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Setting Boundaries in Friendships

Owlie7
Community Member

Hi there,

I wanted to post this here to see if someone could offer a new perspective on how to manage a communication issue with a platonic friend/acquaintance.

I am feeling hurt that this person will take almost a month to reply to my texts and not acknowledge that there is an issue in this as they will just continue with the conversation. I may be taking this to heart a little too much but I also struggle to accept that someone is too busy to respond when these days most people are on their phones everyday. I want to address this and set a boundary that this is not ok for me and wanted to ask for advice of how to approach this conversation.

For context; I have met them through class a couple of years ago. We kept in touch after our class ended and also met in person for a catch up. There was a bit of a lull period of no contact between us but they reached out and we met again in person and periodically keep in touch via text but they will take weeks to respond even though I can see they are active on social media.

Initially I just accepted this but it is getting to me because it feels that I am on the end of the priority list for them and I don't understand their motive or if they even see me as a friend. I am happy to go with the flow but I don't want to invest my time in building a friendship if it is going to be one sided. I'm confused because they keep reaching out and doing the same thing over and over.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt as we never know what someone is going through so I asked them if everything was ok as my last text was a month ago. They got back with sorry I was busy. I didn't say it was ok but kept my response short. Now I'm again waiting on a reply.

I contemplating either waiting until their reply to say how this is making me feel or just telling them now.

Could someone advise on how they would approach this?

3 Replies 3

Banksy92
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Owlie7,

I think it's totally understandable how you are feeling. It's not only frustrating when people ignore or delay responding to our messages, it's also quite rude of them. I don't believe anyone deserves to be treated this way.

You're right though, we never know what's going on in someone's personal life. It could be to do with something unrelated to you. I have a friend who's coping mechanism is avoidance, so they often take ages to respond to messages, particularly if they feel pressured to commit to social plans. It's really frustrating, but because she owns up to it I can remind myself of this and not let it get to me.

In your case, I would suggest maybe sending a message (or calling?) to check in with them and say you have felt a bit unsure if they are okay or wondered if they wanted some space because of how long it's taking them to respond. See what they say back. Maybe they will be honest and let you know what's going on, or maybe they will give an excuse that you aren't quite convinced about. But there is no need to argue or pry deeper.

If it's not a response you're happy with, I would just say okay and then stop giving them as much space and energy in your life. Take a little break from the friendship for a while. No need to burn bridges or anything, but just remember it's healthier for you to have people in your life who treat you the way you want to be treated and don't leave you feeling insecure or questioning things. You deserve better.

Hope this helps!

Beeee
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Owlie7,

It's definitely fair that you're feeling confused and hurt by this friend who isn't making the effort to reply to your messages.

As Banksy92 said above, we don't really know what other people are going through. There might be things your friend doesn't feel comfortable sharing. I also have a friend who will take weeks to reply to me, but will be active on other social media platforms in the meantime. But he has mentioned to me that he gets into moods of low motivation where he can't find the energy to reply messages.

As you've said in the title of your post, setting boundaries is important. Talk to your friend about how you feel and be specific. They may have not even realised how they've made you feel. Let them know that you don't feel appreciated in the friendship when they take so long to reply. Considering that they did reach out to you after the lull and they do reply eventually, I hope that your friend will be understanding.

Let us know what you decide to do!

Beeee

Juliet_84
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Owlie7,

Welcome to the forum and I’m sorry you’re feeling upset. I would say this is a case of differing expectations of a friendship. Some friends like regular communication and involvement whereas others like a more low key friendship where both understand that life gets in the way and appreciate the ability to pick up where they left off after a period of time as if nothing had happened. I don’t think either approach is wrong, but if it’s not working for you then you need to clearly communicate it. I have a tendency to be the latter but it’s also because I don’t want to “annoy” the other person or intrude, and would actually welcome increased communication. However, if your friend is leaving you on read then that likely may not be the case. You could always just say something like “I always see you online but I haven’t heard from you in awhile, is everything ok?” And offer them a chance to explain. That being said, if this is how they have always been, it is likely that this is just their idea of friendship and it may be worthwhile expanding your friend circle.