Friends are important, there’s no denying it. Some of the best memories you’ve made, or will make, a good friend is by your side. Unfortunately, as great as they are, friendships can get messy. There are a million reasons why, but one of them may be: expectations.
At times friends are going to want to do things that make you feel uncomfortable. They might expect you to be a certain way when you're around them that just makes you feel uneasy. They might be fully aware of how their expectations make you feel, they might have no idea. Either way, the only way you can manage their expectations is to communicate. Talk to them about how you feel.
Obviously talking to them about their expectations might not be easy - you never know how they will react, right? If you are really intimated by them, you might want to ask yourself if they are worth being friends with, in the first place. But if the answer is yes, then this is what I suggest you do:
First, identify what it is exactly that’s making you feel uncomfortable. Are they expecting too much of your time? Are they expecting you to be too outgoing? So on, and so on. Give it a long, hard think. Maybe write it down, or imagine you are telling them.
Next, try to discern if there is something else going on. In other words, maybe there is something behind the expectation that needs to be addressed. Maybe you’re feeling really stressed at the moment and this is making you feel like they have high expectations of you, when in reality, they don’t. Or maybe something else is going on in their lives, now they are taking their stress out on you. Try seeing things from their perspective before you confront them.
Okay, now the scary part: confronting them. When you talk to them stay calm and be considerate. Try not to play the blame game or make personal attacks. Remember, they might not even realise how their expectations are making you feel. Focus on your feelings rather than their actions. For example, “Lately, I’ve been really stressed, and I feel like I can’t give you as much time as I normally do”. “Or I feel uncomfortable when we go to parties, and I would prefer if we just hung out alone”. Be kind, but firm – stand your ground.
Listen to what they have to say, but if they refuse to see your side of things, maybe they are not worth keeping as a friend. Keep in mind, the issue may take time to work through, you might need to have a few conversations. Establishing healthy expectations can be a team effort.
Change your perspective and uncover a way forward for you!
Setting Boundaries by Dr Rebecca Ray It is about pursuing the things that set our soul on fire, loving deeply without losing ourselves, and better resisting the demands and expectations of others.
Normal People by Sally Rooney This book follows two students who weave in and out of each other's romantic lives. They deal with expectations of themselves and others as they start to grow up.
Right & Wrong Expectations in Friendship by Joyce Meyer
Clowers takes the reader step-by-step through short, easy-to-read chapters, answering questions like: how to fix yourself first and controlling your expectations.
The Edge of Seventeen
High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.
Mean Girls When a teenager joins a ruling clique in highschool, she has to deal with all the expectations along with it.
Laura and her son Henry are forced to drive her estranged father cross country, after being kicked out of a nursing home.
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