My best friend lives in Florida, so we stay in touch through lots of talking on the phone and texting. She knows I care about her, yet I still need boundaries with her. That may sound confusing to some who think of boundaries as merely walls to shut people out, but this aspect of boundaries is about priorities.

My best friend is high on my priority list as far as people go, especially when she is going through difficult circumstances. I intentionally invest into our relationship because I love her and care about our friendship. Even so, I still need boundaries.

Without boundaries, I would be “forced” to pick up the phone every time she called or to respond to her texts immediately even if that meant sacrificing something else such as family time at the dinner table or a quiet date with my husband. Other times, I know I just don’t have the emotional capacity to talk if I’ve had a busy day or I’m going through hardships myself. The point is, I get to decide whether to respond to her calls.

My friend knows this about me and she even has boundaries herself, which is one of the reasons we have a healthy relationship. I’m very honest about the boundaries I have. I don’t make a big deal about them. I just merely say things like, “Oh, sorry I’m just now calling you back. Yesterday was family day.” Or “I have one hour to talk later this afternoon, if that works for you.” I’m just up front with what I have to offer.

My best friend (along with the other healthy people in my life) respects my boundaries. She doesn’t get offended or feel rejected. She assumes the best of me and doesn’t view my boundaries as being against her.

The beauty in all of this is that because my yes means yes and my no means no, my friend understands that whatever I give her is given out of love and freedom. Whether I’m sending her a gift in the mail or listening and empathizing over the phone, she knows I’m doing this because I want to. It’s not that I feel obligated or pressured; it’s because I love her and want to be there for her. And that communicates love.

Think about it. Would you rather the people around you give from a sense of duty and obligation? Or would you rather people give from a place of freedom, knowing they have the right to say yes or no? Which one communicates love?

Side note: This definitely does not mean that we only do what’s comfortable. It doesn’t mean we withhold when we just don’t feel like it. Many of the choosing we do comes from having a vision—vision for stronger relationships, vision for our goals, etc.—and those choices often hurt and stretch us beyond what feels good.

I appreciate your feedback. What sticks out to you in this blog? Are there areas in your life in which you feel you are giving under obligation? How would your relationships change if you set appropriate boundaries to ensure you are giving out of love and freedom? Please comment below!