So your BFF asked you to help them out, again. “Can you help me with this? Please?” “I trust you the most.” “But you’re my best friend.”
When does it get to the point that your friend might be taking advantage of you or your help? At what point do you tell your friend that you can only help them so much? You have to put yourself first sometimes, right?
Where do you draw the line?
There is no single, definitive right answer; there are definitely a few wrong answers. Setting boundaries can be tough, especially with the people that you’re closest to, i.e. boyfriend, girlfriend, family or best friends. Listing out boundaries can also have a way of creating tension or making things awkward.
To start, there are some questions you can ask yourself. First, are things balanced in your friendship or relationship? If they aren’t, is this acceptable or are you settling? Secondly, is this person asking for your help because they truly need it or because you’re willing to help habitually? Third of all, is your help vital or preferred?
When you separate necessity from preference you can ensure that you are helping your friends and loved ones when it is needed, rather than putting everyone in your life before yourself no matter what. Selflessness is a virtuous quality, but not when it results in undue suffering.
Prioritizing makes a world of difference.
Knowing when you need to put your foot down and say no will help establish boundaries too. It can be easy to be taken advantage of when you’re always willing to help others, and not even realize it’s happening.
Once you’ve determined these answers, if you have come to the conclusion that said relationship is unbalanced, how do you restore or create balance?
Set some damn boundaries.
I’m not talking about building up Trump-esque walls; I’m talking about lines in the sand that ought not to be crossed.
Creating boundaries doesn’t mean you don’t care about your friends, it means that you care enough to let them know how you can best interact to make everyone happy.
What happens when someone crosses your boundaries?
If a boundary that you’ve set is important, don’t waiver. Enforcing boundaries and consequences can be the most difficult part. What do you do when your friend, that you helped out for the millionth time, won’t even chip in for gas or bails on plans you had together? Know what consequences should come as a result of overstepped boundaries.
Be direct even if it sucks. Let’s be clear, that does NOT mean, be a jerk or self-righteous, but knowing how to clearly communicate your feelings about the issue is fundamental. Don’t let your feelings bubble up and explode in resentment later. Also, know when to let it go.
What happens when you’ve crossed a boundary?
Take a step back, practice self-awareness and be honest with yourself. Rather than dwelling in guilt, self-pity, or blaming another source for the mess up, take credit where it is due then move on. Nobody is perfect, so know how to deal with mistakes when you make them, because we all make them. Lying to yourself and your friends is a major no-no.
Overall, friendships and relationships are about give and take. To achieve a happy medium, you have to state what you want or need, and then be willing to do the same for the other person. Don’t forget to listen to the needs of your friends as well. Take with you the wise sayings of SpongeBob SquarePants and “compromise.”