"Heartbreaking but necessary": 15 women on the boundaries they had to set with their friends.

'Boundaries' is most definitely the buzzword of 2021.

Women like Sally Hepworth and Glennon Doyle have shared their own 'rules' for life in order to put themselves and their wellbeing first: something many of us have been conditioned not to do. 

So, whether it is relationship boundaries, parenting boundaries or work boundaries, we're keen to know more.

Which is why we asked the Mamamia community to share the 'rules' they've set in their own lives when it comes to their mates.

But first, watch: Best friends translated. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Here's what 15 women do to make their friendships healthier and happier:

Don't be late:

"My friends know that if they are 10 minutes or more late, I will leave. There is nothing that irritates me more than someone who is late without any excuse or giving a 'heads up' message. I mean, I have two young kids, so time is pretty precious."

When it comes to very serious cases of mental health, seek professional support:


"Previously I had an emotional breakdown. With most of my friends and loved ones, we now have an understanding that if they think I need to reach out and get professional support, then I will listen to them. But with one of my friends, she herself has recently had a rough mental health episode. I had to put a hard boundary in place with her that if she wasn't prepared to get the support she needs through professional channels, then I couldn't be that person for her. I hated having to make the decision, but it was important for my own wellbeing."

Don't talk about conservative politics:

"One of my closest friends since high school (going back a few decades now) isn't the most progressive of individuals. She's quite religious and conservative, and that point of view really came across during the Gay Marriage Plebiscite. It was after that point in time we made a mutual agreement not to discuss politics or social issues: our conversations are now very one-dimensional, and if I'm honest, the friendship has suffered since, but at least we're able to keep things relatively friendly and not confrontational. Kind of heartbreaking, but necessary." 

Image: Getty.


We keep our friendship and mutual business plans separate: 

"I am famously shocking at setting boundaries: I always say yes to things when I'm exhausted and should be resting. But I managed to set up a fairly healthy boundary with my business partner/bestie. We have two WhatsApp channels: one for work, and one for everything else. This means that if I get pinged on the work one outside of working hours then I have full permission to ignore and address later on when I'm 'online'. And if I get a notification from the other channel, then I know it's just my mate probably sending a dumb meme or making plans for a wine night. It was super hard to get into the flow of it, but it's evened out now and works really well for us."

Let me say no:


"I had to learn it’s okay to walk away from friendships when they didn’t respect my boundaries. If I ever said no to a certain person for whatever circumstance, they would go to others in the friendship circle and say I was being unreasonable. As a person who is told my best trait is my compassion, saying no was also my biggest weakness. Definitely had to learn that it’s okay to say no, and I don’t need to bend over backwards for people."

Listen to The Undone: Why friendship breakups are worse than romantic ones. Post continues after audio.

Kid's birthday parties are a no for me:

"I don't do kid's birthday parties. I'll drop my kids off to them, but my friends shouldn't expect me to attend their four-year-old's pirate-themed birthday bash."

If boundaries are needed in my friendships, it's not a good sign:

"A really important aspect of friendship is an equality of give and take and a mutual understanding and appreciation of each other. I've learnt in my own experiences that if I really need to set boundaries with a close friend, then maybe that is a friendship I need to steer clear from."

My sex life is private:

"A lot of women my age like to talk about their sex lives, but me personally, I feel it's too private. I don't at all judge those who do choose to chat about their sexcapades, but my partner would feel uncomfortable if I were to share the overt details. I had to have a conversation with two of my friends in particular, and let them know it's a hard boundary for me."


We don't do Christmas presents:

"My friends and I don't do Christmas presents: it's too expensive and takes up too much of our time trying to shop. So instead, we do Christmas cards and I love it. I've even started implementing the gift ban in my family. The young adults in my family now know when they turn 21 they won't receive anymore Christmas presents from me, only a card."

Image: Getty.


Consider one another's mental loads:

"I recently moved to a new city, so most of my friends are interstate. When I went into lockdown this year and they didn't, I found myself completely overwhelmed trying to manage my own mental health. I'm usually someone my friends know they can lean on, but during this time I had to set a boundary and just say, 'I love you guys but I need you to know I can't take anything else on right now.' It was hard, because I know they also had stuff on their plates, but I think it made our friendship stronger in the long run. Nowadays I think we're all a bit better at checking how the other person is doing before we add more to their mental load."

After 9pm don't contact me:

"I never respond to text messages, emails, socials, calls past 9pm. I'm pretty strict with my friends when it comes to that rule of mine."

Religion is a no-go subject to talk about with me:

"My best friend is an atheist, and I was raised Catholic, so we tend to have differing views on religion. We are both moderate in our politics, but when it comes to believing in God, we are on opposite ends of the spectrum. After constant little put-downs about my faith, I decided to straight out suggest that neither of us bring up religion in our conversations, and from then on it's been great."


Listen to Mamamia Out Loud: An unpopular opinion about boundaries. Post continues after audio.

Don't pressure me to drink wine with you:

"I have been sober for two years now, and at the start of that journey my fellow mum friends didn't seem to understand the gravity of my decision. We would still occasionally go for long lunches, and with that usually came a bottle of wine. So when I started to say no to the wine, they must have felt a little defensive at first because they kept saying 'it's just one glass, have it'. But I was firm and I'm glad I kept that boundary in place with them: never offer a sober friend alcohol."

I don't want to be on your social media:

"Call me old-fashioned, but lots of my friends are quite fanatical about posting on Facebook, whether it be updates about their lives, kids, family, or friends. And I have had to make it clear with some that I am not interested in being featured on someone's social media page, as it just isn't my thing. I even have the boundary in place with my daughter's Facebook/Instagram (and whatever else) as well."

Respect my relationship:

"When it comes to comments about my relationship, I make sure to set a boundary that if I'm upset about a general fight between my partner and I, I don’t need them to convince me to break up with them (unless of course it’s necessary). I just need someone to listen and help me articulate my thoughts. Also, it’s okay to maintain a level of privacy. Just because they’re my friend doesn’t mean they have a right to know everything happening in my life."


Image: Getty.

Let us know in the comments if you have ever had to put boundaries in place in your friendships or relationships.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.

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