Social workers are often entreated to 'make use of the self' when they seek to form helping relationships with service users. This can raise tricky questions for the practitioner seeking to be professional and maintain 'appropriate boundaries' with service users: what and how much of my self can I share? This article reflects on a concept from social pedagogy known as the '3 Ps' to explore the challenge of managing boundaries in relationships as a professional. Three questions are explored through personal reflections on my experience as a social worker and more recently as an academic: (1) What parts of my 'self' can I share when seeking to build relationships with service users or others who it is my job to support? (2) What costs are there when I withhold aspects of myself from these others? And (3) What benefits and risks might there be in crossing boundaries?