#Askingforafriend: Setting a boundary

By Elizabeth Kendall
GCU Office of Student Care
#Askingforafriend

Boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves within relationships.

Some boundaries are universal. For example, most people would not walk into their boss’ home and try on his or her pajamas or eat from the plate of the guest at the nearby table in a restaurant.

There are boundaries everywhere, as laws, regulations and rules in governments, businesses, schools and families.

The difficulty with boundaries is when we realize that many boundaries are personalized. Is it OK to borrow your friend’s clothes? What do you do when your parent asks you to come home every weekend?

So many things go into those considerations – respecting others’ boundaries, honoring your values, meeting your needs, etc. At the end of the day, those personalized boundaries look different for everyone.

So when you’ve figured out what you need, how do you draw the boundary?

Let’s say I need to let my friend know that I don’t want to be their venting go-to person anymore. It’s been draining and I don’t have the emotional space for it. I’ve decided that I’m OK with letting them occasionally vent to me, but I don’t want it to happen daily or consume our conversations.

To do this, I would want to explain the boundary simply and directly. Here are some options:

“If you’re feeling like you need to vent, I’d appreciate it if you first ask me if I have the energy for it. It’s often draining for me.”

(You let them know how you’re feeling and give them a concrete way to respect your boundary.)

“I don’t have the headspace to listen right now. I need to do something low-key to wind down. Would you want to watch a movie or play Minecraft?”

(Be unapologetic in explaining what you need. Invite them to help you meet your need.)

“I’m glad you feel comfortable sharing things with me, but sometimes I don’t have the energy to listen. What would be the best way for me to let you know when I need a break?”

(Engage them in the solution. This will help them know that you value their relationship and want to make things work between you two while still honoring your own needs.)

Sometimes people respond poorly to boundary setting. If a boundary is not respected, it might be necessary to implement consequences or make a more rigid boundary.

For example, if my friend refuses to stop venting, I could let them know that I’m going to leave the room if it continues. If consequences do not affect them, more rigid boundaries of limited interactions may be necessary.

Contrary to how it seems, setting boundaries is not an act of shutting others out. They are a sign of self-respect and an act of self-care.

Healthy boundaries produce greater confidence in yourself and stronger relationships with others. With practice and consistency, you’ll find the benefits of boundaries strongly outweigh the discomfort of saying “no.”

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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel — I will celebrate before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:21)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/