Useful Ways to set Boundaries with Family and Friends

Useful Ways to set Boundaries with Family and Friends

Setting boundaries is an important part of self-care. It is not only healthy for you but for the relationship with your friends and family members. One of the reasons setting boundaries is often challenging is that it may feel like you are neglecting the individuals in your life. 

In some cases, you may be setting boundaries because the other party is being difficult or causing you stress. In other cases, you may not have the time to spend with your friends and family while you are working through an important goal, like studying for exams or completing a large work project.

There are many techniques you can use to set boundaries with your friends and family. The ones you use largely depend on your personal preferences as well as the other party involved. Listed below are several techniques to set personal boundaries. 

Types of Boundaries

Before you start setting boundaries, it is important to understand the differences between each type. Depending on the relationship, you may need to set multiple boundaries. The first is physical.

This includes how often you see friends or family members, as well as the activities you do together. For example, if you normally go out with friends every weekend to watch movies or play games, you may need to cancel this activity while you focus on work or school. You still want to keep in touch and talk during downtime, but that is all you are comfortable with until you have more free time.

A similar type of boundary is material. This one is often only applicable if you live with a friend or family member. Material boundaries include how your property and personal belongings are treated. For example, if a friend or family member is constantly eating your food or asking to borrow your vehicle, they are not respecting your material boundaries. 

Emotional boundaries relate to how you are feeling. Depending on your personal situation, you may not have the energy to socialize. Or, if you are able to socialize, you want to keep the interactions light until you have time to recover. Emotional boundaries are typically the hardest to set because they involve honestly assessing your emotional needs and accepting whether a friend or family member is placing too much stress on you.

Putting your Needs First

Setting boundaries is difficult for many because it involves putting your needs first. This often involves a great deal of guilt and a fear of being selfish. There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. Your needs matter as much as the needs of your friends and family. This applies to both your physical and emotional needs. If you are not getting enough sleep, do not be afraid to tell your friends and family you cannot keep going out late at night. If you still feel selfish putting your needs first, remind yourself you cannot take care of others if you are stressed or agitated.

Avoiding One-Sided Relationships

One sign you need to start setting more boundaries with your friends and family is if the relationship has become one-sided. Think back to your recent interactions and decide whether the focus was split between both parties or if you are always the one helping out your friend or family member. If it feels like you are always the one taking care of the other individual, do not hesitate to bring this up. It may be painful to say, but it is possible the other individual is unaware of his or her actions. Have faith your relationship is strong enough for you to be honest.

Political Differences

In recent years, politics have placed a significant amount of stress on relationships. Discussing politics frequently turns into a hot button issue. Even if you and the other individual are aligned in political views, it may be too stressful for you to discuss. If you are getting stressed discussing politics, make it clear that it is a subject you are not comfortable discussing.

Take a Step Back

Before you start talking with friends and family about setting boundaries, take a step back and think about the relationships. Are the issues with the relationship a temporary problem caused by other issues in your lives or have they been an ongoing problem? Which type of boundary do you think is best? Do you want to cut off contact entirely or take a break from the relationship? Understanding what you are feeling makes it much easier to have a conversation and make sure you get everything you need by establishing boundaries. 

Be Direct

Once you know what the issues are and what boundaries you want, the next step is to confront your friend or family member. Having a conversation about setting boundaries is not easy, but the best thing for both parties is to be direct. If you dance around the issue, you risk not setting firm enough boundaries, which will only lead to future problems. 

While discussing the problem, make sure you also give the other party an opportunity to share his or her feelings as well. However, do not let him or her invalidate your feelings or override the boundaries you are trying to set. For example, if you are setting a time boundary and cannot stay out later than nine each night, do not let your friend or family member convince you to stay out until midnight just this once.

Do not be afraid to say no. Setting boundaries is not supposed to be a negotiation. You also have the right to privacy when discussing your boundaries. If you say you are not comfortable engaging in a certain activity or discussing a subject, do not feel pressured to explain why if you do not want to. 

Upholding your Boundaries

Adjusting to boundaries may take some time. Do not get upset if the other party accidentally slips up from time to time, especially when you are first establishing relationships. For example, if you recently asked your friend not to discuss politics around you, do not lash out if he or she accidentally brings it up. Politely remind him or her you do not want to discuss the subject and let the matter drop. If your friend or family keeps bringing it up after the fact, then you need to have a firmer discussion about what you are comfortable with.

By Admin