My husband is my go-to, my best friend, my rock. Often times when I’m going through something, he is the one I turn to talk. Typically, when something is going on with my health, my friends, my family or day to day life, I turn to him. It has been this way for as long as I can remember which is why on my end I’ve never worried about needing to draw limits with my friends, because I’ve never been “that friend”. I have never been the one to call at 2 am crying about a breakup, or the one to talk about my sick relative, or cry about what’s going on in my life. If I’m not figuring it out on my own, talking to God, my husband or occasionally my mom, I am not divulging a lot to my friends.
It’s not that I don’t trust my friends with my most intimate details, it’s just that I hate being a burden to other people with my problems especially if it’s not something they can change. With that being said, I have definitely been on the receiving end. I have received those 2 am phone calls, drove to the police department/hospital in the middle of the night, talked them off the ledge, listened to whatever it was that was ailing them at the time, and for me I’ve always been grateful that I was able to be there for them. However, that openness to talk, to listen, to council has definitely come at a cost to me. As women, we are typically naturally caring and nurturing. As a woman who is an empath on top of that, it’s easy for me to get sucked in emotionally as well. I can get extremely stressed, depressed or even physically sick just from constantly listening to the problems of others and have had a hard time setting up healthy boundaries in friendships. As I am getting older, I’ve found a few tips that are helpful in me setting up boundaries without hurting the friends and family that I love.
1. Ask for a minute
Do you have a friend that immediately starts unloading all of their problems on you the minute they see or talk to you? It’s almost like the second you come in contact with them, word vomit comes out and they can’t help but spill the proverbial tea. You listen of course. You listen for hours, you give advice, you allow your world to stop time and time again for your friend because she needs you.
2. Just say no
Saying no is hard. Saying no without an explanation is even harder. I’m the friend who takes on a million and one projects my friends need help with and offer to bake cupcakes, bring wine and run errands on foot if it means making their lives a tad bit easier. I love helping and catering to those I love and at many times once again it has been at my own expense. You can’t volunteer to bring mac n cheese, greens, dressing and a cake to the potluck knowing you haven’t even made your rent payment then get mad at your friends because now you’re broke and have no clue how you’re going to pay rent on time. Whether it’s you who is the volunteer person or your friends are constantly asking you to do things you don’t have the time, resources or funds to do, simply say, no. Let your friends know that as much as you love them you simply cannot commit to helping them this time and you have to focus on your job, marriage, kids, project, whatever it is, if they are truly friends they will understand.
3. Have the hard conversations
I hate controversy. I cannot stand drama or tension between friends but sometimes you simply have to face it head on. If you have a friend that is absolutely draining and she simply does not seem to get the hint, it’s time to sit her down and have the conversation that you’ve been avoiding. Start off with love. Let her know how much you love, care about and value your friendship. Tell her what she and your friendship means to you, then hit her with the truth. Let her know as much as you love and care about her sometimes her venting can be draining, especially if it’s about the same issue. Tell her that you want her to know that you are there for her but at the same time sometimes you simply just want to hang out with her without any drama and just enjoy each other’s company and have fun. Let your friend know that you can tell whatever the issue is, is weighing on her but she has to start letting go of things she can’t control and changing the things she can. Speak with love the same way you would want someone you love to talk to you and truly listen as well. By talking to your friend you are letting her know, instead of venting to someone else about her, exactly how you feel and if you are as close as you feel you are, she will be able to understand.
How do you set healthy boundaries?