Boundaries, Besties, & Balance: A Guide to Healthy Friendships

Maintaining friendships in college can be such a difficult thing to manage at times. We’re often hard on ourselves for not having the most accommodating schedule, having life get in the way, and truly not having enough hours in a day.

Over the course of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, it was hard not being able to see our friends. Many individuals saw the lifting of regulations and life going back to “semi-normal” conditions to compensate for lost time but fall short.

Listen, we understand. But it’s important that in these moments where we feel most vulnerable, to put our needs and our boundaries first. Because true friendships are accommodating, flexible, and understanding.

It can be hard to know where to start when one’s struggling with this balance of friendships and college when you’re already feeling overwhelmed with classes and other aspects of your life. But what better way to start than words from our student community?

AJ Jammal, senior, says “The challenge with maintaining friendships in college is that there are times when everyone is really busy focused on classes, work, and when you get so caught up in it you don’t get to see your friends or even catch up with them as often as you’d like.”

It’s true, who doesn’t like spending time with friends? Hanging with the people you love being around is a little escape from the busy reality we face. But on the other hand, it’s hard to face when that feeling of love and appreciation of friendship isn’t reciprocated.

Pakou Thao, freshman, says, “When entering college, I have learned that you will not find your people in an instant. You’ll win and lose some but at the end of the day, you’ll see who you should be putting more effort into.”

In the moment, it may be a hard realization to make, because let’s face it, it’s hard losing friends, but your true and real friends will know when to be understanding when other commitments take priority. And with the friends that do stick around, you’ll see that it was more than worth it.

Sometimes we need a sense of reassurance when we’re hard on ourselves about finding this sweet spot of balance between friendship and school.

Avery Jennings, sophomore, says, “I’ve been ok with not perfectly organizing every aspect of my life with my friendships. It’s impossible to have everything be perfect every time so learning to be ok with a little misstep here or there is what I’ve done.”

It’s going to be a journey of finding peace with knowing that an effective balance is needed for friendship.

Imoni DeJesus, Junior, says something that really worked for her was “mixing self-care and friendships.” DeJesus says, “Chances are if you need some time to decompress from the stresses of college, your friends are also in need of some relaxation too. Making time to take breaks alone and with others is important in balancing all aspects of life that are important to me. Trust me, it is not an easy task but once you get it down, it is life-changing.”

On the note of self-care, remember that it’s okay to say no to things and stick to boundaries that you set for others and yourself.

DeJesus says, “As much as I want to set boundaries with others, it is important to set boundaries for yourself. Being able to say no to things is a huge way to do so, it also forces you to prioritize the things you decide are more important. It is a healthy way of keeping your sanity.”

Sanity and self-care are key to making sure you’re still putting yourself first. Because being your best self is one of the steps to being your best type of friend too.

Their words are a great reminder to take a deep breath, and as cliche, as it may be, know that you’re not alone and that your real ones will always have your back.

For further reading, check these articles out!

This blog post was provided to you by Marquette University’s Center for Student Wellness and Health Promotion. Our writer for this week was Juls Cabello, a junior in the College of Health Sciences who is passionate about health and equity.



Marquette University Student Wellness Center

We are committed to advancing the overall health and wellbeing of the students at Marquette University through comprehensive wellness services and programming.