Author Topic: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?  (Read 2202 times)

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LadyL

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Deciding to set better boundaries in my own relationships has really highlighted how some of my friends and family struggle to do the same, and thus negatively judge my actions because the entire idea of boundary setting is so uncomfortable for them.

Most recently this came up when discussing our recent decision to refuse MIL's offer to throw us a wedding shower, and the fallout that occurred when she didn't want to take "no" for an answer (http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=126999.240). I had to bring it up with my mother because she was erroneously sent an invite. She gave LordL and I a long and well intended speech about compromise and maintaining good familial relationships. I told her I appreciated and understood her concerns, but that our decision was one made based on past history as well as the present situation and was the right choice for us as a couple. I ended up having to maintain a boundary about setting boundaries.

The thing is, my mother is not good at setting boundaries. She has a habit of forming highly codependent, dysfunctional relationships. She is bad at saying "no" to people. For example, a tenant she evicted kept trying to get her to rent her back the apartment she'd been asked to leave. My mother repeatedly took calls from this person and made polite chit chat, evading questions about re-renting the apartment, because she was afraid to be "rude" and tell her "stop contacting me."

One of my coworkers who I am friendly with also gave me a look like "...really?" when I told her we were refusing to attend the shower that MIL was trying to force on us. However, this coworker has a fairly toxic family who she is not great at saying no to. She lives 3+ hours away from her immediate family, and they constantly make last minute plans in their area and then are upset if she can't come, even though it's usually an overnight trip for her. She is constantly saying yes to unreasonable favor requests, that sort of thing.

I am realizing that standing up for oneself involves not just the immediate situation, but other's judgement of your handling of that situation. Also, just as I wouldn't take financial advice from someone who was bad with money, I am learning to filter out relationship advice from people who have issues with them.

Anyone else gone through this sort of process? Have you ever felt like people saw you as the Meanest Person in the World for setting boundaries?



Cami

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2013, 02:23:47 PM »
Oh yes, I've been told I'm the meanest person in the whole world for various boundaries I've set.

Key: I've long since stopped caring what other people think of me.

Other key: I've long since realized that the people Who. Will. Not. Let. It. Go about setting boundaries do not understand boundaries themselves. Trying to explain boundaries to them is like teaching a pig to sing. Waste of time. Do not JADE with them. Just set boundaries with them too:

Words I use: "You have not walked in my shoes so you don't know all the details or the history and I don't intend to spend hours describing it. You'll have to take my word for it or think I'm horrible. Your choice."

squeakers

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2013, 02:27:48 PM »
I cut off my mother and a sister over 5 years ago.  My oldest sister still tries to involve me with them. 

She told me mom was dying a month ago.  I said she was as good as dead to me already.

Yesterday I stopped over at Sister's house to drop off some 15 bean soup (it was good but I was the only one eating it so it would have gone to waste).  I also had some necklace/earring sets to share out.  My great-niece was there and since I hadn't given her a graduation gift and her birthday is coming up I told her to pick out a few sets.  Big sister picked one set for herself and then a few other sets. She gave me some cash for them (which I tried to refuse.. I got the sets cheap off of ebay and were bought to be given as gifts).  The she says  "Oh, mom would like this one.  And other sister would like that one."    I can't refuse the money because that's how she is.. she would have snuck over and stuck it on my desk or something. And I can't tell her "No, they can't have them." Because she paid for them before saying the above.

She also mentions she'll be able to give mom the necklace again next year because mom has dementia and won't remember.  What happened to her dying really soon?

She then tries to get me to visit with mom and other sister again. Aint happening.

I understand why she does it.  As the eldest of 8 kids she has always been more like a mom to some of us.  And she has had a hard life so one lets her do what she wants to give her a bit of joy.  But that reconciliation will never happen.

And it will be another 3 or 4 months before I drive the 4 blocks (big ones) to see her.
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2013, 02:43:10 PM »
It's been interesting.  I did sort of an indirect cut years ago in that my folks stopped talking to me for 2 months and because they were the two most peaceful months of my life up to that point I wasn't about to be the one to end it and then just decided to continue that silence though my mother's tried to contact me here and there only to be met with crickets.

My brother, the one I'd say who's the most affected since he still lives with them has never said anything to me to encourage me to mend fences.   I think it's because he understands.   I have one aunt, my mom's baby sister who is also my godmother, who also understands because her two sisters have always been nasty to her and my father isn't much better.  So she gets it. 

My dad's side of the family has said "We don't really need to know the reason, but we love you and don't want to lose you either."  And most of them have stuck to that, no one's asked me for the details for which I'm thankful for.   However, 3 people, when I had my youngest, did say "Well now you have another baby are you going to mend fences with your parents? 1 of them, when told "No" said "Oh. Okay." and it was never brought up again.  The other two, my cousin and his wife, tried harder, especially my cousin, invoking the "you'll be sorry when they die, I wish I had my mother still" guilt trip that didn't work but to tick me off.  ::)

I ended up cutting out my mother's oldest sister (mom's oldest of 3 so this would be the middle sister) because she just would NOT stop trying to talk me into mending fences.  She and my mother are best friends and my mother apparently can do no wrong in her eyes so she just couldn't see why I wanted nothing to do with her.

DH said "Well why don't you just tell people?" Cause I just don't feel like going over it all cause it would be like pulling the scab off old wounds.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

cwm

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2013, 03:19:33 PM »
I cut off my father from direct contact that I can control. (I live with sis, he watches the kid once a week, we're bound to run into each other and I maintain a polite distance.) My mom, all the coworkers from my previous job, and my sister have all told me to keep in contact with him, go to his charity events (he's on the board of directors for a charity and always gets a whole table at their annual charity dinner) and stay in touch with him. I won't do it.

My old coworkers stopped once I told them if it wasn't dropped that I would be going to management. My old friends have just accepted it and support me in my quest for better mental health, and whenever a new friend in the group brings it up and tries to argue with me about my choices, they'll let me have my say* and then politely pull the new friend aside and mention that I have been known to get absolutely hysterical and have panic attacks from people who wouldn't give this up. It is NOT a good idea to push me into a corner about my decisions and please don't bring it up again for the sake of me and everyone around me.

*Mostly I tell them that while I do appreciate the past and the good memories I have of growing up with my dad, he has done some inexcusable things and the good times of the past are gone. Until he comes to me to apologize for his actions, I will not accept him in my life. I maintain my manners until they start pushing, and then it gest very stressful very quickly for me.

As for my family, they don't support me in cutting him off. My mom actually has a better functional rel@tionship with my dad at this point, though it is strained, but they don't bother bringing it up with them again. I will always repeat the same thing to them. "I am dealing with this the only way that is healthy and safe for me."

MrTango

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 03:29:27 PM »
So far, there are two people I've felt the need to cut completely from my life.  Fortunately, on both occasions, my close family (including my parents and my wife) have been quite supportive of my decisions.

With my ex-girlfriend, it's easy because she doesn't have my address, phone number, or any of my email addresses and I've blocked her on Facebook.  We have a couple mutual friends, so I'm sure I'll hear if some big life event occurs, but those friends won't help her contact me.

With my mother's oldest sister (she is no longer family as far as I am concerned, which is why I refuse to refer to her as my aunt), my parents acknowledged my feelings but asked me to at least be polite at family gatherings.  I have blocked her email address, phone number, and FB account.  At family gatherings, I say two words to her: "Hello" and "Goodbye."

Moray

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 03:32:58 PM »
For your mom, I'm not sure I see the issue. She was trying to offer honest advice and it was your choice to take it or not.

However, if you don't want coworkers or other aquaintences passing judgement on whatever decision you make, I'd probably just stop talking about it with them. To discuss it with them invites conversation.
Utah

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 03:40:43 PM »
There was a group of four of us that were good friends from our Uni days.  A few years back, I decided to cut off one of them.  I still have contact with the other two girls and they respect my decision not to have anything to do with her.  One of my friends was getting married a couple of years ago and I told her to not to worry about inviting cut-off friend; that it was completely her decision.  I'd prefer not to be seated at the same table but I'd be happy to deal with her for the evening.  She ended up deciding not to invite her and doesn't have any contact with her, as far as I know.

Other friend dropped that she'd seen cut-off friend over Christmas.  I didn't make any comment and friend didn't push the issue.

So I guess I'm lucky.  But then, my cut-offs don't involve relatives which I think makes it a lot more difficult to manage.
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Ontario

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2013, 03:44:06 PM »
It is nice to hear others stories.  I had a very good reason for cutting off the relative, and was supported by 90% of people, who in fact said the would provide my alibi  >:D .  But the other relative just cannot understand why I won't just say, well, haha, isn't that just like him.  And honestly, 2 former co workers couldn't believe at first I wouldn't try to 'work things out' (again).  Well, I had been calling him on his basic lies, and even attempting to mentor him, but he chose instead to do what he did (come into my job after I told him he was no longer allowed to come in because he would just bug us), and say what he said about my DD which started a storm, and then tell a few other people.  So I had to go into damage control, prove he was a lying loser (it was easy to prove) and deal with my DD's feelings over being so betrayed (she was 5 days out of a 7 month stay in a residential treatment center for mental health issues..WTG jerk boy!).  The one pressuring me has been cut off by so many relatives due to his own story telling and backhanded schemes that he should be used to the cut direct.  There is a part that doesn't want to give the pressurer the cut..but I feel I have no choice until he respects my decisions.  The problem is, the pressurer & my DD are and have always been close but it is becoming very chilly on her end because she is afraid that he will show up with mr cut off and try to force the issue.

Shoo

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2013, 04:16:39 PM »
I cut off my father from direct contact that I can control. (I live with sis, he watches the kid once a week, we're bound to run into each other and I maintain a polite distance.) My mom, all the coworkers from my previous job, and my sister have all told me to keep in contact with him, go to his charity events (he's on the board of directors for a charity and always gets a whole table at their annual charity dinner) and stay in touch with him. I won't do it.

My old coworkers stopped once I told them if it wasn't dropped that I would be going to management. My old friends have just accepted it and support me in my quest for better mental health, and whenever a new friend in the group brings it up and tries to argue with me about my choices, they'll let me have my say* and then politely pull the new friend aside and mention that I have been known to get absolutely hysterical and have panic attacks from people who wouldn't give this up. It is NOT a good idea to push me into a corner about my decisions and please don't bring it up again for the sake of me and everyone around me.

*Mostly I tell them that while I do appreciate the past and the good memories I have of growing up with my dad, he has done some inexcusable things and the good times of the past are gone. Until he comes to me to apologize for his actions, I will not accept him in my life. I maintain my manners until they start pushing, and then it gest very stressful very quickly for me.

As for my family, they don't support me in cutting him off. My mom actually has a better functional rel@tionship with my dad at this point, though it is strained, but they don't bother bringing it up with them again. I will always repeat the same thing to them. "I am dealing with this the only way that is healthy and safe for me."

How do all these people know so much about your business?  I think you need to stop talking about it with people.

Lynn2000

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2013, 05:08:58 PM »
Interesting thread. I've never had to give someone the cut direct but there are a few people that I've chosen to limit my interactions with/expectations for, based on past disappointments and hurt (or watching other people suffer at their hands). If people also know the person (like, we're all co-workers or relatives) they seem to be fairly understanding. It might not be what they choose to do but I'm known as someone who isn't very social, and the more I'm pressured the more I dig my heels in.

I generally don't talk too much about it with someone who doesn't know the person, though. A lot of the time, my change in behavior was precipitated by the build-up of lots of little things over time, not one monumentally huge and horrible thing someone did; so to really explain to someone, I have to rehash the entire history, and that just makes me feel negative. If it was my SO asking why I don't visit my grandma very often, yeah, I would explain; but just a co-worker? They probably wouldn't even know it was an issue.
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PeterM

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2013, 05:53:46 PM »
However, if you don't want coworkers or other aquaintences passing judgement on whatever decision you make, I'd probably just stop talking about it with them. To discuss it with them invites conversation.

There's no guarantee the worst offenders were ever part of any discussion, though. I've been harangued more than once by coworkers who either overheard the one time I briefly mentioned a subject, or learned about it much later and decided to put in their two cents. Once the information is out there, however it got out there, some people just feel that it's always a valid topic of conversation, no matter how often you tell them that no, it really isn't.

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2013, 07:31:09 PM »
My co workers knew because they were part of the final drama..mr cut off decided he was going to try to cause problems for me there, because the family wasn't going for it.  And a co worker may ask about a parent or sibling in the course of conversation and if you murmur 'well, we aren't that close' or 'we really don't talk', you get the but it's faaaammiiiilllllyyyy types who feel the need to start haranguing you.

JeseC

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2013, 11:55:14 PM »
Yeesh...this is Mom + Dad for me.  Here's the thing I learned - part of the problem is that, when you try to set and enforce firm boundaries, the recipient will often try to go around you.  I have this problem with my family:  any time I tell my mother something she doesn't want to hear and refuse to discuss it, I can expect a call from my father about how hurt she is and she's really trying and why am I doing this...almost certainly because she's been using HIS lack of  boundaries to harangue him about "dealing with our daughter."

PastryGoddess

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Re: How do non-involved parties react to your boundary setting?
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2013, 02:03:04 AM »
Yeesh...this is Mom + Dad for me.  Here's the thing I learned - part of the problem is that, when you try to set and enforce firm boundaries, the recipient will often try to go around you.  I have this problem with my family:  any time I tell my mother something she doesn't want to hear and refuse to discuss it, I can expect a call from my father about how hurt she is and she's really trying and why am I doing this...almost certainly because she's been using HIS lack of  boundaries to harangue him about "dealing with our daughter."

I had that situation with some ex-friends of mine.  Me and friend would get into a spat and then her husband would call and try to justify her actions to me.  Eventually, I simply told him that she was a big girl and if she had a problem then she could email/call me herself.  Especially if we've been chatting all day via email/text/phone. I would simply let him know I had to go and remind him to have her call me herself.
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