Establishing clear limits can make or break a relationship
Let me start by saying I was never great at setting healthy boundaries with friends or family. Maybe that's because I never really needed to do it when I was younger. However, when I became an adult, I found that friendships with people you care about can fail simply from a lack of boundaries. Every person and relationship is different and some require more time and attention than others. I realized that my inability to set limits with certain personalities was a huge driving force in the demise of certain friendships and I needed to make a change. After many tears and self-reflection, I had to figure out how to properly navigate boundaries with my own personality to avoid broken relationships.
Some of the best parts of getting older are the wisdom gained from the experiences we face. The starting point for personal growth for me is looking at myself first; my mistakes and what role I played in a failed relationship or situation. It's not easy to do that, but fortunately, I have a solid group of women and my husband that care enough to tell me the truth, even if it's hard to hear. When discussing my frustrations with specific relationships the general consensus among all of us circles back to one area I seem to struggle in, healthy boundaries.
I am an all-in person so even though I keep my circle of friends small, I will love you like family and do whatever is needed to see you thrive. The problem with "doing whatever is needed" can become overwhelming and unhealthy when not approached with boundaries. I learned that the hard way. The bottom line is, I sometimes do too much.
I have never thought of myself as a selfish person. When I give to someone, whether it's my time, money or love I've never expected anything in return. Yet, I found when I over gave of myself, without any limits, I did begin to expect something and I began resenting the person when I didn't get it. "It" wasn't necessarily anything tangible, however, my resentment came due to the relationship becoming one-sided. I now recognize that sometimes in life people don't have the ability to give back equally, and that's okay. However, that is why setting appropriate boundaries is so important and ultimately what can make or break a relationship.
Understanding other people's boundaries and limits have helped me to set my own even if it feels completely unnatural. Being willing to learn and change the way I approach relationships has helped focus those once blurred lines between what is helpful and hurtful in a relationship. In doing so, I've become a better friend and more self-aware. Taking responsibility for my own actions helps me to not repeat unhealthy tendencies like trying to be everything to someone. I've also learned that the way to acquire balance in friendships is knowing when to step back. It was a painful yet eye-opening process for me but one that will serve me well in the future. My relationships from here on out are only as strong as the boundaries I put in place for myself. And even if the boundaries result in a major shift or change for the relationship, in the long run, knowing and respecting your limits will still undoubtedly be the healthiest and happiest life lesson worth investing in.