Subtitle: Why Setting boundaries and knowing your limits within a friendship is essential.
I feel like boundaries , most often get discussed in the context of romantic relationships and occasionally boss/employee relationships, or perhaps more situational… but rarely in the framework of adult friendships and acquaintances. In the future I may discuss how to set boundaries within familial relationships and in a work setting… but right now I am discussing boundaries in friendships… because I know I needed this years ago (and sometimes need to reaffirm it even now) so maybe you might need this as well.
Boundary setting within friendships is not just standing up for yourself against peer pressure. It’s knowing your limits and knowing when to say no because it’s something that makes you uncomfortable or just doesn’t interest you. If you are worried about feelings being hurt, know that a true friend would rather you say no, than going and being unhappy, or not going last minute and then leaving them hanging because you didn’t want to go in the first place. You don’t have to be mean about it, you can simply say something like “that doesn’t appeal to me” or “that’s really not my thing” and hopefully include the phrase, “but thanks for thinking of me!”
Now, people may have become comfortable in the way your relationship is, which may include a lack of boundaries, and thus setting boundaries may cause people to become uncomfortable and possibly test your new boundaries (or if truly toxic, become offended by these boundaries). Although all change can be a bit uncomfortable and strange at first, the healthiest friendships will take this in stride.
Setting boundaries doesn’t mean, never pushing past anxieties/depression, nor does it mean never stepping out of your comfort zone… Sometimes there are events and situations that are worth pushing past your own anxieties, depression, or whatever reason, to go do something… but still know where your boundaries are. If you know you will be drained and you need to really recoup, then it is more than okay to say “no I won’t be attending.”
Now, if you know that you have made a prior commitment and a person is depending on you, especially if it’s a special occasion, or there is money involved, then it is best to do your best to push past and attend instead of cancelling last minute of course…
However, if you knew in advance that something truly isn’t your thing, then don’t force yourself to attend or allow someone else to force you to attend. For example, I hate ice skating, I have given it the college try, I went several times as a child and even attempted to revisit it a few times as an adult… I have tried it enough to know that it just isn’t my thing and it does not appeal to me at all. (And not just because I am not good at it, I had a great time axe throwing even though I didn’t get a single axe on the board. I just know that ice skating makes me uncomfortable, cold, and I almost always get hurt and yes, I am also not good at it… so it isn’t my thing, and that’s okay!) So that means, if my group of friends asked me to go ice skating, I would decline that invite and not be attendance. (Now there is a “however” to this rule, so… however, if they were meeting up after for dinner or before for lunch, I would meet with them then, if possible.)
Also be mindful, of when unattainable/un-even standards have been set … does that person make you jump through hoops for them, have you bend your schedule to make things happen, and doesn’t listen to you when you are being open and honest that you don’t have the energy to hang out or no desire to attend? Now unless they jump through hoops and bend their schedule equally as much, this is unfair and unhealthy… also, if you aren’t listening to each other than not only is that unhealthy, but what’s the point of this friendship?
Much like the this image by instagrammer @theserenefactor
(By the way @theserenefactor has a lot of great, illustrations on self-care, boundaries, and health in general, check them out!)
The issue could be that you have weak/poor boundaries.
Some Signs you have poor boundaries:
(paraphrased from https://lonerwolf.com/personal-boundaries/ read the whole article for more signs, and information and advice on setting boundaries)
- You say YES when you should say (or want to say) NO
- You don’t speak up for yourself when treated poorly
- You give up too much of your time (you don’t have time for yourself, to recoup/rest, or do the things you really desire)
- You verbally agree with people even when you mentally disagree
- You feel guilty or selfish for taking time for yourself
- You allow (or “ignore”) when people touch you even though it makes you uncomfortable and you want them to stop
- You are passive aggressive or become manipulative just to feel like you have some control
- You feel like you have to “earn” respect by being nice
- You over-share details of your life with others (such as you want to tell a small detail but instead feel the need to tell people information you wish you hadn’t or initially had no intention of sharing… or feel forced to share when you do not wish to)
- You don’t know what you truly need out of a relationship or your life
OVERALL: Setting and maintaining your boundaries is a helpful practice not just for yourself but for the people you are in a relationship with to know how to have a relationship with you and also a way to make sure no one gets mistreated because sometimes those who are in a relationship with someone with weak boundaries can get hurt (indirectly) too! Boundaries are essential for ourselves to thrive as individuals and to have healthy relationships with people.
In the future I hope to discuss signs of toxic friendships and other boundary setting for different relationships and situations.
So go set those boundaries! Don’t worry, YOU GOT THIS!
Not sure if your boundaries are being crossed? Here’s a helpful article: