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Are You Invasive or Being Invaded?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
April 10, 2023



Relationship conflicts often occur around issues of invasiveness. Discover what invasiveness is and what to do about it.



setting boundaries, feeling invadedIn a session with Polly, we explored the issue of invasiveness, and Polly suggested that I write an article on it because it can be such a difficult and sometimes subtle issue.

We are being invasive when we tread upon another's physical or emotional space without being invited. Sometimes we think we are being kind when we are actually being invasive. For example, Polly decided to clean up her husband Brad's office and move the furniture around as a surprise for him. Brad was surprised - but not pleased. Taking it upon herself to move his furniture was invasive and Brad felt violated rather than cared for. On the other hand, Polly feels invaded by Brad when they get into bed at night and Brad grabs her breasts. It’s obvious to Polly that he is using her breasts for his comfort, and the neediness of it makes her cringe. He is not giving to her - he is taking from her, and it feels violating rather than caring or sensual to her.
 

If our parents were invasive with us, we might not realize when we are being invaded.

My mother was highly invasive in terms of being judgmental and telling people what to do. She was constantly telling me how to live my life, what was right for me, what I should do differently, and what was wrong with me. Since she had been doing this my whole life, I didn't realize that it was invasive until I started doing Inner Bonding and tuning into my feelings. Once I started practicing Step One - staying tuned into my feelings - I realized how much I disliked her judgments and invasiveness. Through practicing Inner Bonding, I finally learned to stand up for myself by letting her know that I was not available for her opinions unless I asked for them. It was not easy for her to stop, but each time she tried to tell me what to do, I would hold up my hand and quietly say, "Stop." She finally stopped.

As a child, Madeline's father was sexually invasive - giving her slobbery full-mouth kisses, telling her dirty jokes, and frequently grabbing her butt. This behavior continued into her adult life. It was only after starting to practice Inner Bonding that she realized that this was highly inappropriate. She had always hated it but thought there was something wrong with her for hating it. Her Inner Bonding work gave her the courage to speak with him about it and put a stop to his sexual invasiveness.

While on the phone with Sally, one of my older clients, her call waiting kept clicking. Finally, she interrupted her session to answer the call. It was a very needy friend of hers ostensibly calling to check on her to make sure she was okay. Sally had told her friend that she had a session with me at that time, but her friend, not really caring about interrupting Sally, was being invasive out of her own neediness.

Invasion can be as minor as interrupting you while you are on the phone, standing too close to you, or hugging you when you don't want to be hugged, or as major as theft or physical or sexual violence. Invasiveness can be verbal, physical to your being, or physical to your belongings or space. When someone wants what they want from a self-serving place, and they disregard what you want or feel, they are being invasive.
 

I've discovered an interesting thing about invasiveness.

The caretaker often has overly loose boundaries regarding being invaded but is generally quite careful of not invading others. The caretaker tends to see themselves as invisible and others as important. The taker generally has strong or rigid boundaries regarding being invaded, while often unconsciously being invasive with others. The taker tends to see themselves as important and others as invisible. Both of these types – aspects of the wounded self - need work regarding invasiveness: the caretaker needs stronger personal boundaries, while the taker needs to be more conscious of not being invasive with others. Both need to be doing their Inner Bonding work to develop a loving adult who sets appropriate limits against being invaded and is conscious of not being invasive with others. Both need to learn to regard themselves and others as important, rather than one or the other.

Heal your relationships with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.

 



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