Some people overstep boundaries. Is this a psychological problem with a solution?

Why does my grown sister think she can bring her cats into the house and put them in any room of the house, when it is not her house and the house rule says no animals? How can someone think they can come into my room and put pictures of their family and their furniture, clothes and books into my room? When I stand my ground, they get all bent out of shape. They say they do not want to hear it and it upsets them very much that someone stands up to them. Then they cannot sleep or they get sick or something. They whine that there is no place to put their clothes, cats, pictures, etc. and complain if I cover the pictures with mine, or put mine in their place, in MY room!!! This is definitely a boundary issue in both of those cases. I am an adult and have an equal share of the house with them. They have their rooms in both cases, and I have mine, or I thought I did. When I stand up for my rights, other members of the houses say, "Please we want some peace around here." which the people with the boundary issues are happy to agree to so they can do whatever they want. The other aspect is that my sister will not let me use one of the house bathrooms because she says it is hers. I turned on the light in there once and she had a total fit. It is not hers, it is the guest bathroom. The other lady is like that too. They feel justified in walking all over you, but you better not tread one foot into what they think is their territory or it produces some type of emotional reaction--anger, tears, outrage, etc. Except for that, they are nice people--helpful, courteous, kind, and usually Christians. How can I help these people? Should I just let them have their way, or would it help them more if I stood up for my own boundaries and risked disturbing others? What is this syndrome called?
Asked May 28, 2011
Edited May 28, 2011

If you are looking for a place to share your travel photos and stories, then try BigRoom.

Sometimes when there is an emergency, you have to move over and share your home with family or friends. In that case, the boundaries often get smaller. If this your normal liviing situation however, that's different. In neither case does anybody have a right to go into another person's private area and take, change or use anything without permission. You are within your rights to complain but I doubt it will do much good.

If you have the ability to give them the peace and quiet they ask for by moving somewhere else, I'd do it. This is a classic case of the "Me-Me-Me "syndrome.
Answered May 28, 2011
Thank you, Rob. Someone is coming in to use the room for awhile. That is fine with me, but she is not planning to move her stuff out even then. Maybe I should move and just get out of it!
If you can make that happen, that's what I'd do. Life's too short to deal with "syndromes." :-)
Rob May 28, 2011
From what you said, it seems obvious that they are unable to treat you with respect when it's inconvenient for them, and they aren't receptive to hearing how this impacts you. It sounds like that's not ok with you, and it wouldn't be ok with me either. If they can't at least hear you, no amount of talking will help.

You could take a look at yourself to see if there are others in your life you have these same issues with now or in the past, if you have recurring patterns, etc. Take stock to see if you need to correct behaviors or thought patterns that enable others to disrespect you.

I agree: move out if you can... but do take stock of your patterns to be sure you don't inadvertently help recreate the same situation in the new place.

Oh... and I think that "syndrome" is commonly called "selfishness."
Answered May 28, 2011
Edited May 28, 2011
Thank you for this. When guests come in to the house, the heads of the household sometimes uses my room for a guest room. I am out of town a lot so they clear it with me. But when I get back, the preyers have had time to get in there and move things in and out, take things, etc. I have a lock for the door, but the lady of the house likes to open the door to let the light into the hall. I am thinking I could offer to pay more for my room to be completely private and another room used for the guest room if there is one. Before the preyer lady came in, her room was the guest room. She is not even paying rent but working instead in the house so she has lots of time to get into mischief.
I can relate. I lived in a nunnery for several years. There was little regard for privacy, and my room could be reassigned or given to guests without notice.

Offering to pay a little more for your privacy is a great idea until you can get into another space. A little of that could go towards the minimal cost of turning on the light in the hallway. The landlady could also save the extra towards a fold-out sofa or something so your private space can remain exactly that while you're away.

I'd get the new privacy arrangement amended in the lease, or at least get it in writing, with multiple notarized copies stored outside of the house.
That is a little unusual for a nunnery. Many of them respect your privacy--your cell or room is for prayer and study. There are a few like you mentioned--like Mother Teresa's convents for one--who do not want you to be attached so they give away your rooms to guests. And they are probably more likely to do this in the novitiate. When I was visiting one convent,, the poor nuns gave me their room and slept on the floor in the basement, so I know where you are coming from.
Yeah, it was definitely about non-attachment... plus we did really have very limited resources. We even had converted walk-in closets and entry ways into "rooms" for nuns. There was really no place to put guests, so we had to sacrifice. I had no problem with that part. It was the lack of consideration and brashness that they displayed. Many times I actually slept in a bowling alley, and in the copy room... and in a doorway!
Boundary issues can occur with persons with borderline, dependent, antisocial, or hystrionic personality disorders. Without knowing more about these persons, I would hesitate to say which category they may or may not fall into.

The most obvious answer is selfishness, and you seem to contradict yourself when you describe their actions and then go on to say that they are "otherwise kind and courteous." It sort of sounds like "Besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

People will only take advantage of you if you allow them to do so. Have you backed down from this conflict in the past to "keep the peace?" That might explain their cavalier attitude toward your space. If you plan to stay there, you have to stick to your guns.

If you feel that it makes the homeowners too uncomfortable for you to do so, then I would definitely find another place to live...hopefully without housemates, or at least with some that you know would respect your boundaries.
Answered May 29, 2011
Wow, thanks! I will definitely look up those syndromes. Yes it is a contradiction that they are so nice. Both my sister and this lady will offer to help, offer to clean my room, which I do NOT want her to do, offer to make you dinner, listen to what is missing, but do nothing about it saying they have no place to put their cats, or their pictures, clothes, so they have to use your space. They tell me that a Christian should love them--i.e. let them do what they want. If I object, they will not talk to me and get very upset. There is something wrong in their cores. I asked the lady of the house about a house guest to come, and whether the guest would be using my room while I was gone for the weekend, so I could make room in the closet. The other lady overheard and became extremely agitated when the lady of the house said she would be using another bed. It was so over reactive.
Found out today that one of the ladies above mentioned lost her job because she tried to take over the whole area where she worked. I guess I should really feel sorry for her.
Compassion is always beneficial. It's a tough lesson to learn, but just because others harm us, we don't have just cause to develop hatred or anger (which doesn't mean the unjust situation/action should not be corrected). She's clearly got a big blind spot that's causing trouble in many areas of her life.

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