Confrontation with anyone, let alone your friends, can be difficult. One of the skills we hope to develop is how to stand up for ourselves and advocate for our needs with other people. This doesn’t only mean learning how to ask for what we need, but also learning how to confront others when we feel our boundaries have been violated or in some other way upset by others.
When strengthening a previous area of weakness and developing a new skill, it is not uncommon to overcompensate a bit. For example, if you have struggled with handling conflict or issues with confrontation and you learn some new skills to improve your assertiveness, you may find yourself confronting people more often than necessary. It can be exciting to access dormant sides of yourself, but within that excitement can also lead to overdoing it, as well.
It can take a struggle in this area before realizing that there is such a thing as too much confrontation. It’s a good thing to be able to handle conflict in a healthy manner, but it’s still important to acknowledge two-way dynamics with someone else and pick the battles that are most important. Balance is important.
Why not just confront every issue with our new confrontation skills? Isn’t it important to communicate and not hold things inside?
It is important to communicate well, but it’s equally important to know when the interpersonal confrontation needs, or doesn’t need, to happen. Part of being a good communicator is also understanding when it’s not necessary to confront and let something go.
Remember, when you are annoyed or frustrated by something and you choose to raise the issue, you’re not opening the conversation only to say you are frustrated, you’re likely also looking for your friends to respond by adjusting their actions to accommodate this in the future. Each time you raise an issue, it’s asking for an accommodation to be made. If this is overdone, it could put stress on the relationship Confronting Friends, including putting the other person in the position of closing off to you and becoming more cautious around you rather than more open.
When there is an issue that one could confront, it is good to first understand the issue internally, and then decide if this is an issue that’s worthy of addressing with the other person Confronting Friends, or working to let go. Letting something go doesn’t mean that you should leave issues unresolved. On the contrary, it means that you choose to actually let it go, without further need to confront (this can be done in therapy if you struggle to let go in these situations).
In every relationship or friendship, there comes a point when we all need to make a decision to accept people for their limitations or decide to distance ourselves from a person if they are repeatedly triggering emotional distress. For each person, learning to understand where your boundaries are — what needs to be confronted, what can be worked on on your own, what is theirs and what is yours, and when to distance yourself — will help you understand which battles are most important.