Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Keep your hands to yourself (Friends)

I thought I would start today with a great video of clips of everyone's favorite family member with boundary issues -- Eddie from the National Lampoon's Vacation movies! I hope you all enjoy the video and then read all about "Boundaries with your friends!"

Having boundaries with your friends can be so difficult as you really do care about them and want them to have a place to go. There is a drastic difference, however, in having a place to go and having a place to dump everything. There is such a fine line that sometimes it takes real discretion to figure out where that line is. According to Cloud & Townsend, a friend is a person who you "have a non-romantic relationship that is attachment-based rather than function based." Function based friends would be those that you work with, do ministry with, etc... Attachment based friends are those that you just want to be with.

Having heard that definition, I would ask you to list the people in your life that you view as "friends."

Do these people give to you as much as you give to them? Are any of the comfortable and easy? Are others a lot of work and seem "lop-sided?"

When I was going through my own journey to establish boundaries I did an exercise that I will encourage all of you to do. Take Inventory....

Make a list, as stated above, and then decide which ones feel like fulfilling, mutual relationships. These are the friendships that are worth keeping and investing in. The other ones are the relationships that you want to evaluate and decide if they should take less of you.

Another big question that I think is so powerful to ask yourself in friendships is as stated by Cloud & Townsend "What keeps you connected to these friends?"

For me, often I would find that what kept me connected was a sense of duty and obligation. Now that I have worked through my list and invested in those friendships that are mutual, comfortable, and healthy I find that I stay in connection with these people because I want to invest in their lives in the same beautiful way they invest in mine.

I would love for everyone to answer this question for yourselves and share with the blog by comment if you wish.

What is the best friendship you have like? What kinds of things do you feel make it healthy and happy? What is the worst relationship you have like? What makes it so uncomfortable?

I look forward to your feedback and stay tuned to the blog for the next post which will be "Boundaries with Your Spouse/significant other"

Also, don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the boundaries posts for Cloud & Townsend's Boundary workbook!


  1. I think a friend CAN be someone you are romantically attached to, but it is deeper than just being friends because you love them. Toby is undoubtedly my best friend. Yeah, I married him, and of course I love him & have a romantic relationship with him...BUT, he is also my best friend & if we weren't romantically attached I'd still want to hang out with him. Having said that, I completely agree with the "taking stock of your life & the people in it" idea. I did this a few years ago. At first it's sad to discover how few REAL friends we actually have in this life. However, it is also freeing and empowering to shed the negative & all-take-no-give relationships from your life. It's a kind of de-cluttering of your personal life & it can change your whole perspective. At least it did mine. Some relationships, no matter how much effort I put into them, were never going to be true give & take relationships where both parties could grow as individuals & enjoy one another as friends. These relationships cost me valuable time & effort that I felt would be better spent on other relationships that WERE worth having. I "shed" a lot of so-called friends & I learned to love myself & truly value the TRUE relationships I do have. It may sound harsh, but I'm a firm believer it's good for everyone involved. I don't need a bunch of fair-weather friends & I don't want to be that kind of friend either.

    Great post, Erica!

  2. Terra,

    Absolutely our spouses are our friends but from the perspective of this post it would not be appropriate to CUT OUT a spouse if they were testing your boundaries therefore they could not be covered in this post for me. For me, Marriage is a covenant relationship so I chose to seperate it in terms of boundaries and I will write on boundaries with our spouses on the next post. I hope this kind of clarifies where I was coming from. I completely agree. My Anthony is my best friend in the world. It is nice to have that. I am glad you enjoyed the post and glad you have taken inventory! :)