Setting Boundaries:

Mastering Control in High-Conflict Situations

· Peace,Main

Setting boundaries is crucial when dealing with high-conflict, narcissistic ex-spouses. Boundaries help protect your emotional well-being, maintain your physical space, and safeguard your digital life. In this article, we will explore the different types of boundaries, how to handle enablers or "flying monkeys," and effective communication methods to enforce your limits.

Types of Boundaries

Emotional Boundaries:

  • Definition: Emotional boundaries protect your feelings and help you stay in control of your emotions during interactions with a narcissist.


  • Limiting discussions to necessary topics, such as child care or logistics.
  • Refusing to engage in arguments or emotional manipulation.
  • Protecting your self-esteem by not taking insults or criticisms to heart.

Pro Tips: 

  • Tip One: Your Narcissist Ex will attempt to draw you in by gaslighting, changing the subject, interjecting matters that have nothing to do with the present argument, and by using your words against you. Stay brief! Stay Focused. NEVER engage in anything outside the emotional boundary you set.
  • Tip Two: Set a boundary like this: "I will never engage or allow my ex to engage me in discussions. I will not explain, attempt to convince, or lay out an argument for myself. I will stick to the current matter at hand and nothing more."

Physical Boundaries:

  • Definition: Physical boundaries ensure your personal space and physical well-being are respected.


  • Establishing specific locations for exchanges, such as neutral public places.
  • Setting rules about visits, your property, trespassing and house entry.
  • Ensuring personal safety by avoiding physical proximity during heated exchanges.

Pro Tips:

  • Tip One: Set a neutral place to exchange. This tip is age dependant. If your children are 4+ then a coffee shop is a great place to exchange. Arrive prior to the exchange time. Find a table that is farthest away from the front door. Watch for the arrival of your ex and send your children to them across the cafe. This way, they are running over to your ex in a public place while you can see them. Super safe place to exchange.
  • Tip Two: Under no circumstances should your high-conflict ex be allowed to enter your house, apartment or dwelling. We know someone whose ex beat her so badly that she was hospitalized for 3 months. He almost killed her. Did he go to jail? Yes. But for only 10 years. Do not allow them inside. Set a trespass order on them and be able to protect yourself. (This one may sound extreme, but narcissists are disordered humans. They typically up the abuse post divorce and they can get pretty scary and out of control.)

Digital Boundaries:

  • Definition: Digital boundaries manage your online interactions and protect your digital privacy.


  • Using separate emails and communication platforms exclusively for co-parenting discussions.
  • Setting times for when you will respond to messages.
  • Protecting personal information by using strong passwords and avoiding sharing too much online.

Pro Tips:

  • Tip One: Block your ex from texting and calling you! We know, this sounds radical and we almost always get this question, "what about emergencies?" Here's the thing. Your ex was abusive to you in marriage. They are being abusive to you post divorce. (which is why you found our site in the first place) Why would you want to allow them unfettered, immediate and open access to you via text or phone calls?

    Do emergencies happen? Yes. But they are extremely rare. And if it is a true emergency where first responders are on the scene, then one of them can call you. The "emergency" excuse is not good enough to give your ex that kind of access to you.

    One a date? Your ex can ruin that with a bunch of texts. Playing with the kids? Your ex can interrupt your time. At work? Your ex can call or text you and mess up your productivity.

    Stop right now and block them. They do NOT need this kind of access to you!
  • Tip Two: Block your ex on any and all social media accounts. Social media is a two way street. Your ex does NOT need access to you and you do not need access to them. Whatever is happening in their life is not for you to stalk. Likewise, they do NOT need to know how you're doing by being able to check up on your social media. Block them!
  • Tip Three: Set a time for yourself to read and respond to messages from your ex. Your time for this should be a standard time. Turn off all notifications so that you check their messages on YOUR schedule. Let's say that you decide to check messages on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2:30 pm. This is a great way to manage messages. It's a neutral time.
  • Tip Four: Let a message cool down. Set a timer on your phone if you have to. Open a message and read it. Then, set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour before responding. Often, when you breathe it keeps you from reacting.
  • Tip Five: Make sure you have changed all of your passwords a couple of times. Use STRONG passwords. We have seen several cases where our clients' exes have been secretely logging into their email, social media, messenger apps and etc. CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS! We know it's a pain, but it is absolutely necessary.

Monkeys: Understanding and Dealing with Enablers

Understanding "Flying Monkeys":

  • Definition: "Flying monkeys" are people who assist the narcissist in their manipulative tactics, often unknowingly.
  • Roles: They can be friends, family members, or even professionals who believe the narcissist’s version of events and act on their behalf.
  • Impact: They can amplify the narcissist's control by spreading misinformation or applying pressure on you.

Dealing with Enablers:

  • Identify and Distance: Recognize who the enablers are and minimize interactions with them.
  • Communicate Clearly: Be direct and clear about your boundaries with these individuals.
  • Stay Neutral: Avoid getting drawn into arguments or explanations with enablers. Keep your interactions brief and neutral.

Pro Tips:

  • Tip One: Your ex will attempt to turn anyone and everyone into a flying monkey. The front desk admin at their school? Yep. That can be a flying monkey. How about your aunt who lives in another town? Sure. Anyone that your ex has access to that could have access to you can be used as a flying monkey.

    We have even seen ex girlfriends or boyfriends turn into flying monkeys. Remember, your narcissist ex is VERY manipulative and they will use that ability to manipulate their monkeys into doing their bidding.
  • Tip Two: If you're not good at verbalizing clear boundaries to a monkey, then just hold your boundary silently. If you get a call or a text from someone that you suspect is a monkey, then ignore it or ghost them. Don't fall victim to the trap. In our experience MOST people aren't genuinely interested in your life like they pretend to be. They are only interested in the gossip and the game. Don't play it with them.

Communication Method

Setting Clear Limits:

  • Be Explicit: Clearly state your boundaries to yourself first. We aren't sure that it helps to state these boundaries to your narc. But it might. We recommend evaluating your personal situation to ascertain if asserting a boundary will have any possitive effect. Even if asserting the boundary will be fruitless, that doesn't negate the boundary. You can uphold your boundaries WITHOUT them knowing it.
  • Consistent Messages: Ensure that your messages remain consistent over time to avoid confusion or exploitation.
  • Documentation: Keep written records of your boundaries and any agreements made.

Consistent Enforcement:

  • Follow Through: Always enforce the boundaries you set. If you say you won’t respond to messages after 7 PM, don’t make exceptions.
  • Consequences: Outline and implement consequences if boundaries are violated, such as limiting contact or seeking legal assistance.
  • Support System: Have a support system in place to help you stay accountable and reinforce your boundaries.

Using "I" Statements:

  • Definition: "I" statements focus on your feelings and needs without blaming the other person, reducing defensiveness.


  • "I feel uncomfortable when discussions turn personal. Let's keep our conversations focused on our child."
  • "I need us to stick to our agreed schedule for pickups to avoid confusion."
  • "I prefer to communicate via email to keep a clear record of our discussions."


Setting and maintaining boundaries with a narcissistic ex-spouse is essential for protecting your emotional, physical, and digital well-being. By understanding the different types of boundaries, managing enablers effectively, and communicating clearly, you can create a safer and more stable environment for yourself and your children. Remember, consistency and assertiveness are key to ensuring your boundaries are respected.