Friendships: Do You Have Boundaries?

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Because I’m not writing this post on April Fool’s Day, I’m going to bypass the nonsense and write a serious post. I know, what a shock coming from me.

My bible study is currently doing a study on boundaries called Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. THIS IS NOT A RELIGIOUS POST, I’m simply providingboundaries context. I thought it might be helpful for you all to understand why this particular topic is on my mind.

Boundaries is a thought provoking study and one I wish I’d read about twenty years ago. For those of you who are Christians and have young adults in your life, I’d highly recommend this book and the accompanying study. But I digress…

We recently discussed the section on friendship and in a group of approximately twenty women it was a lively debate. When I looked back over the years and analyzed my friendships, I realize I’ve become much more selective in choosing and maintaining friendships. When I brought this up to the group, we all (a group of women ranging in age from mid-30’s to mid 50’s) realized the same.

I had a college roommate who was a very close friend. We don’t live near one another and we used to talk on the phone every few months. I used to wonder why I felt so dissatisfied after every conversation, but never gave it much thought until she called my son by the wrong name. I have two children—one boy and one girl—and she couldn’t remember their names? After this lightening bolt moment, I realized the only time she called me was when she had something to brag about—new job, new car, new home, whatever. Other than those times, I was calling her out of a sense of obligation.

I suspect this is when I first began weighing my friendships and cutting off the dead weight. Now that I’m writing, I have to judiciously organize my time so I’m not frittering away the day on people who add nothing to my life when I could be adding words to the page.

Which leads me to a question for our WU readers: How have your friendships changed in the last 20 +/- years? If you’re too young to answer this question, do yourself a favor and read the boundaries book!


About Christy Hayes

A wife, a mother and a writer of romantic women's fiction. I love dogs, exercise and cable news.

Posted on April 1, 2013, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Ten to twenty years ago, my “friends” were made up of parents of my children’s friends. Some of those relations have survived and others have not, but that’s okay. Like you, I’ve tried to cut out the relationships that need a lot of work to maintain. It makes me sad to see these relationships flounder, but the energy it took to keep those connections just drained me. I’ll have to read the book, Christy.

  2. I know I was skeptical about meeting new women in New York 2 years ago, but that’s been one of best things I’ve done in a long time. Lucky for me, Susan’s not afraid of pushing the boundary.

    • Christy Hayes

      We are all grateful Susan’s not afraid to push the boundary, Laura! The good thing about cutting out those who add nothing to your life is that you always have room for more friends 🙂

  3. Since having two kids I didn’t devote time to making friends. My life has been about my family. My two best friends are my two sisters. We are close in age and our relationship really means something to me. When I have met women over the last several years I find they are all about “me, me, me” and I may as well have been a stick in the mud since I said but a few words during our “conversations”. So, I am jaded with regard to a lot of the women I’ve met. I want someone in my life who wants to know about me, too, and not have our talks so one-sided. I feel closer to my hair stylist who is a gay man than I do to some of the people who have purportedly wanted to be my friend.

    • Friendships at any age are hard. I watch my thirteen year old daughter navigate through friendships and I’m glad those years are over! You’ll know when you hit a good one, Patti. Don’t give up hope. And online friendships are nice, too 🙂

  4. Oh yes, there are friendships that grow with you and there are friendships that you outgrow…however there are “friends” who you never really know… “and that was the moment when I abruptly realized I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT HER…her parents address, where she worked AND THAT WAS IT…

    Looking back, I should have just shrugged it off, but at that moment I felt betrayed…she knew every single aspect of my life and I knew nothing about her…” this is an excerpt from a post I wrote on this same topic… It hurts but it’s also liberating to accept when a friendship is more a drain than an emotional booster… Thanks for the book recommendation, Alexandra

    • Christy Hayes

      Nice to know I’m not alone. I love the way you said, “there are friendships that grow with you and there are friendships that you outgrow.” It’s a good way to look at friendships.

  5. You are most definitely not alone…My sister-friend and I often talk about how we’ve seen our list of friends become shorter and shorter as we’ve refined our value of the term friendship, what we want, expect and are willing to give to it…reciprocity, I feel, is key 🙂

  6. People grow and evolve and I think it’s very rare to have a friendship that lasts decades. Since my boys were young, I’ve had a full time day job and during all that time, I wrote. My best friends were my co-workers at the day job and I loved our friendships because they were full of sharing and caring about one another.

  7. Oh, I relate! Especially to the particular friendship you mentioned. I’ve pulled away from someone I used to be very close with, because it was a one-sided relationship: Her side. It’s very difficult to have a balanced and satisfying friendship with one who is self-absorbed and doesn’t sincerely care about your life.

    There is a point when we have the right to say “enough is enough.” It’s about doing what’s right for ourselves, and if it means letting go of a friendship that no longer holds worth, so be it.

    The book sounds like a great one. Thanks for sharing, Christy!

  8. I enjoyed reading the comments, and relating to them. A common thread seems to be friendships that go sour because they were one-sided. Glad to know others share the same trouble. Now, if all of us who know how to give as well as take could just meet, we’d have a great group of true friends!

    My problem has always been that I’m very loyal, so even when a friendship is unfulfilling (such as they don’t take the same interest in me or my life), I keep hanging in there and end up getting hurt. But I’m happy to say, as I’m in my mid-forties now, I’m much better at walking away when needed.

    My mom used to say: “You should be able to count your true friends on one hand.” 🙂

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