Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
How high are your boundaries with friends?(12 Posts)
Do you have high boundaries when you meet someone that they have to cross before you consider them to be a friend?
I have boundaries with friends in that I will, and have, ditch friends if they do something that warrants that, but I do struggle with boundaries initially and as a result end up letting people into my life that actually aren't that pleasant.
How do you go about deciding if someone is worth being friends with? What warning signs do you have that would put you off someone?
I have recently had a not so great experience with a friend who turned out not to be a friend but to be a total bitch instead, and so I need some tips on how to tighten boundaries.
I would not make any new friends now. Not that I would let infiltrate my life.
I keep my friends that I've had for 20 years plus and that'll do me.
I moved to a new area and made three new friends. They all turned out to be a disaster! Two of them didn't have any friends so they latched on to me and I was too weak to realise. One attacked me on a night out, because a guy she fancied, actually flirted with me. One slept with my then husband. This was the woman who actually did have a lot of friends, and she was sleeping with a few of their husbands! The other turned out to be a raging alcoholic, who started turning up at my house all hours of the day and night, blind drunk and half dressed. Total and utter nightmare. I cut them all loose and things are nice and normal again.
Never again. People in their 30's/40's who have no friends....there's a reason. Avoid!
I'm quite open to making new friends. I am alert to people making judgey comments that does put me off people quite quickly. A friend of a friend who on paper I should have got along with made comments about mums who work full time and it really put me off becoming friends with her.
With established friebds if they do something to let me down or do something I don't like I limit contact and withdraw, I think I've always done that as a defence mechanism I just close in. Friends should enhance your life not drain it so if you've got toxic friends OP time to rethink them.
I don't have any set boundaries and do have quite a lot of very valued friends. For what it's worth here are a few thoughts:
People become friends really quite slowly. Those who you begin to get friendly with but then realise aren't really your type drift away.
Friends are not and cannot be all things. Some are great fun, others good listeners, others great in a crisis. I don't get cross that someone who is great to be with on social occasions doesn't drop everything to help out when I'm struggling. Just not the way she is.
Other friends are old ones I rarely see. Some of them are pretty awful at staying in touch but that's ok, I like them and when we do meet its nice. So I refuse to do that offended thing that I always make all the effort.
Even my best friend, who has been amazing to me has other priorities. Her DC and dh always come first. Sometimes that can be mildly annoying if it cuts into our plans and seems trivial but I fully understand that's how it is and accept it.
Does that help at all? I guess in saying that if you like someone you accept the way they are. Not one of my friends is ever rude to me. They tend to be quite reliable and I tend to be quite tolerant. But these are real friends. Anyone who I was just getting to know that was upsetting me would get quietly ditched. In fact that did happen recently. I met a group on a course and afterwards we met for coffee once a month. Then I realised I really didn't like most of them so now I just see one lady occasionally.
I drop toxic friends but I think my main problem is that I'm not a great judge of character so I tend to let anyone and everyone be my 'friend' and am then upset when they don't behave in a friend-like way, and of course it ends up being more dramatic distancing from someone who is a friend rather than just keeping distance from a casual acquaintance doesn't it?
I have recently had a really bad experience where someone who I thought was a friend behaved in an awful way and I have had to completely cut her off and just ignore her now, and I wish I'd realised before I let her into my life what she was like.
I'm open to making friends too and although I'm not conscious of boundaries, I get put off people who moan a lot, judge other people and are generally negative.
I would also be wary of someone who wanted a lot of my time or asked a lot of favours without returning any.
Good point above re people who have no friends. There is always a reason. Ditto people who have fallen out with others repeatedly. They follow a pattern without fail. And be wary of anyone who comes full on. Like I said, friendships evolve quite slowly. Unless you are 8 years old and we all know what 8 years old girls' friendships are like.
I think I have higher boundaries for new friends than old. One of my oldest friends is massively tight with money. This would be a red flag for me with a new friend, but because I've known her forever its not a problem.
If she is being a pain over splitting the bill in a restaurant for example I feel I can just be straight with her & tell her she is being ridiculous. She in turn will take me telling her with good grace. I guess neither of us would feel comfortable doing that with a newer friend so it would cause problems
Think that's the same as me OP, unless you give people a chance you don't know whether they can become a friend. I would rather give people a chance though and see how it goes rather than being closed off to making new friends altogether.
Like I said upthread I do have some things I look out for early on like judgey mums and people with a completely different outlook on life- I would weed these people out quite quickly but apart from that I'm open to seeing how things go.
I agree with everything Matilda says.
I believe friendships develop, and that can take time. This doesn't mean you have to be wary of everyone you meet, but that most deeper, or real, friendships can take quite a long time to develop.
And yes, no one can be everything to you. Some friends will be great fun on a night out, some friends will be practical support in a crisis, other friends are just lifelong moral support. Everyone has their own personality and you cannot expect them to be everything in all situations to you.
So a friend who you have a fantastic gossipy time with might be 'useless' when you need something practical - but that shouldn't devalue them as a friend.
I'm not a great judge of character so I tend to let anyone and everyone be my 'friend' and am then upset when they don't behave in a friend-like way
Reading completely between the lines, do you feel as if you overshare with new friends? Or rely on them very quickly after meeting them? Or give them lots of help and favours very soon after meeting them?
I suppose for me, I don't expect to meet a new best friend anymore.
Gosh, I am in my 30's and can honestly say I do not have a best friend. Am I that person to avoid? I don't think so tbh.
I am a very sociable person, but more of a 'flitter' if that makes sense. I do not have time to be 'the best friend' all the time. Athough I am great in a crisis and when people get onto that I tend to be the one providing counsel.
I work FT, have 4 dc, volunteer, parent governor, and study. I also have a wonderful DP who is really my best friend.
My social calendar is quite busy with nights out, and the local pub is where you'll find DP & I every other weekend, most of the girls I know are GFs of DPs (hobby related) mates.
I'm not on the look out for a new bestie, I just don't have the time. I like my life as it is, but I wouldn't say I was one to avoid.
OP, you should just be you.
Don't try to change the way you are in order to establish long lasting friendships, the way you are from the beginning is the person people should want to be mates with.
Agree with PP that no one can be everything, take what you need (and give) in little segments
Like the OP I have quite low boundaries when I first meet someone - after all I never know what someone is really like until something significant has been explored. Although I'd say I pick up quickly on people who are judgemental, have very different views or values to mine (racist, homophobic etc) and I doubt we'd form much of a bond.
I like the phrase "friends for a reason, a season, a lifetime"...
In my interpretation that means that some people may have different opinions and characters but they may be just the person to help out in a difficult situation, or they may be someone who is motivated to get out and exercise when all your other friends are watching TV (friend for a reason). Those friendships may be short lived or they may span many years, but they are limited in the extent to which they are involved in my life and focused around one particular aspect.
Other friendships may develop round particular phases - being a young mother at home with my children, or working in particular jobs (friend for a season). They are much needed during a phase of life when we are affected by similar life circumstances but once we move on from that phase - change career, or children grow up - the friendship may fade.
And some friendships are enduring (friends for a lifetime). They don't need to be the 'best friend' or the friend that I knew from primary school, but they are the friendships that continue on after the 'reason' has been resolved, or the 'season' has passed. I don't think I could have guessed which people would turn into lifetime friends.
I also think it is important never to stop making new friends. I have a 'friend for a reason' who I met when I was in my late 40s, and I recently made a new friend who is in her 60s. It's part of what keeps me vibrant and new to ideas.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.