This past weekend, I was speaking at an event just north of New York City. During my presentation, I addressed the importance of setting personal boundaries in relationships. I noticed one young woman with a quizzical expression, so I asked her if she had a question. She nodded. “What is wrong with ‘making’ something okay with me?” At that point, I shared my own experience of what can happen in a friendship—or any relationship for that matter—when we don’t draw clear boundaries.

In my case, I had a very close friend, a woman whose friendship I treasured. She accepted me for who I am—even with all my warts, scars, and chatty mouth. We were your proverbial “buds” and spent significant time with each other. I believed I was proving my gratitude for our relationship by agreeing to situations that in some cases, caused me to feel unincluded or invisible. Although I knew I should speak up, I didn’t because I loved her. Plus, in each case, my issues were the little things. For example, on several occasions, I agreed to be the designated driver when I would have liked to share a drink with our friends. Other times, I drove to her house when it would have been easier for me if she came in my direction. And more times than I can count, I answered the phone when what I needed was an evening of solitude. In time, I began to feel resentful, but each time I felt resentment rising, I reprimanded myself and made excuses not only for her but for myself. I knew I should speak up, but on the other hand, I worried that I was being a “baby” or worse, that I was acting selfishly. The simple fact is that in all cases, I had a choice. I […]