Some of us are more naturaly dominant by nature, and some of us more naturally submissive. That’s not to say we are all into 50 Shades type scenarios, but all of us are along the scale somewhere. If you fall exactly in the middle, and all your friends do too, then you may not relate too well to this article. If however, you are in the majority, you have probably experienced a more dominant and demanding friend than you consider yourself to be. (If you can’t identify any dominant or demanding friends in your life, then it’s probably you! Lol)
Personally, I tend to fall on the more submissive side when it comes to friendships, and as such I am often drawn to more assertive types of friends. As a result, I have found it really important to have really clear and strong boundaries with some friends. For the most part, I am pretty easy going, and will do whatever keeps everyone happy, even if it wasn’t what I particularly wanted. However, with friends who like to insist on spending money, I set a clear limit of what I will spend and I am careful to basically never spend more than that with them.
With friends who struggle to take no for an answer, I have practiced just saying “No.” No apologies, or justifications, just no. And I will repeat that until I am heard. If I strongly don’t want to do something, I won’t do it. I used to say yes, then either resent the person for making me go, or I’d say yes initially then “call in sick” when the time came.
With friends I feel are using me, or more interested in the benefits of our friendship than the friendship itself, I start cutting back on the benefits, whatever they may be. You know the type of friend, never seems to want to have anything to do with you until they need something from you, then they’re your best friend… for five minutes anyway! Lol I practice not being as available to give these people whatever it is they are requesting from me and observe if the friendship is still valuable to them. Most times, the friendship issue resolves itself as the friendship dies out.
These friends can be pushy, without meaning to be, or even knowing that they are! They may struggle to hear an implied “no” that a more submissive person is trying to give. I used to say things that would imply that I wasn’t interested such as “Well, it’s going to be a very hot day, and there’s almost no shade there. I’d have to move a few things around to even be able to go, and I wouldn’t have much time if we did, how about so and so?” (Implying that they could take a different friend.) What I would be trying to say is “No. This activity does not interest me. It would be a hassle to attend anyway and I don’t even want to, ask someone else.” I would hope that my dominant friend would hear this. But because she was excited about the intended activity all she heard was “I’ll move some things around and I’ll be there.” Then usually she would be unhappy when I had to leave and would try and again test my limits and get me to stay longer…. If I didn’t call in sick that is!!
I learned you have to be clear when you don’t feel comfortable with something, but that you don’t have to be angry with the person for suggesting it, or even feel pressured. That pressure you feel is internal and comes from that inner people pleaser. Once you quieten her down, you feel ok saying “Thanks for thinking of me, but I’ll give it a miss. I hope you find someone to go with.” When you are clear there is not much room for them to continue the conversation, and if they do, a quick, “I said no,” will shut the conversation down pretty quickly.
Saying no to anything you don’t feel comfortable with is ok. Your friend shouldn’t like you any less. However it may come as a surprise to her, if you have always done these things before. She probably never realised there was a problem! Expect her to ask if you are ok. Expect her to say you aren’t acting like yourself. Expect her to be hurt and angry and feel rejected. If she does prompt the conversation, be honest with her and tell her you are setting better boundaries for yourself. Be honest and tell her you have not always enjoyed the activities, and most likely if you suggested activities to her she had no interest in she would have no problem saying no. Even tell her you admire that quality and have decided you want to be more like her.
It will be hard at first. She will apply pressure. You will feel guilty. Rest assured that is a reflection of her not respecting your boundaries….. and learning what they actually are. You will probably relent a few times before you get it right, but you can do it.
And you know what, because we are all on the spectrum, you may even find that you are the dominant friend with some of your other friends! So be mindful of that too! You can be friends with someone more dominant than you, as long as you are clear in your own boundaries. Remember to be assertive, not aggressive.
Your best Friend ForNever