Boundaries–they’re something that I had always heard of, but never really understood the validity of. It wasn’t until this summer and possibly even this fall when I had a lot of time to reflect on my relationships and to assess exactly what I wanted and needed from the people in my life, that I was finally able to understand the importance of boundaries.
It can be lonely to end friendships that have endured for years or to end relationships that have brought you unexpected surges of addictive joy and intimacy, but it is even harder to be in a relationship that falls short of satisfying the love languages that make you feel whole, lively and supported. Ask yourself these questions: is it okay to be friends with someone because they have some unspoken position of seniority in your life, even though they aren’t there for you during your times of needs, and despite you always being emotionally available for them? Similarly, is it worth putting up with a relationship that gives you occasional boosts of serotonin at their convenience, without the continuous commitment to you that you deserve? These are not quirky conversation starters. They deal with matters concerning your mental health and self-respect, which should always be at the top of your priorities list.
However, it’s important to note that it’s not just a matter of cutting people off because they aren’t fulfilling your needs. Empathy must also be practiced. Sometimes, time is the enemy. Distance. Busy schedules. Someone’s inability to take care of themselves and their needs, let alone you and your needs. And that is perfectly understandable and should be acknowledged with sensitivity. Nonetheless, you must remember that you are deserving of everything you need in a relationship to feel heard and loved. As such, if walking away from a relationship that does not fulfill your needs is what will benefit you in the long run, your decision to distance yourself from an anxiety-inducing, one-sided or unreciprocated relationship is valid.
No, it’s not easy. In fact, it can be gut-wrenchingly painful, invoking feelings associated with the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) that can prove a tricky obstacle to maneuver around during your process of separation. You might ask yourself: how am I going to watch their Instagram stories, knowing that I won’t be a part of all the fun excursions they flaunt on their profile? Or, what if they find someone else, replace me, and forget I even existed? Well, here’s the brutal truth: if they are able to continue unaffected by your absence, then they never appreciated the depth and remarkability of your character and soul in the first place, meaning they didn’t deserve you in their life anyway.
If the counterpart in your relationship is unable to hear your concerns and unwilling to compromise to alleviate them, or if you are also unable to meet them halfway (because it takes two to tango, and as instinctive as it is to play the blame game, both parties must accept full responsibility for the functionality of their relationship), then it may be time to let go of what no longer serves either of you. Naturally, obstacles are always going to be there, and only you and your counterpart know what will work best for your unique situation, but I urge you to practice self-respect by respecting your boundaries. Life is complicated and relationships can be tricky to navigate, but my hope for you is to respect yourself enough to know when it’s time to put your foot down and allow yourself to be loved and cared for in the way you deserve.