Healthy relationships have boundaries and so do friendships. Indicating boundaries in friendships ensures healthy, deep and valuable relationships, but what are your boundaries and how do you indicate them?
Not everyone sets boundaries easily with friends or family. Expressing these boundaries and sticking to them often turns out to be quite difficult in practice. We are often conflict avoidant busy because we don’t feel like a hassle. Often you think: ‘well it must be good’. Only then will you get irritated by that one friend who is always late or by your mother who calls five times a day.
Of course it is difficult to express what your limits are. For example, I ignored a friend who really only talked about herself and sucked energy. She probably had no idea that’s why the friendship broken because I didn’t say anything. That is passive-aggressive behavior.
I didn’t honestly say what I felt, but the girlfriend in question could count on silence from my side. While it would of course have been much better to say what was bothering me, then she could have done something with it (or not).
What are friendship boundaries?
To know when to indicate a limit, it is good to first clearly explain what a limit is exactly. When we talk about a border, we are talking about one line of respect. It is the way you want to be treated in which you prevent someone from exhibiting undesirable behavior in your presence through communication.
The importance of setting boundaries in friendships
I had a friend who preferred to talk about men all day long. These endless stories kind of annoyed me, I didn’t care, but I couldn’t bring myself to say that I found it annoying. So I reluctantly listened to all talk about potential lovers and what was wrong with that. Only when it came to topics that I touched personallylike having children and IVF, I thought it was enough.
She literally said: “I’m heartbroken (after another failed date) and don’t feel like people in my life talking about children, you don’t want to start having children too.”
That went too far for me, if she had listened, she knew that we were working on IVF and that I did want a child. A remark like: “You don’t want to start having children, do you?” was therefore not appropriate. I’ve drawn my line, honestly I’m the one blunt comment and she was shocked by that. She didn’t realize that this actually came across as very selfish.
Set your own limits
Before you set limits, you naturally want to know what your limits are. And what the consequences are if someone does not adhere to these limits. Because setting boundaries is one thing, if someone crosses them, you want to act on them. Suppose you find it very annoying that a friend sends you Whatsapp messages all day and expects you to respond immediately, then it is clear what the limit will be.
Share honestly with the avid apper that you like it too much because you simply don’t want to spend all day on your phone. Sharing with the person why you’re setting a boundary makes it clear to both parties.
Suppose the flow of Whatsapp messages continues, then it’s okay not to respond. After all, you have shared that you are not served by all those messages. If this is driving you apart, that’s the result…
Be prepared for negativity
Suppose you indicate a limit, then it is possible that the other person does not understand or respect your limit. This happens regularly. If you always like everything, and suddenly say: ‘I don’t want this anymore’, then you can negative feedback to expect. This can lead to conflict or even the end of a relationship. Then you realize that this relationship would never end well. It’s always give and take… and setting boundaries helps with that.
If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, they want to get their way and don’t care about your feelings. Suppose someone expects you to always be there for him or her, but because you are not feeling well yourself, that is not possible for a while.
Then it’s best to say that you’re struggling and that it’s not going well for a while. It makes sense that you troubles of another then can’t have it. Normally someone would understand that, if not, it is better to take a step back.
The reason why you set a limit is very important and you can also share it with your friend or family member. If you set limits and indicate why it is so important to you, you can be proud that you think about yourself. Ultimately, it prevents passive aggressive behavior and misunderstanding. It ensures that you take each other into account and that is only beautiful, isn’t it?
Aniek (29): ‘I can’t maintain more than three friendships’
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Setting boundaries in friendships gives you more confidence