Importance of Setting Boundaries in a Friendship

Boundaries. They are so important to any relationship you have because they ensure mutual respect, effort and comfort in relationships. Specifically, in friendships, it is so important to have established boundaries to ensure a productive, healthy relationship. Setting clear personal boundaries allows established limits for acceptable behavior for both yourself and your friend, negating the chance of being taken advantage of due to your own personal insecurities or good nature.

In the past, I have been terrible at establishing clear boundaries in my friendships. This allowed one of my friendships to crumble because, at the end of the day, I was left feeling used and abused. I would leave hangouts and get-togethers feeling worse about myself because the relationship was unequal in effort, care and support. I felt as though I was straining against a one-way tug-a-war — drained and worthless. Effort is typically the glue of friendship, but not when it is only coming from one person. 

My friend had no idea I felt this way but after talking it through, we decided to establish boundaries going forward. Since then, I feel less drained in our relationship and much more like an equal. I didn't realize how important it was to set boundaries; because of them, we have a healthier friendship.

Setting boundaries can be really uncomfortable because you are confronting the idea that your friendship might be toxic. However, this discomfort produces a more emotionally nourishing relationship. To start the conversation, approach it with an open mind and begin by telling your friend what you would like to discuss. State why you feel that way — whether you feeling hurt, neglected or uncomfortable. Then, you must clearly define your requests, taking both criticism and critique into consideration. Conversations about boundaries should not be like you talking to a wall; it should be a conversation that is equal in effort, input and understanding. After explaining your own requests, you should also be open to their requests. Also, note that with time, your boundaries may change. You may need to revisit that conversation at some point and redefine your boundaries.

Your friendships can both negatively and positively impact your own ability to grow. Boundaries allow you to spend time on yourself and your own needs instead of focusing on others all the time; or vice versa, they can force you to put more effort into your relationships and make time for others. Having a set pathway for your friendships allows you your own space to move forward and maintain your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. Without addressing issues in your relationships, you won't be able to address your own shortcomings. However, by setting limits on emotional theft or mental drainage in friendships, there is more time to focus on your own development.

Your own personal happiness depends on your ability to establish healthy relationships through the formation of healthy boundaries. And that my friends, is why boundaries are so important.