crossing the line of healthy boundaries

English: "No personal attacks!"

English: “No personal attacks!” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Madeline Laughs

I’ve been talking a lot lately about making healthy personal boundaries and today I’m going to explore exactly what those are. When you start creating new rules for yourself you want to be careful that the rules you’re making are healthy ones and not ones that will set you back even further than you were before you started.

What is a healthy boundary?

Some people will tell you that a healthy boundary is one that makes you feel good about yourself. But if feeling good means calling someone a bitch, then that’s not healthy in my opinion. So my first topic is about expectations when it comes to feeling good about yourself and still keeping your friend.  

You have to realize that other people have boundaries too. You can’t enforce your boundaries and expect everyone to just go along with you. Sometimes your boundaries will interfere with ones they have set for themselves. When this happens you’ll need to make adjustments and compromises or learn to stick to your new rules if compromising feels uncomfortable.

Do you find yourself being on the defensive constantly when you talk to a certain friend? Are you always making excuses or apologizing for your behavior? Do you feel small and petty after you’ve spent time with them?

Then it might be time to make a personal boundary, or two. No one knows you better than you know yourself so don’t allow anyone to have that kind of control over your own self worth. Being manipulated is not a friendly thing.

Often you can revisit the friendship when your confidence in the situation returns, but while you’re feeling unsteady it’s best to take a break from it. I have done this frequently when creating this new life path for myself and I was condemned for it recently by someone I thought would always be my friend.

My friend condemned me when I enforced my new personal boundary with her. I asked her several times to back off and she persisted. Her persistence was normal behavior on her part when dealing with me because it had always gotten her the results she was looking for in the past. This time it was not getting the expected feelings of remorse and defeat I always displayed before. This time I was sturdy in my conviction that I had the right to do and be exactly what I was without constant judgment from her. My rigid stance made her argument deteriorate into a personal attack and I ended the conversation as gracefully as I could. I told her that I had no hard feelings and perhaps we could talk again another time, but for now I needed space.

She turned on me just as surely as if she had never been my friend at all. Then she set about bashing me with personal attacks and how much she felt sorry for how screwed up I was because, according to her, I am the sort of person that cuts off a friend and then comes running back to them wanting to be a friend again once I realized I was wrong.

Asking someone for space, or cutting off contact after letting someone know why you’re doing it, is not being screwed up. It’s called self-caring. Everyone has the right to care for themselves and if turning off the volume of an attack you feel is unjustified is what you have to do, then do it. No one has the right to tell you how to take care of your own mental health, unless you’re hurting people.

This was an eye opening confrontation for me about the importance of personal boundaries.

If I had been strong enough in the beginning of my friendship with her, perhaps we would still be friends. I don’t know if that’s true, or not. Perhaps we would never have been friends. Once my personal boundaries no longer allowed her behavior to continue to have the same destructive affect on me,  nature took it’s course and the friendship, or what was left of it, ended.

Whenever a friend connection ends because your new personal boundary was crossed, that’s not always a bad thing. It hurts a lot in the beginning, but soon you’ll realize that the glue that held you together was not helping you grow and be healthy. When someone is used to controlling your behavior by judging you harshly and making you feel bad about yourself, then this person is not your friend.

A friend will never leave you in tatters and a good friend will realize when their words are hurting you and you need space from them. Once the skies have cleared and you’re stronger, they will be happy to welcome you back by honoring and respecting your new personal boundaries.

You can be cordial and polite with everyone, but not everyone needs to be your friend. There will always be people in your life that don’t click and the best way to figure out who they are is to make personal boundaries and to stick to them. Friends aren’t supposed to constantly make you feel bad about yourself. That’s not why we make friends.


About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice, Personal Boundaries Primer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to crossing the line of healthy boundaries

  1. I nominated you for One Lovely Blog award. Keep on going.


  2. Pingback: The Importance of Boundaries « Reflections on Life Thus Far

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