We all have at least one friend we need to set boundaries for to protect ourselves from being hurt or betrayed. Let’s face it. Sometimes, maybe even we’ve been that friend to someone. Either way, boundaries are so necessary for healthy balanced relationships in our lives.
We don’t really get to pick our family, and we typically put up with more from them than anyone else. However, with friends, we have more power to set a healthy level of boundaries. Here’s a few tips on how to put the brakes on an unhealthy friendship and start setting healthy boundaries.
It’s okay to have friends with different lifestyles and opinions as yours. However, if your friend crosses the line by being disrespectful simply because you don’t agree, it’s time to set some boundaries.
Personal Experience: My mom’s best friend and I are very close. She’s always been a part of my life and I consider her family. The biggest difference between the two of us is our Faith. We are both believers, but she does not attend church, and because of bad experiences, has harsh opinions about those that do attend church. One promise we made to each other was to respect one another’s opinions. The best thing I can do is pray for her and that she sees Jesus in me; that my actions may restore her hope in the Christian community. She even supports my desires and dreams to be in ministry! We made it clear to one another that we just “won’t go there.” There have been moments we’ve made some points across to one another, but we choose to change the subject when we begin to noticeably disagree. This healthy boundary allows us to support one another and still have the wonderful bond we do.
Set limits on friends that have proven to you they can’t be trusted. Trustworthiness is a big deal in any relationship. If your friend bails on you a lot, is inconsistent, or doesn’t keep their promises to you, it’s time to set some big boundaries. Honestly, I’m not sure I would recommend you continue in a friendship of this manner simply because it’s completely one-sided, but if you insist on having this person in your life, here’s what you should do next:
Lower your expectations. You’re asking for too much from your friend. Stop asking them to be there for you. This could be hard. Sometimes, we need our friends and we really do want them around, but if your friend leaves you hanging in times of need, it’s better to just not even ask.
Ask yourself: What attracted you to this person in the first place? Why did we become friends?
Choose to just love them there. Commit to loving them in the season you’re in together.
It’s perfectly acceptable to have friends in different seasons, with all types of personalities. You can have that friend you love to travel with, but in the day-to-day life, they aren’t consistent. Let her be your Vacation Buddy and leave it there. Or if you have that perfect work friend, love her there.
You’ll begin to realize your expectations of that friend are lowered, and you’re not asking her for too much. You’ll begin enjoying what makes you friends again, and there’s so much beauty in those boundaries, isn’t there?
Find the friend that is there no matter what and hold onto her tightly. I’m blessed with a Ride-or-die and I’ve not found another person on this planet to even come close to the bond I have with her. This girl is the one I vent to. She’s the one I share my silliest, most embarrassing moments with. She’s the one with all the inside jokes. She just gets me better than I get myself. She finishes my sentences. She gives me a look and I know exactly what’s going on. This girl is the one I’d bury a body with. (not really, but you get me?)
This friend is rare. This friend may even only come once in a lifetime. This friend does the real, messy life with you and still loves you through it. But let’s face it.
All our friends can’t be her and we can’t force it on a person that’s not ready for that kind of friend-commitment. If you haven’t found your ride-or-die yet, she’s coming. Just hold on. In the meantime, love the friends you have in the seasons you’re in together.
Categorize your friendships to help you decide what boundaries you need to put in place.
I know this may sound silly, but it works! Just like I’ve been showing you the difference between seasonal friends and ride-or-die friends. Both are different and should be treated as such with boundaries in place.
Your Facebook friends (more like Acquaintances) aren’t necessarily your friends. You probably shouldn’t vent to most of them or confide in them with a secret struggle. You should consider what you’re really going to get from your Facebook friends aside from the fact that most of them are more followers than friends and they’re just waiting to watch you fail. Choose what types of things you want to share with those friends and keep it simple.
Some friends come and go in a flash. I call them Short-Term friends. It’s like you connect so fast, spend every waking moment together for a few months, get in a big fight and go months without speaking until you forgive one another, but deep down you both know it will never be the same. I’m sure you know the friends I’m talking about. You certainly don’t want to give this friend every ounce of loyalty and devotion you would give a true friend.
BIG boundaries should be set on these kinds of friends. When you spot a red flag that things are progressing too quickly and it’s headed for a downward spiral, jump in and address your concerns right away. Strive to make this friend last longer than a friend fling. If she’s not interested, she’ll move onto her next victim anyway. I’ve found women like this can only handle one friend at a time.
All in all, setting boundaries with friends is extremely important. Jesus walked with 12 disciples He considered to be his closest friends. He loved them. He taught them. He stood with them. He laughed and cried and prayed over them. He showed us the perfect example of friendship through his disciples. Jesus had closer relationships with some of the twelve than he did with others, too. Regardless of the many different friends we may have at different stages, we should treat them with love through our journeys together and meet them in the season they’re in!