The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
We all want friends that are supportive, that give us the advice that we need to hear or want to hear. But usually, we don’t consider the draining effect giving out support can have on that friend. I say this as the supportive friend that somehow became the unqualified, but designated “therapist” for many friends.
As an insecure and slightly angsty teen, I would completely invest myself into my friendships because I believed that if I didn’t, it would mean that I was a bad friend. My friends’ problems became my problems. Already dealing with my own set of problems, my friends’ issues only added to my stress when they came to me looking for support and answers. Before I knew it, I was drowning in problems, focusing on others, and losing myself in being there for my friends in an unhealthy way. I began completely ignoring my own personal well-being.
It took me longer than I wanted to, but eventually, I managed to find the perfect balance. I was able to set up boundaries for myself while also still being supportive. No longer was I burning myself out emotionally and mentally in an effort to be what I thought was a good friend.
Now, I listen and sympathize, but I also respect my own limits. I don’t invest myself in others’ problems nor do I work through it with them. It doesn’t make me any less a good friend as I’ve previously feared. In fact, I argue that putting myself first has only made me a better friend. Sometimes, it’s okay to let problems be. Not everything has to be fixed right away and one shouldn’t be responsible for problems that aren’t theirs.
The boundaries I put in place are there to protect me emotionally and mentally, and to allow me to be the best possible friend I can be, to a friend who needs a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen. Deciding to not be the personal-therapist-friend has improved my life in more ways than just friendship. I’ve also learned to stand up for myself and speak up. Setting boundaries helped me start the path to becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be.