Maybe your sister is constantly telling you why your partner isn’t “The One” for you, or your friend is dropping in uninvited at your house. Well, the way to manage these situations is to set boundaries! So, how exactly can you do that?

  • Assume positive intent. That means we have to assume that someone has good and positive reasons for their behavior. They’re not being pushy to annoy you or hurt you – and they probably have no clue they’re annoying! That’s according to clinical psychologist Hal Shorley. It may drive you crazy that your mother calls and leaves voicemail after voicemail until you return her calls. But it could be because she worries about you because you’re living alone.
  • Try to think about why your pushy friend or family member is acting that way. Like, does your sister bash your boyfriend because she’s worried you two won’t spend as much time together? Does your friend drop by unannounced because he’s lonely? It’s not all about us – we have to consider the other person’s perspective.
  • When you’re ready to talk with them about their behavior, start on a positive note. Say something like “You’re very important to me. That’s why it upsets me when you tell me you don’t approve of my choices.”
  • Spell out how you want them to change. This is the most important thing to do when setting boundaries. Try with something like “Mom, I’d appreciate it if in the future you could please call me before coming over.” That way, they have a clear action plan for what will make you happy. And if they don’t follow the plan – then psychologists say don’t reward their bad behavior! In other words, if they continue dropping by uninvited, say something like “I’m sorry but I’m busy now. But next time give me a heads up, and I’d love to see you.”

Lesson Expert

Meredith McKenna