150+ phrases to enforce your boundaries

I collect boundary phrases because I’m autistic and engage in scripting so I look less like an awkward llama who just ate a sour lolly.

I also use these as affirmations to remind myself of my worth, standards and right to boundaries.

Most, if not all, of these boundaries can be tailored to fit your exact situation in the moment.

Notes about boundaries

Boundaries are your responsibility to remember and uphold, so you can remind other people to respect them. When people choose not to respect your boundaries, you can use additional boundary phrases in attempt to maintain the relationship.

“Boundaries aren’t for them, they’re for you. And if someone violates your boundary, you don’t set another boundary — you remove yourself from the situation. That’s a personal boundary.

“You take responsibility for your energy and how contagious it is. Energy contagion is so real. When watching a horse, when it’s around energy that doesn’t serve them or is defeating them, the horse just removes itself.” ~Whitney Cummings

Part of enforcing your boundaries involves knowing when to dismiss the relationship. Never let someone become comfortable with disrespecting you — ever, no matter who they are or what they are to you.

Setting boundaries is easy. Standing by your boundaries is what’s so difficult. You have to tell people your boundaries after creating them, because how can they know if you don’t tell them?

Watercolor painting ft. small vertical lines: wavy pencil sections drawn in pencil on bottom half; yellow lines in a semicircle sun with pink, orange and gold rays of lines
Unenforced boundaries be looking like

If you tell someone you won’t be putting up with something anymore and they go and do that thing anyway, what are you going to do? That’s where your boundary comes in.

A boundary is NOT “Please don’t ____; I don’t like it” or “Please don’t ____; it makes me feel ____.” Exclude your feelings, in most phrases. Boundaries are also not “I would prefer…”, “I would like…”, “It would be good if…” and so on — these are manipulative, control-seeking phrases commonly mistaken for boundaries.

A boundary is what YOU do — not what other people do.

With boundaries, you must learn to be okay with the consequences you set as the result of your boundaries.

This is a huge list! Memorize one to start, and keep going until maintaining your boundaries feels natural. Once you’re comfortable with using boundary phrases, your brain will begin creating its own naturally.

I hope these help you ~ take what you need and leave your own in the comments, please! 💖

If you are able to, as the result of finding this post helpful, please buy me a pretzel 🥨.

Respectful responses to disrespectful people

  1. “Can you answer a question for me? What, in this conversation, is giving you the assumption that you can speak to me the way you are?”
  2. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding. I don’t know what I could have said that gave you the impression that I would ever agree with a racist statement like that.”
  3. “That’s a brave thing to say out loud.”
  4. “I don’t accept comments on my body.”
  5. “I don’t like hearing what you say about me to others.”
  6. “What about our relationship gave you the impression that it’s okay to ask me to wear something you feel more comfortable seeing me in? If you’re embarrassed to be seen in public with me because of how I dress or behave, then I won’t hang out with you.”
  7. “I don’t like how you talk about me to other people when I’m not around. I don’t want to associate myself with people like that.”
  8. “If I tell you something, it’s not okay to tell other people. It doesn’t matter if they want to know or you think they should know. I decide who knows what about me.”
  9. “I’m interested in working with you to find a solution; however, this communication style doesn’t work for me. I do not respond well to being put down, nor do I know anyone who does.”
  10. “If there’s an issue, please come and ask me directly.”
  11. “It’s okay that you don’t like how I dressed myself. You don’t have to. I’m allowed to dress this way anyway.”
  12. “Why do you ask?” (to personal questions)
  13. “I’m not sure what answer you’re looking for with that question.”
  14. “I’m not sure I heard you properly. Could you repeat that?”/”Okay, I just wanted to make sure first. If you continue to talk about me that way, I’ll not engage.”
  15. “I’m confused. What gave you the impression that it would be okay to speak to me that way?”
  16. “Interesting how comfortable you feel saying that to me.”
  17. “You interrupted me. I wasn’t done speaking.”
  18. “If you continue to talk to me that way, I will walk away.”
  19. “I don’t respect people who speak to me how you just did.”
  20. “I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
  21. “If I said to you what you just said to me, how would you feel?”
  22. “What an odd thing to say aloud.”
  23. “It’s interesting how you aren’t embarrassed to say that.”
  24. “Speak to me with respect or this conversation is over.”
  25. “What a strange thing to say out loud.”
  26. “If you yell at me again, I’m going to walk away.”
  27. “Hold on. I’m happy to continue this conversation, but I find your wording disrespectful. If you want to continue in having this conversation with me, there needs to be mutual respect.”
  28. “Did you just call [someone you know and respect] a ____? I don’t talk about people I respect that way, nor do I accept it from other people.”
  29. “That’s not very Christlike.” (this one is pearl-clutching to Christians)
  30. “I didn’t find it funny; it was hurtful.”
  31. “I’m not interested in engaging in discussions where we speak badly about people who aren’t present to defend themselves.”
  32. “Hold on. I understand you’re frustrated. I’m willing to do my part to help you. However, I won’t deal with the disrespect. There has to be mutual respect between us in order to continue the conversation.”
  33. “I don’t like the way you just spoke to me. Try again.”
  34. “Hold on. The way you just said that sounded condescending. If that’s not your intention, you’re welcome to try again.”
  35. “Don’t speak to me that way or I will excuse myself.”
  36. “I feel disrespected when you make comments like that. If you don’t stop, then I will be leaving.”
  37. “I respect your beliefs; we do not share the same opinion.”
  38. “Your beliefs are your own. I do not respect how you feel or what you think about ____, and don’t tolerate that kind of chatter about ____. If you continue, I will have to end this relationship.”
  39. “If you continue to have rude comments, then this conversation will end.”
  40. “I will not tolerate you disrespecting ____. If it continues to happen, we’re going to leave.”
  41. “Can you explain that? I didn’t find it funny.”

Phrases to use when dealing with unsolicited advice

  1. “I appreciate your concern; however, I’m not open to advice.”
  2. “I appreciate your concern, but this is my decision.”
  3. “Thanks, I can handle this on my own.”
  4. “I’m not interested in your opinion.”
  5. “I usually ask for feedback and opinions from people I respect.”
  6. “I’m not looking for advice. I just need you to listen.”
  7. “I understand why you would think that. However, I’m not seeking advice on that. If you continue to offer it anyway, I will be spending less time with you.”
  8. “Okay, pause. I don’t recall asking you for your advice, input or approval. If you feel the need to offer commentary on my attempts to connecting with you, then I’m ending this connection.”
  9. “If you can’t accept and respect me being primarily nonspeaking, or any other way my autism affects me, then I don’t see a reason to continue the relationship.”
  10. “That’s a sensitive topic for me. Let’s talk about something else.”
  11. “Thanks for your advice; I’m going to try something else.”
  12. “I appreciate your opinion; however, I’m not changing my mind.”
  13. “That’s a really personal question to ask someone. I’m not interested in answering it.”
  14. “To continue this relationship, we’re going to have to agree to disagree.”

Gaslighting questions & blame-shifting

Being clear and concise with manipulative people is crucial when exerting your boundaries, because manipulators use all extra information you provide them with against you.

Reminding them what they chose to do keeps the blame where it belongs — unshifted.

Emotionally abusive people tend to play with your emotions, e.g. “You’re just going to do that? You don’t even care…” and that’s when you respond, “You chose to…” because you know what? They chose to behave that way; you’re not responsible for their behavior or their reactions to your boundaries.

  1. “This is an appropriate response to your actions.”
  2. “Expressing my opinion does not equate to being difficult or making things hard.”
  3. “You will not make me feel guilty for putting my needs first.”
  4. “I understand how you feel; now it’s time to talk about how I feel.”
  5. “I understand you’re trying to make me feel guilty or different from what I feel, and it’s not going to work.”
  6. “I recognize you’re trying to make me second guess my experience, and it’s not going to work.”
  7. “My truth is from my perspective. You don’t have to like or agree with it. However, I will not continue engaging you if you don’t respect it.”
  8. “I will not be manipulated by you.”
  9. “I’m not afraid of you.”
  10. “I’m not intimidated by you.”
  11. “What about me saying no is making you so uncomfortable right now?”
  12. “Why do you think it’s okay to continue asking me the same question after I’ve said no?”
  13. “Why do you think it’s okay to keep pushing me to say yes or agree with you after I’ve already given you an answer?”
  14. “You don’t have to like my response to your question or comments; you just have to respect it. Otherwise, I don’t see how our relationship can continue.”
  15. “My emotional response is perfectly appropriate given your behavior.”
  16. “I don’t think you’re telling me the truth.”
  17. “Consent is important, and I am saying NO. If you keep pushing me to say yes, I will be leaving.”
  18. “I will not be committing to any favors until you share what that favor is.”
  19. “What you want me to do or think I need to do is not the same as what I actually need to do in my life.”
  20. “I will not allow you to pull me down to where you are so that you feel better about yourself.”
  21. “If I tell you how I feel and you perceive it as me arguing, then I won’t tell you how I feel anymore.”
  22. “My no always only means no.”
  23. “Enforcing my boundaries doesn’t mean I don’t empathize with you or don’t care. If you don’t understand this, I think we should pause the relationship until you do.”
  24. “My feelings are as important as yours.”
  25. “I understand you’re gaslighting me right now. I trust myself.”
  26. “Giving me the silent treatment is manipulative, which is a form of emotional abuse. I don’t tolerate that.”
  27. “I have a right to feel what I feel, and right now I feel ____.”
  28. “No one gets to dictate how anyone feelings about anything unless it’s themselves.”
  29. “I won’t allow you to use guilt to control me.”
  30. “You are not entitled to knowing that about me.”
  31. “I’m not responsible for how you feel about my boundaries.”
  32. “I’m not responsible for your behavior.”
  33. “I’m not responsible for your feelings.”
  34. “If you continue to twist my words, I will end this conversation.”
  35. “My behavior is an appropriate response to how you chose to act.”
  36. “You chose to [broken boundary], so I responded accordingly.”
  37. “I understand you don’t think ____ is a big deal. However, we’re talking about my perspective right now, and I do.”

When people reference the you BEFORE boundaries

  1. “I changed my mind.”
  2. “This is non-negotiable.”
  3. “I will be going home on time today. I’m tired. What I need the most is rest. I recognize the old me would have stayed overtime, but the new me realizes it has a real impact on my productivity the next day.”
  4. “I know the old me would have done this; however, the new me recognizes what helps me deliver my best — and that’s taking care of my needs. What I need to do i is take care of myself.”
  5. “Stop bringing up what I used to allow. My tolerance has changed.”
  6. “It mightn’t be easy to adjust to this change. However, I care about this relationship enough that I want us to try.”
  7. “In the past, I allowed something different; my needs are different now.”
  8. “It’s not you; it’s me. I’m changing/have changed, and this is what I need now.”
  9. “It’s okay if you don’t like what I’m saying; I need you to respect it regardless.”
  10. “I proposed this solution because I want to maintain the relationship.”
  11. “Some things I allowed in the past no longer work for me.”

Other ways to say NO

You’re allowed to say no.

You’re also allowed not to have an answer yet.

You’re allowed and encouraged to take however much time and space you need to find clarity before committing, agreeing or doing anything.

  1. “No.”
  2. “No comment.”
  3. “I can’t commit to that.”
  4. “I don’t agree with you.”
  5. “Thank you, but no thank you.”
  6. “Thank you for asking me. I’m unable to do that at this time.”
  7. “I need to focus on my self-care and can’t help you today.”
  8. “I’m unable to ____. However, I can ____ instead.”
  9. “I won’t be able to make it.”
  10. “I already have plans.”
  11. “I don’t want to.”
  12. “Thanks for asking. I’m not interested in answering.”
  13. “I’m not obligated to explain myself to you.”
  14. “When I say how I feel, it’s not up for discussion.”
  15. “I need to pause this conversation.”
  16. “I am not comfortable with…”
  17. “I have a right to say no.”
  18. “I don’t think it’s healthy for us to see each other every single day.”
  19. “I don’t think it’s healthy for us to spend 24/7 with each other.”
  20. “I would love to hang out with you another day, when it’s not so late. Do you have any noon availability?”
  21. “I’d love to help. However, I have a lot on my plate right now and can’t at this time.”
  22. “That hasn’t been my experience.”
  23. “I prefer texting instead of phone calls and face-to-face conversation.”
  24. “I don’t feel like speaking right now. If you would like to sign or text, we can continue the conversation that way.”
  25. “I don’t want to gossip or discuss drama.”
  26. “That’s harmful to my mental health, so no.”
  27. “I will not be lowering my standards.”
  28. “I’m not prepared to discuss this right now.”
  29. “This doesn’t work for me.”
  30. “This doesn’t work for me, but ____ might.”
  31. “I’m drawing a line at…”
  32. “This is unacceptable.”
  33. “Please don’t touch me.”
  34. “I don’t want a hug. How about a high-five instead?”
  35. “I can’t do that, but I can help you find someone who can.”
  36. “I don’t know yet.”
  37. “I need a break to collect my thoughts.”
  38. “I need to process what happened. I need time alone right now.”
  39. “I’m not available to take on additional responsibilities at the moment.”
  40. “I don’t give you permission to do ____ to me.”
  41. “I need some alone time.”
  42. “This is not up for discussion.”
  43. “I can’t give what you’re expecting from me.”
  44. “When you ask me to babysit last minute or pick up your sick child from daycare because I work from home/run my own business, I feel like you don’t respect my time. I understand emergencies happen, but this happens too frequently. I’m not a backup to your lack of planning ahead.”
  45. “You do not have any right to being in my life. If you continue to treat me this way, I will revoke your privilege to being a part of my life.”
  46. “I’m not interested in discussing this any further.”
  47. “I will not change myself so you feel more comfortable.
  48. “If you choose to ignore me, that’s your problem — not mine.”
  49. “I don’t want to be touched like that.”
  50. “This is my boundary. If you don’t respect it, then I will be leaving.”
  51. “It’s okay if you don’t like me.”

Ending relationships

If you’re repeatedly having to remind someone of your boundaries, how you feel, and how their actions affect you and nothing changes — that person is actively reminding you they don’t respect you or care about your feelings, needs, etc.

It’s time to leave the relationship. They chose to disrespect you like a broken record, and clearly don’t care to change their behavior, and it’s up to you to remove yourself from the situation entirely.

  1. “I’m no longer interested in pursuing a bond with you.”
  2. “From what I’ve observed, I don’t think we should proceed with our relationship.”
  3. “The best decision for me right now is to pursue my life without you.”
  4. “It’s best that I remove you from my life.”
  5. “I’m no longer interested in repeating myself, especially when I was clear prior, so I’m removing myself from the equation.”
  6. “I’m grateful for the memories I have of you in my life; however, this next chapter of my life excludes you.”
  7. “Our life schedules and priorities are too different. That’s okay, but it’s affecting our compatibility. You crossed a clear boundary I set, so I’m no longer interested in participating in this relationship.”
  8. “You haven’t done anything bad or wrong; we’re growing in two different directions, and I don’t want to waste your time or mine. I wish you well.”
  9. “I can’t tolerate how you choose to behave anymore. I’m no longer interested in being in a relationship with you.”
  10. “Your behavior shows you consistently chose to break my boundaries. I have no more chances left to give.”
  11. “Relationships are built on mutual respect. If you don’t respect me, then this relationship cannot continue.”

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