by Jennifer Mudarrie, LICSW
Rarely do we talk about the friendships in our lives in terms of being a relationship that needs tending too. Today, I want you to bring your awareness now to your friendships. Think about them in their totality in your own life now. Are they bringing you satisfaction and joy/peace/sense of security in feeling seen/known?
We all have different types of friendships. We have circumstantial friends such as the individuals we see at the playground with our children’s friends and their parents, we have friends we’ve known for years, and some friends can be those work relationships that help you get through a hard day.
Think about how you have boundaries in each of those relationships. Boundaries are sometimes complicated because we’re designed to of them in a negative way. They aren’t meant to. They are keeping you in line with your values and needs while respecting someone else.
Think about your needs in the friendship
Let’s think of a garden as a metaphor for your friendships. If we aren’t weeding the garden, we leave it as it is, things stay as they are. No growth happens without tending to them. Each thing has its own care instructions, as each person does. How will friends be able to be there for us if we aren’t sharing these things?
An important question: How can you maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships that help you show up as your best self in each of those individual situations?
Say you have a friend and you’re coming up with a plan together to spend time together. You aren’t a morning person, but this person suggests that you do something together in the time you hate being awake. You say yes, despite your intuition and you end up feeling tired, resentful, and not enjoying the company of your friend. Maybe you even end up getting into a challenging dynamic because your tired.
So, ask yourself, what would be a helpful move on my own end?
In this dynamic, explaining you’re need to meet later highlights how you value the friendship and the time together. You could even discuss how it’s important to you to feel your best possible self when spending time together and you want to ensure that happens.
What is the payoff of sharing your boundaries of not getting up so early in this example?
Although it can be hard to not speak up, by being transparent with your friend, you get good time together. In our example now you aren’t tired and cranky and maybe thinking you shouldn’t have agreed to meet. Instead, you’re focused on enjoying the time and feeling positive that you and your friend respected your boundaries and needs to attend this time.
Boundaries to Practice
Even when we know our friends are loving and open, it’s important to evaluate your own needs and communicate to maximize your relationship. For example, boundaries in friendships can look like saying:
- “I really want to talk to you more, but I am tired, and I need to go to bed earlier. Can we wrap up our call soon and find a time to talk again?”
- “I would love to come to your party but I am not able to stay the entire time. I will have to leave early even though I know you are having something until 10 PM.”
- “I value our friendship, but I can’t talk about this issue right now. It’s hard for me to discuss it and I need time to make sure I am ready to hear other’s opinions about this.”
- “Being together makes me happy but when you comment negatively it feels like judgments. So, if you continue to make disrespectful comments about my partner/children/pets etc., I will need to ______ and change the situation.”
When we demonstrate healthy boundaries in our relationships with our friends we are practicing for other scenarios as well. Each time we are building brain evidence that we are safe and loved by our friendships.
Think about how setting healthy limits and expectations for others allows you to be CLOSER. Friendship is like any other relationship; it doesn’t require us to be anything else but our true selves. Wishing you joy in your relationships, and all the connection that comes from being your TRUE self.
About Jennifer Mudarrie, LICSW: Jennifer is a psychotherapist with nearly two decades of experience in the mental health field based. She provides individual and family counseling, movement-based healing, clinical supervision and facilitates various workshops in the community with other multi-disciplinary professional providers.