Setting Boundaries During the Holidays

We’ve all been there – a family member approaches us and strikes up a conversation about the weight we’ve gained or whether or not we’re dating anyone. This can feel very violating and uncomfortable (both signs that a boundary you have is being crossed) and is not something you need to tolerate.

Often times, people in our families or others who are close to us feel like they can say anything they want about our lives, our bodies, or our relationships. They comment on how we look, who we’re dating, what we’re studying, our hobbies, and it can feel very violating. With the holidays upon us it can feel like there is no way to get away from our relatives breathing down our necks. Here are some tips on how to set boundaries during the holidays.

1. Voice your boundary

If someone you’re talking to begins to cross a boundary and you feel safe enough to let them know, do it! While it can be really hard to do, it will make it crystal clear to that person that this topic is off limits. Setting a boundary in the middle of a conversation can look like, “My body isn’t something that I want to talk about. Is there something else you’d like to discuss?” or “I am glad to get to see you/talk to you this year. In order to make this a more fun and comfortable visit I would appreciate if we could stop talking about my love life.” These statements are assertive and clear, and voicing your boundary is a great choice if you feel safe doing so.

2. Change the subject

If you find yourself in this situation and don’t feel safe asserting your boundary, try quickly changing the subject. Something like, “My love life isn’t very interesting, what have YOU been up to lately?” or “Yep. Anyway, read any good books lately?” This is a safe way to move away from the uncomfortable conversation without having to make a big deal out of it.

3. Walk away

It is perfectly okay to walk away from a conversation that doesn’t feel good to you, even if you think it might upset someone else. Your feelings are valid, and if a conversation feels painful or uncomfortable you have every right to get out of there. Excuse yourself by saying, “I’m going to sit this one out” or saying that you need to get some water or a snack, and then come back when you’re ready.

4. Take alone time

Whether you’re at an in person event or a virtual hang out, there is nothing wrong with taking some alone time among all of the festivities. Being around people in any capacity can be really exhausting, and listening to your body when it tells you to take a break from socializing will allow you to feel refreshed and ready to engage.

No matter what you’re doing this holiday season, remember that your boundaries are valid and should always be respected.