Friendship is unlike any other form of human interaction since it is a highly intimate relationship. These connections can be crucial to healing, community building, and, in many ways, spirituality—like a tethering of souls between two individuals who are naturally drawn together. A friendship can flourish in a variety of ways when trust, respect, safety, and reciprocity are present. However, a high level of trust and safety can occasionally lead to a dynamic that is based on a lack of boundaries. Creating those limits may be crucial for both parties involved, as well as the quality of the friendship in issue, for anyone who has ever felt that their friend sees them like a therapist first and a friend second.
We live at a time when many of us are becoming vocal champions for our mental health, which is leading us to seek therapy and speak more freely about our problems, troubles, and setbacks. While this is wonderful, it’s also vital to recognise that not everyone is intellectually capable of dealing with and managing our own personal emotional problems. Keeping this in mind, keep in mind that your companion is not a substitute for treatment. You also don’t have to act as a therapist for your pal.
Your pal isn’t a substitute for therapy. You also don’t have to act as a therapist for your pal.
The harsh reality is that no matter how much we care about and want to help our friends, we won’t always have the energy, finances, availability, education, or insight to address their mental-health problems. You have permission to not be everything to your friend since no one person can be everything to you.
With this in mind, it’s critical to let your buddy know that you’re not qualified to act as their therapist in order to protect both your mental health and your friendship. Three techniques to set limits with a friend are listed below.
If you think your friend is treating you like a therapist, set three boundaries.
1. Be clear about your boundaries.
People with inadequate boundaries will manifest in their behaviours and expectations of others, no matter how much we want our friends to know better. And, because your friend won’t know your boundaries unless you tell him, it’s crucial to be honest about them.
We sometimes wait for others to figure out facts that we have the ability to share before we act. Be willing to share your personal boundaries.
2. Make recommendations for additional resources
While it is not your obligation to conduct other people’s healing work, you may be aware of helpful resources that your friend in need is unaware of. For example, if you can refer a friend to a certain therapist, therapy group, or support group that you believe will be beneficial, that may resonate and assist you in establishing good boundaries.
If you have a resource in mind that you think a friend would benefit from, use supportive language to help clarify your boundaries while recommending it. For example, “I recognise that I lack the knowledge or experience to assist or advise you, but I sincerely wish to encourage you.” I’m aware of a resource named x, and I think it would be beneficial for you to contact them for extra assistance.”
3. Be truthful about your abilities.
When we see our friends in distress, it’s only natural that we want to help them as much as we can. However, we must be open and honest with our friends about our limitations and whether or not we are the right person to provide support and assistance.
It’s also important to be honest with ourselves since, unless you’re a skilled therapist, you could be offering your friend inappropriate advice and promoting unhealthy habits or mental processes. Most essential, when your friend is in a difficult position that may necessitate more intensive care, you must be willing to recognise when it is time to pull aside for their sake.
Friendships, in the end, don’t come with a manual. There are numerous methods to support a buddy that do not necessitate self-sacrifice. If helping others is causing you damage, it’s time to rethink how much you’re giving to others and how you might need to start giving to yourself. When there is honesty and transparency, but most importantly, reasonable expectations, strong friendships last.
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