Some time ago, I had a discussion with a friend regarding respect in friendships. He was describing his oldest friends and they sounded unkind and disrespectful. He was struggling with remaining friends with them all the while creating boundaries. Over my short lifetime, I have learned to solely nurture supportive friendships. If someone brings me down or is constantly negative and does not look for solutions to problems and instead prefers to stay stuck in their hole, I automatically move away. It is not that I do not care. In fact, I often care about them, but I care about my own mental well-being more. And unfortunately, these friends are often energy vampires.
In my view, friends are meant to be your closest supporters. They are always ready to help and they do not demean you. “Friends” who poke at you endlessly and have no respect for your boundaries are not friends. They are using you to exercise and maintain their own personal issues. If they do not become more respectful of your boundaries at your request, especially when that repeats itself many times, they are not worthy of being friends with you. Or perhaps, you should be a distance friend.
What is a distance friend, you ask? It’s when you still meet one-on-one with old friends who have gone down the wrong path. That could be drugs, negativity, nihilism, low morals or anything else you see as growing down and not up. In order to protect yourself from these energy vampires who you still care about, you limit your exposure and attempt to bring your best to them when you do meet. While they can be draining, you are free to distance yourself for whatever length of time is required to recharge. The hope is that your healthier mood and life will positively impact them. Except if you want to be dragged down with them, there is little more you can do. If they are really close friends or family, be there when they need you the most and you know that they are genuinely opening up and being vulnerable.
Anyway, today is a tiny post, but it expresses my complete befuddlement at the idea of being friends with someone who does not respect your boundaries. I believe every one of my friends to be wonderful, with their own specific gifts. That is why I am friends with them. I hope to learn a little from them about these qualities I look up to in them. Spending time with them is not a curse but a joy. If you don’t enjoy spending time with your friends, it is time you revise your friendships. These should lift you up, not pull you down. And remember, a few good friends are better than many stale and unconstructive ones.