Set Boundaries with Friends

You typically have three types of friends: 1) the whiners, 2) the ones who think you are their personal assistant, and 3) the ones who do not have goals.

The whiners are similar to the stubborn family member; they really don’t want to listen to you. They will call you all day. They expect you to stop whatever you are doing to listen to them whine about nothing. You give them good advice. They seem to receive it well, but then they turn around and come back for more juice. In other words, they feed off your encouragement. They have no real intention of getting better. They want to stay depressed. They want things to not go well for them. They don’t want their boyfriends or girlfriends to change. They want to wallow, nothing more.

The best method for handling this type of person is start paying attention to the pattern of their calls. Do they call when you say you are about to do something important such as study? Do they call when it appears you want to pursue order and not procrastination? Keep in mind this one thing: whiners typically prevent you from moving forward, because wherever they are emotionally, they also want you to be.

The friend who thinks you are a personal assistant will typically tell you to stop by the store to pick something up or ask if you could pick up an extra application or ask if you could call for information about something or want you to jump up when they call to go somewhere (i.e., shopping, something non-productive). The same feeling you get as you read the previous sentence is the same feeling you get when you have to deal with this person. There is no end in sight to the multitude of things this type of person wants you to do.

It doesn’t matter what it is, this type of friend expects you to rearrange your complete schedule. This type of friend interrupts your process. This is the type of friend who will interrupt you while you are doing your homework and in turn criticize you for making a “C” on that same homework assignment. Friends of this sort position you according to their needs. They get you off your path. They shift your vision (and your mission/goal) to their vision. Therefore, here are two methods for handling this type of friend:

Method #1: Make your schedule known to this friend. For example, tell your friends who call that you are not available between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., MW, because this is the time you have set to study. At the same time you tell your friend this, tell him or her you are available at 5:00 p.m. to talk on these days. Although your friend might resent you in the beginning, he or she will respect this more than you saying, “I will call you later.” Later to them could mean 30 minutes.  Respect your time and make them respect your time also.

Method #2: Make them go pick it up! Make them go pick it up appears to be a harsh statement, but here’s a great example: Your friend needs an admissions application from a local university. She knows that you live about 10 minutes away from the campus, but 10 minutes extends to an hour when you have other things to do. You can handle this issue in two ways.

a) Find out the time of the admissions office, the office location, and tell your friend this: You know that the office is open until 8:00 p.m. That’s enough time for you to go up there and get the application. That will give you enough time also to pick up additional materials and talk to a counselor. I really don’t know what you need. Using this type of response will help you make the person responsible for their emotional and professional development.

b) Get the website address for all this information. Find the specific information your friend needs and encourage him or her to visit the school’s website. This is important to understand, because there is more information on the site than in your head. Quit letting people kick you off your path.

The friends who haven’t established goals will undoubtedly try to prevent you from attaining yours. They will criticize everything you do, belittle your accomplishments, and minimize your abilities. They believe you can’t do what you are dreaming, because they believe they can’t do it. In other words, they speak weakness and they don’t believe in themselves. They are dangerous people to hang around and they have no direction.

They typically don’t care about anything and are extremely complacent about their current situation. Either they are going to pull you over to their side or you are going to pull them over to your side. They usually pull you because you haven’t established a sense of determination or goals for reaching your destiny.

The best method for handling this friend is to understand one thing:  You can’t take everybody with you where you are going.  The longer you hold on to this friend, the more difficult and dangerous it will become to let this person go. This person cannot go where you are going. This person wouldn’t be able to endure the struggle and meet the conflict face to face in the same way you will be able. 

Although it is painful, let them go. People with no goals are like weeds. Weeds grow where they are not wanted; and they suck out the life of a garden. They affect everything around them. Let this person go. If it is hard to do this at the beginning, then develop small steps by first setting firm boundaries. If you don’t, they will be a danger and a hindrance to you when you become a leader.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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