Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?

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zak

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Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?
« on: February 13, 2021, 07:57:08 PM »
I've 63 and have been coming OOTF for some years and I think continue to get get clearer, stronger and better. Sure, there are triggered times like right now but overall, life is much calmer. My trigger now is two long-term friends.

Four years ago my husband and I moved to a small beachside village quite close to where we'd lived for over 30 years. At first it was hard as this new place is small and close-kit so it's taken quite a lot of courage and effort to join things like walking groups and community groups to find our feet and start to integrate. Now, we are feeling more part of community and while I wouldn't say we have lots of friends, we do know a lot of people and have a nice social life. I think this is threatening for two friends that have been in my life for 30+ years. I think they feel threatened that our lives have changed significantly and for the better.

I should say both these people grew up with a PD parent and have fleas themselves. I had both parents PD and 3 out of 5 siblings. I was the SG so I think the genesis of my friendship with these two people really was that they felt familiar. Both have always felt like friends but with a 'dark' element where I'd get put down or judged fairly often and in true SG style; I'd be very hurt but would stay silent. Over the past few years, I've become much stronger and have started pushing back when those comments were made. I've consciously been trying to reset boundaries. I think this is the second element that is threatening them both.

One friend, a woman has reacted by distancing herself i.e fewer contacts of any kind, boosting her social media with lots of posts about 'new' friends, which I think are mainly targeted at me. The message I'm getting is that I've been discarded. I'm actually quite hurt that after so many years, she feels my only worth was to be someone she could step on to boost herself. Once I stopped allowing her to step on me, I'm not wanted. I feel hurt and triggered by being abandoned.

The other friend, a man who is a cousin of my husbands is more important to me. He's reacted very differently. He and his husband live in a big city an hour away and they come and stay for 2-3 days quite often and as we're all retired, would bring wine and food to contribute; now they've started to  bring very little while he has started making strange, what I call bewildered innocent comments like " Oh we haven't really brought enough", to which we are supposed to say that's OK. I've been caught off-guard by this and so far haven't know how to respond; but after 4-5 visits I'm quite over it. It feels off and manipulative and kind of passive aggressive (money is not an issue). He will call me whenever he wants to unload about something and it's common to be on the phone with him for up to an hour. In the past that's been a two way street but last week he called when I was feeling quite tired and flat and when I mentioned that he said 'No point telling me your problems; I'm so up that we're about to go on holiday". I felt like I'd been slapped down and have been feeling angry and used since. Also, several months ago my iPhone suddenly died and I knew he and his husband have heaps of old phones so I asked if they had an old one I could have. They offered me a six year old phone which I said was fine, but several weeks later insisted that I pay $250 for it. They knew I had a travel voucher to a luxury hotel with breakfast, wine etc that I'd bought for $250 but which was worth a lot more and had yet to use. They suggested that I 'pay' for the phone with that, and in the end I gave it to them I was so upset. On another occasion recently we went away to a holiday rental that this friend chose but which was very expensive. I could tell he was itching to get there first and when we arrived they had taken the best room, leaving us with a much lower standard room. There was no chance to flip for it or discuss changing rooms through the week. Again the 'innocent' comment " Oh both rooms are lovely, you're happy with yours aren't you?" 

This friend can be quite mercenary with others but he'd not been like this with us till recently so I'm wondering if it's a reaction to our new life and my standing up to his oh so well meant put downs that till last year I wouldn't have challenged.

I know that having a conversation about what's been happening with either friend will not end well. Fleas will start jumping and no doubt denial, anger, gas-lighting, escalation would result. At the same time, I'd like them both to stop acting-out. I do feel pretty stressed, triggered and  intimidated by the idea of any open discussion but at the same time, I'm just over it.

I really don't know how to resolve this with either. It's easy to say let them go but not so easy to do. The woman friend lives in our old town just a short distance away and the male is my husband's cousin and has been in my life since I was 15. I think the real issue is I have changed and we have changed our lives by moving.

Has anyone successfully navigated anything similar ?



« Last Edit: February 13, 2021, 08:03:15 PM by whole hearted »

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notrightinthehead

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Re: Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2021, 04:00:21 AM »
I have recently also evaluated my social circle and realized that all my life I thought so much more about what others think of me and very little what I think of others.  It was so important for me that others like and accept me, that I hardly ever stopped to think if I actually like them.  Since I look deep down inside and check if I actually like the other person, there are several people that I am not that interested in having contact with anymore. I have reduced my contact with them to texting and that rarely. One of them is a lady that I went to school with.

Having said that, from what you say about your relative, it seems pretty obvious to me that you feel that he is taking advantage of you and then rubbing your face in it too.  That would make me very angry.  And my new self would consider not letting him know this as not standing up for myself, not being honest.  I know how scary it is to take the courage to say something. However, you seem to be quite aware of your feelings in that moment,  so maybe you could just try saying something next time.
Like in the example of the rented room, you could have said something along the lines, "actually, now that you ask, I am not happy with the room. I would prefer yours."  Short and sweet. Just an expression of your feelings.  No attack on him. But authentic and honest.
And in the example with the visits, you could say "You are right, you bring very little." I could think of a lot of passive aggressive remarks in that situation,  but they would not contribute to the improvement of the relationship.  What might help is a shopping list, however,  you text him a long list of things he should bring, because he comes from a city and you are in the countryside, so it is that much easier for him. A box of that excellent wine,  some caviar, whatever you fancy.
You see where I am going with this - since I started to ask people for what I want and tell them what I need my relationships have become more honest. And some people just have faded away because they cannot cope with the new me. And that is fine too.
Good luck! And please keep us updated on your progress.
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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Bloomie

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Re: Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2021, 12:58:27 PM »
whole hearted - what a lovely new life you have built for yourself in your new community! It takes a great deal of courage to grow and change like you have done.

I have navigated similar things in relationships that were established very early in my life when I was not expecting a reasonable level of reciprocity and mutually respectful interactions from others. It is painful and disconcerting.

For me, kindly set boundaries with the things I have control over and refusing to take things personally as an inner boundary have been good litmus tests for if the relationship can sustain continued close contact now that my standards for myself have changed.

Example... next time you are scheduling a visit with your H's cousin in your home be specific about what you would like them to contribute to meals and such. If planning a joint vacation home rental you could state something like... it will be our turn to choose our bedroom first this time since you did last time.

I have learned that is what kind people do. They communicate clearly and directly to give the other person the best chance of knowing what we are thinking or what matters to us.

Regarding the other friend you believe you are in the discard phase with... if FB or Insta (and I am not asking, just suggesting) you could snooze their account or unfollow her account without unfriending or blocking so you do not see the posts and let her initiate contact if/when she wants and use medium chill and polite casual conversation if you run into her in the community.

You can refuse to take her behavior personally - even if it is targeted toward you. You do not have to pick it up and put it in your knapsack and let it weigh on you. You can emotionally release her with love and let her carry her own stuff around.

I am practicing acknowledging the real feelings, triggers, and the frustrations with behaviors from long term friends that are opportunistic or entitled and then to discern if this is someone who can adjust to the changes in me and if we can grow healthier in our interactions and if not. I work at refusing bitterness and being grateful for the things we have shared and meant to each other.

I am going to say that for me, in light of me coming Out of the FOG most often the relationship fades away or fractures as I refuse to go back to my old way of fawning and keeping the peace and the relationship at any cost to me. That is what so many of those older relationships were predicated upon. I own my part of that, but I also have put down those ways of coping and relating because they are not serving me well.

Like notright... these relationships were established before I ever even questioned if I liked or enjoyed the person or knew I had a choice in the matter. We don't have to cut others off per se, but I have found that when I change and become more empowered and heathy within a relationship it does destabilize it for awhile and some people can handle that and some cannot.

Let us know how things are going and how you are doing processing all of this!
« Last Edit: February 14, 2021, 12:59:59 PM by Bloomie »

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Wilderhearts

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Re: Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2021, 04:03:47 PM »
It's happened a few times in my life that I've developed better boundaries, and communicated somehow to friends that how they're treating me isn't up to my standards.  I want to be treated better.  How they respond has shown me if they have the character and fortitude to hold themselves accountable, and challenge themselves to grow as people.  Several friends haven't, and in those instances, I've chosen myself and to let friendships fade away, because my self-esteem and peace is too high a cost to pay to maintain a friendship.  Those were friendships of 5-15 years, so I imagine it must be incredibly hard to change how much you invest in 30+ year friendships.

I would say you already have reset boundaries in your friendships!  You push back, you express your needs and expectations (even if you don't express them every time).  However, these friends have shown where their boundaries are as well - what they are willing and not willing to do.  They're not willing to be more considerate and conscientious of their own accord.  Now it's your turn to decide what you will and will not do in response to the lack of consideration - I agree with the others that clear and direct communication is the kindest, and most likely to have the best outcome.  If it doesn't, perhaps it is also time to practice distancing yourself.  It certainly doesn't sound like this situation requires that you be the one to put in more effort.

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zak

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Re: Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2021, 08:41:43 PM »
Thanks so much for the advice. I do know this stuff, but when triggered it gets lost. I've hidden my female friends social media so it's helpful just not to see it. There's been no contact for some weeks now, so I'm just going with the flow. I realise that I've contributed to this situation over the years when I was less clear and aware of healthy boundaries. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that better boundaries are confronting so I guess a test of what's real in a friendship.

My husband's cousin is a different case. We do genuinely care and love each other. Your advice to be clearer about my needs in the relationship is excellent and in his case I know he will respond.

I think I'm rather Covid weary in general. When you live in a beautiful seaside location, you get a lot of visitors generally but since Covid we've had severe restrictions on travel interstate and all overseas travel is banned. We've been inundated with family and people wanting to stay or visit so my husband and I are more than a bit jaded. We're good cooks and hosts but it's been a heck of a lot of give and not much take !!

I think it's time to circle the wagons and rethink how we're doing things in general. Thanks for listening and taking the time to pep me up again :-)


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zak

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Re: Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2021, 12:41:22 AM »
Here I am again, with an update. I first posted here on February 20 and until today there was no contact with my female friend. I am being ghosted clearly. Last night I had a nightmare where she and her new friends were harassing and humiliating me at a party, I was standing up for myself but they were being cruel and loud. I woke feeling really upset and the feeling stayed with me. I decided this morning that I needed to take some power back and so contacted this woman with a friendly text. 'Hey we haven't been in touch for a while, how are you...' I thought that if she felt any remorse or had a rethink she'd respond to this warmly. After all we've known each other for over 30 years.

Instead, I got a text saying her life is fantastic, busy and full plus some news glorifying her children and that was it. Nothing about catching up or any other contact. It was really just full of boasts about how wonderful her life is.

I decided to make the contact as a means to bring closure. Although I really kind of expected her to respond like this I just feel so sad and abandoned. I'd already closed my Facebook account and prior to that I'd already hidden her news feed as I felt her posts have been a form of baiting for some months. It just feels like yet another loss on top of the loss of my FOO through NC. My father used to taunt me that 'no-one would want me' and 'you're nothing'. Today that's how I feel. I know it's not true but doesn't it hurt to be thrown aside just for being yourself.

I know I've changed and developed better boundaries and so haven't been the narcissistic feed this woman clearly needs. I know the fledgling friendships in our new area may in time fill this lonely space; it just isn't there yet and so I feel lonely and sad. It will pass but it's a rough day.


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Bloomie

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Re: Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2021, 12:49:30 PM »
Hi whole hearted. You have confirmed for yourself that this person is no longer someone you can be close to and that the relationship wasn't built for mutuality and there seems no room for you to grow and change within it.

That is a painful reality and grieving the loss of the friendship is hard to do when there was no official "end" so to speak. But, in general, I don't know if we really do that so well... grieve the end of a long held friendship. It is a very painful experience to go through. Would it be helpful to do something symbolic to let it go once and for all?

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I know I've changed and developed better boundaries and so haven't been the narcissistic feed this woman clearly needs. I know the fledgling friendships in our new area may in time fill this lonely space; it just isn't there yet and so I feel lonely and sad. It will pass but it's a rough day.

It really can be isolating as we grow and change and develop healthy boundaries and it changes and sometimes ends relationships that we care about and have counted on. I hope you find comfort in knowing you are not alone and I am so sorry you are hurting today! :hug:


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daughter

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Re: Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2021, 11:21:44 PM »
Read a great quote today, to paraphrase: old friendships can be like old appliances, barely functional but too heavy to dispose of.  My former BFF and I reached that breaking point last Fall, me realizing that our friendship had been me doing 80% of "heavy lifting", and she upset at me for not "doing enough" for her in Covid era, with my distancing myself and dealing with my own stressors.  My friends' Covid-era different coping methods and differing friendship expectations really magnified major issues concerning BFF's skewed perspective regarding my reliable availability to always be there to help solve her problems.   

Several months mutual silence ensued.  When I contacted her via email, she blasted me regarding my perceived failure to perform to her expectations, and therefore was fired, for poor job performance.  Yes, this friendship had reached its "useful life". Not even a BFF should be allowed to blast us because we're not "doing enough" for them.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2021, 11:28:14 PM by daughter »

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cookiecat

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Re: Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2021, 12:22:51 AM »
I know exactly what you mean by the social media baiting, both ex-friends (who didn’t like me stopping doing all the heavy lifting in the friendship) we’re fond of that tactic.  And these are women in their 50s, lol.  Playing those types of  games like that on SM is a red flag for me now.  The quotes (which ironically almost ALWAYS describe themselves ) where they imply things about “other people”, lol.  Just sad really.  It hurts but in the end you realize how much more peaceful life is and can spend time with people you enjoy rather than people who only felt familiar due to childhood wounding.

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Fortuna

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Re: Can you reset boundaries in long-term friendships ? If so, how ?
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2021, 05:26:30 PM »
Is it possible to kill them with kindness?
For the first friend simply gush about how great it is she's found so many new friends, showing you aren't feeling discarded, only happy for her? If her goal was to demean you she'll stop, she knows she'd failed. Or she realized the two of you aren't as compatible since she likes to be a bully and is making new victims...er friends.

For the second, those innocent comments about not bringing enough, ask kindly if they are having money difficulties because they used to be able to bring enough, do they need to talk to an advisor, or maybe having memory problems, because they used to remember what they needed to bring,  and need to talk to a doctor?  Sometimes they realize they are not going to get the Ok then,  that's fine, so they will stop or will be embarrassed enough at the suggestion of not being perfect that they will stop.
 Or flat out tell him while you appreciate the company you thought there was a basic understanding that you provided housing and they provided food/wine or whatnot and you're feeling taken for granted.
Find what irks you the most and set a boundary, be prepared for push back. Reasonable people will respect it, but may need a bit of time. PD people won't.