Enforcing/Setting Boundaries with Friends

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Enforcing/Setting Boundaries with Friends Empty Enforcing/Setting Boundaries with Friends

Post by InkAndComb on Mon Apr 06, 2015 4:44 pm

Hallo everyone! You all have been really great at helping me with topics so far, so here is a new one;

Yesterday I was hanging out with one of my newer friends (new enough that we are close but I'm not close with all her mutual friends yet).

She and I both have a similar problem; even though we can be fun and sassy, we have friends who push our boundaries.  We are also both a bit more sensitive (though I wouldn't say overly so) and have some sarcastic/feisty friends.

During this visit I noticed some really upsetting things; her boyfriend and her roommate/close friend were both pushing her boundaries.  

My friend was getting more and more stressed, and each time she said something they would unleash this cacaphony of "GOD why do you have to overreact? Why are you so sensitive? There goes FRIEND again" in a kind of eye-roll-y type way.

She told me that she's tried talking to Roommate before, and he always explodes at her, says things like "You need to toughen up. I'm helping" etc,

Can you give me your resources for setting/enforcing boundaries? Do any of you have stories of doing this with friends, and keeping them? I feel like she's catching this behavior in the early stages of "Hey that's not ok", so she still has room to work.  But the constant "It's you , not us" attitude is bringing her down.  Any ideas on how I can also support if I see this happening again?
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Post by eselle28 on Mon Apr 06, 2015 5:02 pm

I haven't had this problem as much with friends as with relatives, but I think the tool set to deal with these problems is fairly similar, or at least contains a lot of the same items.

It sounds like your friend has already explained her feelings to her roommate extensively. I assume she's also tried to have this discussion with her boyfriend. I think that's actually one of the traps that people who are having their boundaries pushed fall into. There are people who are willing to listen to explanations and respond to them because they care and they're good listeners, and interactions like this generally don't become huge problems in those cases. The problems are a lot more likely to occur when the other person isn't very good on empathy, or is used to being able to disregard the feelings of the explaining person, or thinks they're so right that they don't have to listen to anyone else's feelings.

If your friend is actually asking for advice, I would say that it's time to stop explaining why the boundaries are where they and and time to start enforcing them a bit. Since these are the early stages of the problem, a good starter to enforce the boundaries is just by leaving the situation for a bit. It's harder when it's a boyfriend and even moreso when it's a roommate, but one request to stop and then excusing yourself to go do errands or saying that you're done having drinks now and will see the roommate at home later if it happens again is a good pairing.

If your friend isn't asking for advice, I'd work more on enforcing your own boundaries and providing support than on doling out advice. She might not be up for receiving advice right now if she hasn't asked. I think you should model the enforcing behavior if these people start behaving inappropriately toward you, both for your own peace of mind and so that there's an example of how else to do things. If people are picking on her but leaving you alone, maybe something like, "Yeah, guys, this isn't fun anymore. I'm heading out. Friend, do you want to go get ice cream [or whatever] with me before going home?" might help when the cacaphony of overreaction starts. That one is admittedly a little trickier to deploy than just leaving yourself, though. I'd also say that you might want to make sure that you make some time to hang out solo with this friend, at least if she's up for that. If both her boyfriend and her roommate are behaving like this, it might be helpful for her to just have a person she can hang out with who doesn't do that all the time.
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Post by PintsizeBro on Mon Apr 06, 2015 5:39 pm

InkAndComb wrote:She told me that she's tried talking to Roommate before, and he always explodes at her, says things like "You need to toughen up. I'm helping"

I... what? Who the hell says these kinds of things out loud?

For what it's worth, your friend totally has the permission of this random internet dude to respond to comments like this with, "No, you're not helping. Now talk to me politely or fuck off."

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Post by jcorozza on Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:05 pm

Whether your friend wants advice or not, being able to talk to you about having these boundaries pushed and validating her feelings about the boundary pushing will be a HUGE help! Make sure she knows that she hasn't done anything wrong, and isn't being over-sensitive for having boundaries.
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