Friday, October 09, 2015

{Friendship Friday} Boundaries in friendship

I listened to Boundaries (one of the best books on the subject, if you're interested) last month and wow.

Just wow.

I'd read this book maybe 8 years ago so it was great to have a refresher.

I really recommend the book. I wouldn't get the audible version - the narrator sounded exactly like the guy from Medical Detectives.... so just get the original book and read it, a chapter a day :)

There are different sections - boundaries in marriage, work, kids, with yourself, friends, God, church, etc. They speak about some of the boundary situations in friendship, like compliant-compliant, where both parties are too nice to say what they really feel, and so on.

There was a ton of aha moments for me but today I want to talk about some things from the book and from a podcast.

1. I listened to Megan Tietz as a guest on a podcast, so I investigated her podcast. It's too long and chatty for me (!) but I did find an episode on friendship which I devoured.

On that podcast, her co-host said that she is always the one to make the plans, do the inviting, etc. so she's used to it and hasn't really given it much thought. But then she had a moment where she realised that a certain person she'd kept inviting always sounded so pleased and happy to be invited but could never make it, but this person never said anything like, "well, I can't make that date, but how about this one?"

They joked a bit about that and she said it took about 10 invites before she realised this person was just not into her!

Confession - I am like that lady. I am also usually the initiator (that's why I love when others do the initiating) and I'm sure I'm so focussed on making the plan that I'm not picking up signals that people are just not that into me.

I can think of at least 2 - 3 examples where that has happened... 

2. A work colleague once said to me that the way she tests (not in a bad way, just if she feels like she's putting in a lot of effort and doesn't feel reciprocity) a friendship is she stops contributing as much for a time. E.g. texts, emails, calls.

Sometimes the other person contacts her back and all is well.

When it doesn't happen, she considers that relationship unequal and she (unlike me) has strong friendship boundaries, so she has a "oh well, that wasn't a very strong friendship then" attitude to it all and lets it go.

(at this point I gasped!)

She actually said to me, "stop doing so much" and "if the fire's only there because you're adding wood, will it die if you stop or will others add some wood too?"

Hmmm. I didn't even want to think about it when she said this but then -

This is exactly what the Boundaries book said.

And here is where I go wrong - I think, "but I need to make more effort" but do I?

The book said ultimately it is good even if your friends don't stoke the (friendship) fire, because then you do know that your friendship wasn't one of connection but was one of convenience because you were always there, reaching out. It required no effort of the other person.

He makes the point that in a relationship (spousal), you would never want your partner to be with you simply because it's convenient. You'd want them to want to be with you for YOU - who you are, your special gifts, spark, energy, enthusiasm, etc.

So true.


3. Back to that podcast.

The lady I related to lives in LA and said that travel is a challenge for them due to the distances but they make it work.

And you know what? I've been making excuses all the time because of friends and distances but this is Jhb and we're used to travelling 30 minutes to get anywhere, right? Moreover, some people travel further.

Two of my work colleague travel from one end of Jhb to the other, and from Pta to Jhb regularly to visit their friends, and vice versa.

I'm prepared to travel to meet up with friends and (now, since Boundaries and that podcast) I don't think it's unreasonable to expect reciprocity.

Where am I going with this?

Just that I realise I've had some boundary issues and I need to work on them.

Your thoughts?

PS This post is far too long. At some point we need to talk  some more about how social media affects friendship. Here's the podcast for those who are interested.
PPS these are recent pics of some friends


  1. Food for thought! I need to "stew" on this

    1. Stew away :) I'd love to hear what you think afterwards!

  2. So much to ponder about my own friendships. The friend of convenience bit is very telling.

  3. I also need to think about this. I was busy lamenting this weekend on how I feel I have no friends for a quick visit - granted - often its very late minute - as in on Saturday morning I realize I have a gap Saturday afternoon for lunch and then it's just impossible. I can not even think who to ask.

  4. I read this book many, many years ago and think I need to give it a re-read. This post has also made me think a lot. I find that I am a bit of both, I initiate a bit and I also have initiators a bit in my friendship circle. I do have one or two friends who I have to do the step back thing to see if they actually contact me cos it feels like I am constantly doing the "talking" "initiating" "inviting" "whatsapping" etc etc etc. I am VERY bad at walking away from friendships. I think I've only ever done it twice in my lifetime. Both times it hurt like hell and I think it effected me way more than it did the person I "walked away" from.

    I like Cat find that I am lacking in that "pop in friend" or "last minute friend" category as well. I also find that I am in a space in my life right now where I don't have that "BFF" who I would tell EVERYTHING to and know that I could or would call or ask them to help at any given time. That makes me sad.

  5. I agree with Funso and Cat...I need to think about this. Maybe I don't initiate enough.

  6. No 2 resonated with me. A friend of mine recently said to me "I know you don't do attachment friendships" - I had to LOL because I really don't but there a few people who I do reach out to, in my own way to maintain the connection.

    Sometimes I think my boundaries are too strict. D doesn't do boundaries much - he never grew up with them so he just goes with stuff - I don't cope well with that!


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