Boundaries with Friends

Remember that boundaries are personal rules. They help you to feel safe and comfortable in a relationship. It is healthy to have boundaries with friends.

Here are some common boundaries:

Hugging and other touching

Some friends are affectionate, too. Some friends hug and hold hands. Some friends like each other very much, but don’t want to be physically affectionate. If you want to hug a friend, you should ask them if it is okay. You should respect them even if they say no. If a friend wants to hug you, they should ask if it is okay with you. If you want to hug them, you can. But if you don’t want to, just nicely say, “I’m not a hugger” or “I don’t want a hug today.”


Visiting at work

When you are at work, you are supposed to be working. You should not have many interruptions. If your family or friends want to see you at work, you should ask your boss first—ask if it is okay for your family to stop in for a few minutes to see you at work. If your boss says that it is not okay, tell people not to come. If your boss says it is okay, then arrange a short visit for your family or friends. If you think they are staying too long or interrupting the work, tell them you have to get back to work or that it is time for them to leave.


Borrowing or lending money

Your money is your money and you get to decide how to use it. If you live with friends, you may need to pay part of the household expenses. Just like with family, you should talk about this and make a plan. Your friends should not be borrowing your money. They should go to their team or family members if they need money, or they should get a job. If you decide to lend a friend money, you should also tell someone else you trust that you are lending this money. Talk to your friend about when you expect to be paid back. You should not feel pressured to lend money. You should also not ask your friends for money. If you need money, talk to someone on your team or a family member. They can help you find ways to get the money you need, like getting a job or saving money over time. If you do borrow money, you need to pay it back as quickly as you can.


Borrowing or lending things

Just like with money, your things belong to you. Other people’s things belong to them. You might feel comfortable borrowing or lending items with family members and friends. If someone wants to borrow from you, you can say yes or no to them. You do not have to lend to them, and many times you shouldn’t. You might not get your item back or it might not be in good shape after someone else uses it.


Reading other people’s mail or e-mail

The things people get in the mail, like letters, bills, and documents, are their private property. You should not open or read someone’s mail unless they ask for help or assistance. If you get mail addressed to you, it is your property. If you need help reading your mail or deciding what to do with it, you can ask someone you trust to help you. Email is also private. The email messages that someone gets are just for them. You should not read someone’s email unless they share it with you. You should not share someone’s email unless they say it is okay. Your email is private too. No one should be reading your email unless you ask them to or you show it to them. No one should share your email without your permission.


Personal Space

Personal Space is the amount of space you like to have between yourself and another person. Different people have different needs for personal space. Sometimes people like to be close to their friends, like sitting right next to each other or talking and standing close. You can tell someone that you want more personal space. Or you can move or back away from them politely. If someone wants more personal space from you, do not be upset about this. It is just their preference. You can move back a step or two.


Talking about Personal Problems

Everyone has personal things that are going on in their life. It can be helpful to talk about your personal life with someone you trust. It can also be exciting to share your personal life with other people when something good is happening. Different kinds of relationships have different boundaries for talking about your personal life or problems. Friends usually care about what is going on in each other’s lives and want to talk about it. You can share personal information with trusted friends. You should choose carefully how much detail to share and make sure your friend can be trusted. You do not usually share secure information like bank account numbers or passwords with friends.



Secrets are conversations that are supposed to be kept private and not told to others. Sometimes people talk to someone they trust and don’t want everyone else to know about it. Sometimes secrets are happy things, like planning a surprise party, or getting a new job that you aren’t ready to tell everyone about. Sometimes secrets are sad or upsetting things. Most of the time, you should not tell someone’s secrets to other people. You should be trustworthy, which means that people can count on you to keep the secret private. Sometimes, secrets are dangerous. If someone tells you a secret that is dangerous, you need to talk to someone you trust right away. If your friend is doing something that makes you feel bad but tells you to keep it a secret, you need to talk to someone you trust about this. Don’t keep this a secret! If you have a happy secret, you can tell it to someone you trust to keep it private. If you have a sad secret or a dangerous secret, you should tell someone you trust that is on your team, like your service coordinator or doctor.

Think about some boundaries you have with your friends.