Supportive friendships are a lifeline for many of us, especially when we face various challenges in our love lives. Friends provide us with much-needed perspective when we overanalyze, offer reassurance when we feel insecure, and build us up when others disappoint us. And we are eager to help each other with our relationship problems because mutual support is essential to strong and healthy friendships.
But sometimes, we may feel that the help we offer is not enough, not satisfying, or not helping our friends. No matter how much we try, the time and energy that we invest fail to improve the situation and drain the resources we need for our own well-being. Perhaps we stay up too late on the phone with our distraught friends each night, cancel our appointments to be available whenever a crisis comes up, or are invested in a plan of action that they refuse to adopt. Maybe our determination to fix their love lives even creates discord in the relationships with the very friends we are trying to help.
Because of these pitfalls, we need to set boundaries while offering our friends meaningful support. Boundaries allow us to pay attention to our own feelings, time constraints, and energy levels to ensure that we don’t end up frustrated, disappointed, and alienated from our friends. Fortunately, we can be mindful of both our needs and our friends’ needs by making a few adjustments to how we respond: