Do you have a friend who leaves you feeling drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually after you interact with them? Or better question, how many friends do you have who drain your energy?
Most of the time we can recognize how these people make us feel, but we don’t realize how we’ve allowed these people to overstep our boundaries.
Sometimes we don’t even have boundaries established that other people can cross.
Boundaries, just like other rules and laws in our society, are usually not needed until something is broken. Did the traffic light exist as soon as cars were invented, or were they made because drivers weren’t considerate enough to give others the right-of-way?
A key contributor to increased productivity is doing things that matter when you are at your greatest energy level. When you’re at your greatest energy level, a friend who drains your energy must be avoided at all costs. Let’s look at 7 ways a lack of boundaries have turned your friends into energy vampires.
Sign #1: They Manipulate Situations For Personal Gain
A friend who doesn’t respect your boundaries will play emotional games in order to get you to do what they want you to do. A friend who is a master manipulator knows the words to use to draw you into their emotional drama making you want to help fix their problems. This could be in the form of using words such as “but friends are supposed to take care of each other” or they bring up that one time they helped you (therefore feeding off your guilt complex).
Sign #2: They Visit Without Invitations
This person shows up at your house uninvited and will stay a long time. You’re upset at them constantly not respecting your boundary of calling to see if they can come over and they may use emotional manipulation so that you won’t kick them out. Despite your hints of having important things to do, they won’t leave until they are ready to go.
Sign #3: They Overly Share Personal Details
A friend who has vomit mouth can sap your energy quickly: they overly share personal details about their life (both good and bad) to any and everyone who will listen (voluntarily or involuntarily). You feel uncomfortable listening to them but don’t know how to make it stop.
Sign #4: They Gossip About You to Others
Can anything kill trust faster than finding out that a friend has gossiped about you? If you don’t set the boundary and discuss the breach of trust, you end up repressing your feelings and emotions when they are around, expending unnecessary energy in the process.
Sign #5: They are Unreliable and Inconsiderate
Demanding friends normally expects you to always be there for them, but that same expectation is not reciprocated by them to you. They can’t be relied upon to keep their commitments and normally aren’t considerate enough to communicate when they can’t keep a promise.
Sign #6: Their Behavior is Unpredictable
Friends with unpredictable emotions (high one minute, low the next) make you treat them with kid gloves, never feeling comfortable enough to share what is really on your mind or what your needs are. You walk on eggshells because you don’t want to be the person who sets them off.
I recently reconnected with a friend through Facebook whom I haven’t talked to since high school (15+ years ago). In four hours he sent me three messages. The first was cordial (he said hi) and the last was very weird (he couldn’t understand why I hadn’t responded to any of his messages, he thought we were friends). Not wanting to create unnecessary drama in my life, I decided to never reply to his messages. I questioned his mental state as well as thinking the next sign #7 applies to him.
Sign #7: They Need an Overwhelming Amount of Contact
Do you have friends who call and text a lot and don’t understand that you are not always available to them? A needy person is not attractive in a spouse and definitely not in a friend. These are probably the biggest energy vampires and also the hardest to control.
Once you are clear on your personal boundaries and have communicated them clearly to your friends (when they cross them), expect to be tested. Your commitment to enforcing your boundaries (with proper judgment on when to extend grace) goes a long way in ensuring that your boundaries are respected.
Tell me, what is your biggest struggle with boundaries? Is it setting them, communicating them, or enforcing them? What boundaries do you struggle with enforcing with others?