My best friend had a mental breakdown.
I'm not talking about a dramatic scene: I'm talking about lying in the middle of the freeway hoping to get hit by a car and lighting bushes on fire at a high school type of meltdown. A full mental breakdown that required professional help.
During all of this, I tried my best to be there for her because she is my best friend. I felt obliged to help where I could. While I wanted to help her through this, I knew she needed professional help, but that's something people have to seek out themselves.
We can tell someone again and again they need help, but until that finally clicks in their brain and they accept it for themselves, we're just blowing hot air.
Things got so frustrating that I realized our friendship had become toxic. I wanted to be loyal to the person she used to be, but she began taking advantage of our relationship. I don't believe she knew she was doing this.
But regardless of this, it made me learn something about friendships: You have to have boundaries.
Here a few that I realized I hadn't enforced, or even put up to begin with.
1. Your friend is not your bank.
Just because I am financially better off does not mean I have to bail you out.
It's different if you use all of your savings to pay off your debt, and then someone crashes into your car, and then your dog falls ill and needs to go to the vet. If it's the perfect storm of random acts, then I may feel like I can help, and then it's my decision to loan you some money.
However, if you've made poor financial decisions and you can't afford to pay for your vacation or your dogs or whatever else it is, then you shouldn't be taking vacations and you shouldn't own pets you can't properly care for. Your finances are not the responsibilities of your friends.
2. Your friend is not your therapist.
I understand the need to vent.
Boy, do I.
But venting, or telling me what you're struggling with is different than expecting me to have the answers for you. I am not a licensed therapist, and I do not know the ins and outs of your relationship or your struggles.
If you need to vent about that coworker that breathes too loud, then sure, vent away. But if you're coming to me with problems in your personal relationship and you want me to tell you what to do or fix it, I can't.
I don't have those skills. Please seek professional help. A licensed therapist is a third-party individual that is completely biased for your benefit can help you through these things.
3. Your friend is not your spouse.
If you are in a marriage or a committed relationship, then part of that is relying on the other person for support, whether it is emotional or financial.
If you're a big enough an adult to be in a grown up relationship, then you should be able to take care of each other. If you are two 30-year-olds in a marriage, you should be able to afford your rent and car payments. And if you cannot, it's not my job to take care of you.
4. Your friend is not your parent.
This goes hand in hand with the spouse one.
I'm sorry if you have a bad relationship with your parents, but I cannot be a parent for you. You are not my child, and I don't have an obligation to take care of you.
If you have a good relationship with your parents, then please contact them and talk to them about your wellbeing. Often, a parent has gone through something similar to their child.
I cannot be that person for you. And you shouldn't expect your friend to be that person.
5. Your friend is not your savior.
I love you, but it's not my responsibility to save you.
I cannot save you from your poor choices. I cannot save you from your emotions. I cannot save you from yourself.
Your choices have to be yours, and if they aren't, that creates resentment, and turns you into a false person. You have to save yourself.
6. Your friend is simply your friend.
Friendships can be the greatest relationships in your lifetime. But they can also be some of the most destructive and painful relationships.
You have to respect each other and the relationship that you've built. That responsibility falls on both sides. You cannot take advantage of a friendship, and you cannot be an enabler, or vice-versa.