Boundaries in Relationships: Space Invaders

Have you ever played the game Space Invaders? It came out in 1978, and as a small child I played it until I had blisters on my fingers. I was determined to shoot down the enemy if I couldn’t hide behind the walls that almost always got torn down. Of course, in video games, the game always wins. But in real life, we have the power to control what happens; it’s just a matter of learning how to use it.

20081221_SDL_Space_Invaders_v1.0_(Wii_Game)

One day it dawned on me that the aliens in the game Space Invaders are much like people who are space invaders. (Some people often refer to them as energy vampires.) They invade space and suck the good energy right out because they have no respect for other people’s needs or boundaries.

For instance, the friend that has endless relationship problems – you provide an ear to listen. A week or a month later, same friend, same problem. Six months later, a year, two years  – same friend, same problem. Her relationships literally make her ill, and listening to her somehow starts to make you feel ill as well. You’ve invested countless hours listening (the way friends do for each other) to her rant about her ex or about how everything in her life sucks. Now it’s your turn. You have an issue and need an ear just to hear you vent, and now your friend doesn’t have time for you.

Healthy friendships are based on mutual listening skills; otherwise you are an unpaid therapist.

Sometimes space invaders are determined to selfishly grant their wants rather than someone else’s needs. A friend whose ex would not stop contacting her after she broke off the relationship, even after she ignored and warned him, got to the point of having to call authorities. Obviously, he had no self-control and zero respect for her needs and boundaries. She probably set these parameters at the very beginning of the relationship, translating his actions into flattery and “love” at first, instead of listening to her own needs and boundaries. (Unfortunately, many people do not recognize it, because it’s the way they were brought up.)

bound·a·ry
ˈbound(ə)rē
noun
plural noun: boundaries
1.
a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

Another person I know goes out of her way to “help” people with all good intentions, but she does it without their permission – and then expects things to go her way. For example, she was trying to set her friend up on a blind date with some dude that turned out to be a dud (she invited them to the same party without informing the woman of her intentions). Instead of accepting that her friend had boundaries about dating and being set up with complete strangers without her knowledge, she got upset that she “went out of her way” and didn’t feel appreciated. What she did caused three people unneeded stress – her friend for the embarrassment and invasion of privacy, the dud(e) who was embarrassed after getting his hopes up, and herself because she had expectations for something she had no business sticking her nose into.

Even after explaining to a space invader that they have crossed a line (or many lines), explaining that perhaps right now is not the time to continue a conversation, or explaining that right now we may not be feeling well enough to do what they would like us to do, they continue making excuses and finding ways to invade our space… if that person continues to disrespect your boundaries, it’s time to either set the boundaries or let them go. Space invaders will make us crazy, make us literally ill, and make us want to scream.

Shannon's Creative Work: Abstract Paintings by Shannon Hart &emdash;

“The Scream”

 

In the game Space Invaders, you get 3 “lives,” but in real life we only get one.  But we do have three choices as to how we handle these people: we can either continue allowing space invaders win and slowly kill us, place the boundaries today, or completely end the relationship by announcing: Game Over.

 

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About Shannon Hart

Photographer, Writer, Artist

Posted on December 11, 2013, in Blogging and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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