so I can set aside the right amount of time and energy and enjoy the experience. Calling without warning for something quick is okay with me.
But if someone does need to talk to me longer without scheduling ahead of time (like a friend having a bad day), I ask people to text me first and just give me a heads up. This gives me the chance to wrap up anything I might be doing and mentally prepare for the exchange.
This way I can be there for people without disregarding my own needs and priorities.
The phone is my biggest communication boundary, but for you, it may be something different. But I think most introverts benefit from a communication boundary of some kind since it can be a sneaky way of giving our energy to others.
Boundaries for plans with friends and family
Most introverts I know don’t do well with last-minute plans.
We need to charge up and mentally prepare to be around people. Plus, we really enjoy being alone, so if we’ve got a day to ourselves planned, a friend’s excited “I got off work early, let’s get dinner!” text isn’t as exciting to us as it is to them.
We also tend to like more low-key environments, so making plans to socialize with us at loud clubs or bars isn’t our idea of a good time.
As a result, it’s a good idea for introverts to set some boundaries around when and where they make plans with people.
This could mean making it known you’re generally not available for last-minute/day-of plans, the types of locations you aren’t into, or something similar.
Again, the boundaries you set will be unique to you, but setting the right boundaries and expectations with the people you make plans with will likely make some noticeable improvements in your life.
Boundaries for visits
I’ve made it pretty well known that one key boundary for me is that it’s not okay for people to come by my house unannounced.
It’s okay if you’re nearby and send a text asking if you can swing by for one reason or another. This gives me the chance to decline if it’s really not a good time/I’m not in the mood. But just showing up because you happened to be in the neighborhood will not get you access to me or my house.
My doormat actually says I hope you told me you were coming over, and I am not playing around.
And I think this is a boundary that would serve most introverts well. We need to have the energy to entertain. If people can just show up at our houses when they feel like it, it’s likely to lead to us giving energy we don’t have.
In some cases, we’ll feel the effects of that for days.
Boundaries for parties
Introverts aren’t big fans of parties, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them in the right situation.
I’ve found “the right situation” is really the right boundaries. Again, this is going to vary by person.
However, you may want to set boundaries on a party-by-party basis, based on the size and environment of the party, and establish the boundary ahead of time.
If it’s a large party, in a loud or crowded setting, an hour or two may be the longest you’ll stay. If it’s a get-together with your spouse’s extroverted family, it may mean taking separate cars so you can leave when you’ve had enough or agreeing on an exit time ahead of time.
Or if it’s a more low-key dinner party, you may be up for a longer visit.
If you’re like me and simply cannot get through a wedding reception, you may make it known that you’ll be attending the ceremony and not the reception.
No matter what you decide, it’s a good idea to set these boundaries ahead of time (with yourself or with anyone else who may be relevant) so you don’t find yourself pulled into a too-loud, too-long party that leaves you with a days-long introvert hangover.
Boundaries for celebrations
In this case, I’m talking about celebrations for you.
It’s always nice when the people in our lives want to celebrate us in some way. But I’m not sure there’s much of a point if we’re not going to enjoy the celebration.
If there is any form of celebration that you would absolutely hate, make that known to people. For me, it’s surprise parties. I don’t ever want to walk into a surprise party, and I’ve told my friends and family that.
If I’m not mentally prepared for a party, the last thing I want is to be at one, let alone be the center of attention at that party.
But this doesn’t mean I’m not up for some version of a surprise celebration. The best birthday surprise I’ve ever gotten was when two of my friends wanted to take me out to dinner. When I got to the restaurant, they’d arranged for two of my other friends to show up, which I wasn’t expecting.
I was mentally and energetically prepared to go out to dinner, and that’s what we did. There were a few more people than I was expecting, but not an overwhelming amount. It was a great night!
So, know how you want to be celebrated and let people know. As a whole, I either want to be involved in the planning or given an idea of what’s happening even if elements are a surprise (i.e. “we’re going out to dinner, but the restaurant is a surprise. I know you’ll like”).
And once you know what you like, communicate that with the people around you. Because I’m pretty sure one of the worst feelings in the world is having to suffer through a celebration in your honor. This gets you ahead of that.
Looking for more tips on how to manage your introverted life?
If you want more tips and tricks on how to manage your introvert life and build plenty of healthy introvert habits, check out the Introvert Life Guide!
This guide was designed to help you build the introvert life of your dreams. And it’s full of plenty of tips, tricks, and ideas to help you create an introvert life that’s uniquely yours!
It will also help you embrace your introverted nature and build a life to help you thrive!
For more introvert life tips, check out the other introvert posts!
Sound off: What boundaries do you set as an introvert? Tell us about it in the comments!