My kid is trying to figure out how they want to talk about a problem they are having. I am impressed with their willingness to see many sides of this issue. “Ok, you are upset about X person doing Y. How often do you do Y? How do you want people to react when you do the thing that is upsetting you right now?”
They are taking it in and thinking seriously about what boundaries and consequences mean. Setting a boundary and having a consequence for a behavior doesn’t have to be done out of anger or spite. It doesn’t have to be done out of hate or vindictiveness. It can be part of loving the other person AND loving yourself.
“Hey, we are friends and I like you but I don’t like when you Y. I need that to change.”
That’s… such a healthy thing. People are going to be challenging to your boundaries FOREVER. That’s never going to stop. The only part that you can control is how you react to people impacting your boundaries. You can say, “When Y happens I’m going to need to go home for the day. We can try again on another day.”
It doesn’t mean you hate the person because they are doing something you have a problem with. How you feel about a person can be separate from how you feel about a behavior. How do we talk about the problem without making it sound like the PERSON is the PROBLEM? Because that’s not true. People aren’t problems. People sometimes have behavior that is a problem.
How do we train each other? How do we teach one another what we can handle and respect? It’s a process. It’s a long, complicated process. It happens one interaction at a time. How do you structure these interactions so that you make progress towards your goal of preserving a friendship plus adding boundaries?
It’s hella complicated. I’m the first person to admit I’m kind of shit at this process.
But I remember the Dear Jane lady from years ago. I “used up all of my chances” without ever knowing that I was using chances.
I don’t want to do that to other people.
It’s a complicated world. People come from a lot of cultures and backgrounds. Folks expect different behavior. The way to ensure that your boundaries are respected is to be willing to walk away if they aren’t. You have no other real recourse. Which is tricky if you need the relationship for some reason.
I am so lucky that I don’t need many people past my nuclear family at this point. It makes it a lot easier to just set boundaries.