Sneaky Toxic Relationships


Nicole Walters Podcast

The Nicole Walters Podcast

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We’ve got to talk about this friend because it comes up all the time! While we’re at work, at home, in our relationships, with our kids, we’ve got to be intentional about our boundaries in toxic relationships.

In this chat we’re diving into who boundaries are for, how to set true boundaries, and what happens when we aren’t intentional with them. This is still tough for me friend but I’ve paid the price of not setting boundaries so this is a chat we need to have!

Thanks for being here today. I love that we can chat each week. Slide into my DMs @NicoleWalters to share your take on boundaries!



Hey friends, I have got to talk to you about this. And this is a big one because it comes up all the time. I have had quite the week and I don’t know if it’s just that I’m an emotional person or I’ve just been dealing with a lot but I feel like I have just been churny in my relationships. And part of it obviously is because relationships are churny, right? They have highs and lows, we’re always trying to navigate new boundaries and figure out how to interact with people. But the other part of it, I think, is I’m learning more about how I expect the people closest to me to show up in my life.

And one of the things that became really evident was after I had a conversation with a friend of mine, and it was really clear that this friend was seeking a friendship where I’d be more present. You know, where I’d be at every party and I would travel and I would do getaways. And this is their definition of friendship. And what was tough for me is in the season I’m in, and I think a lot of y’all, you know, because we’re so the same can relate to this, we have kids, we have jobs, careers, a million things we’re balancing, and, you know, I do believe in the saying, you make time for what matters to you. But after we consider, you know, kids, personal health, God, relationships, you know, sometimes there just isn’t much left, you know, at the end of the day in various seasons.

And it was tough for me, because boundaries are something I’ve always struggled with. When I tell you, I don’t know if it’s something you’ve ever run with, you know, some of us are like, Oh, no, I’m really good at saying no, I won’t do that. But saying No, for me has been hard. I am a fixer. I am a solver. I am a giver. I always want to make sure that the people around me are thriving, and I want to do whatever I can to help. And sometimes I do that to my own expense. I’ve seen it in my relationships, my partnerships, even at my employee-employer relationships, just everyone always becomes a mentee, or I’m always trying to, you know, make sure that people are doing really well and not necessarily giving them enough that they’re supposed to carry on their own.

And because of that, you know, it’s just been something I’ve had to work on. A great resource for that, if you’re really looking to work on your boundaries is there’s a great book by Dr. Netra. Tawab and it’s called Set boundaries, find peace. And it’s a New York Times bestseller. She just released her second book called drama free relationships, it’s all about families and just kind of getting the drama out of them, also a New York Times bestseller, she is crushing it, grab both books are available on Amazon, they are quick reads, but they have great tools on where boundaries show up and how, you know, you’ve got to use it. And the biggest takeaway that I’ve always gotten from her work is that boundaries are for me.

And one of the things that is a common misconception around boundaries is that we are setting them for other people. So that’s what makes it feel all cringy and weird. And IK is that, oh, I’m going to have to tell this person no, or I’m going to have to tell this person stop. Or I’m going to have to say you can’t do this and all that languaging can feel really uncomfortable if you are a recovering people pleaser. But what I can tell you is that being able to be very clear about what you can do, what you can’t do, what you have capacity for and what’s going to be too much for you is a really powerful tool.

So if you’re like me, and I know we’re the same in this, we never like to come up short. If we know we’re going to do something for a friend, if we know we’re going to help someone out, we want to be able to feel like we were able to show up completely. We want to make sure that we’re able to see things through. We want to make sure that we’re giving the best of ourselves. And the answer to that isn’t oh, to say yes to everything and then apologize if we fall short but guilt ourselves and feel shameful if we do. No, we’ve done enough of that. The answer to that is to only help out where we know we actually can only sacrifice and create space where it’s actually possible.

And for me, that has been everything. You’ve heard me talk about this in our previous chats. I literally was throwing my boundaries to the wind and working myself to death to high blood pressures to facial paralysis. I mean, I talk about this in my book, which is coming out this fall. And I go into detail about just all the things that I was going through and the root cause of it was yes, you know, a lot of different relationship things but it was boundaries. I just didn’t create them. My work was allowed to go as far as it wanted to, my partner was allowed to go as far as they wanted to, my kids were allowed to go as far as they wanted to. I just literally extended myself at no and and so now, as I’m building new relationships in Los Angeles, as I’m building new relationships as a girlfriend in this role, you know, who is dating someone who has their own family and their own friends. As I’m building new relationships as a recent divorcee, you know, like a lot has changed. And while I build these relationships, boundaries are at the forefront, because I found that one of the core reasons that I struggled with maintaining these boundaries, and I would get the most frustrated whenever they were crossed, was because I had expectations for others if I was able to show up for them in a certain capacity.

I always felt like if I showed up for you 100 times, I could definitely count on you to show up for me once. That if I showed up for you in a million ways doing this thing, or even in one really big way, in a way that you could never find anywhere else, that if I asked for one tiny thing, even if that tiny thing wasn’t something back, but it was grace, or ease, or a break, or space, or help that would benefit you, that I would certainly get that. And oh, friend, that isn’t the case. That is not how that works. And I know you know what I’m talking about.

It is that friend, that you do everything for, plan the Baby shower, plan all the things, and then you say to them, Hey, would you mind just picking up this thing for me at the store, and they’re like, Well, I can’t do that for you. And you’re like, Girl, I do all these things, I can’t even. And when I tell you if your brain is even processing it that way, because you’re upset that this happened, you have to remember that, if you never set a boundary, that you’re not going to go to the ends of the earth for a friend, they’re gonna keep asking you to go to the ends of the earth.

I have a funny story that happened to the little one, to Puffin, my 11 year old. And she gave me permission to tell this one. But basically, she had a friend, you know, in her class, and they went on a field trip. And as part of the field trip, they were allowed to stop by the gift shop. Now, Puffin has been doing little chores and odds and ends around the house in order to make extra cash, we don’t do allowances in our home, everybody works to make money. So she has managed to earn a nice bit of change, especially for an 11 year old and she asked for permission, you know, during the field trip to go ahead and be able to take a little bit of that with her to the gift shop. So she did. And she gets to the gift shop and her friend who did not bring any money was like, Oh, can you buy me something? Now Mama’s I know right now you’re all like, oh, here we go. Here we go.

Well, here’s what happened. Of course, you know, Puffin is just learning the value of money. She’s learning how money works. She’s learning about people, you know, she’s at that age, going into middle school where she’s really starting to navigate some of these friend relationships on her own. And her experience in our household with money is that, you know, if we go to a store, or if you’re given a budget, and you’re said, hey, you know, you have $20 to spend, you spend what you need to get what you want, and you bring back the change, right? That is in our family, we don’t try to live in excess. I’m so grateful and blessed that I have girls who really are kind, considerate, thoughtful and generous. And I mean, I literally could give them $100. And they will come back with $80, you know, because they will only ever get what they need because we do understand that money isn’t everything. And what’s interesting is, my little one didn’t realize that that may not be how the rest of the world works, you know? And so she was gonna learn that today. So she tells her friend while your budget is $30. Well, when her friend came back, and spent $24.99 plus tax, oh, she was hot. She was hot, I tell you.

And so when she comes back and tells us a story, you know, at the end of the school day, because I could tell she was a little upset about something. She was like, Yeah, you know, and it was like $27.99 after tax, and I just, I can’t reach them at all, I thought she was just gonna get like a pencil or something. And she didn’t even buy anything of high value. It was just a tiny stuffed animal. What’s the point? She already has six stuffed animals. I mean, she went on and on and on about how this person did exactly what she said they could do. And we had to have a conversation with her about, you know, boundaries. Saying, hey, you know, you set a boundary for her, and she walked right up to it. But she didn’t really do anything wrong. She did exactly what you said.

And so what that means is whenever you are going to set a boundary, that you’re hoping someone’s going to abide a boundary that you’re you’re wanting to be met, you need to check with yourself, what is your true boundary? Was your limit really $10? Or $5? And if so, then that’s really what you should have communicated. And furthermore, because y’all she expected this girl to pay her back and shout out to the girl she did pay her back. I will say we were all surprised, plot twist. Spoiler alert. None of us expected that to happen, right? But the girl did pay her back. And, you know, we also made clear to her that look, if you’re only lending money out to people in hopes that you get it back. Well, that is a quick way to lose a friend, sister, you know, you’ve got to understand that you only lend what you don’t expect to see back.

And she learned a very valuable lesson that day and I could see in her face and it all dawned on her. But what was nice was we coupled that with generosity. We said look, you know there’s nothing wrong with pursuing your dreams and pursuing your goals but I can’t have you always expecting someone to have your back and help you do it. Which brings us to today’s point, I know that part of what is being sold to us online is that we’ve got to have community and it is true. Life is hard when you’re doing it by yourself. It’s why I’m so thankful that we do so much here together. But it’s not just about buying into masterminds, or business groups, or joining clubs or being part of PTA. It’s also recognizing that building community only matters where it counts, you don’t necessarily need someone’s support for everything, especially if it’s not the right type of support.

So let me unpack that a bit. I have finally started realizing especially after hearing it so often from y’all in my DMs and just throughout my own life, that no one on this planet, even in your fancy pants business mastermind, is ever going to be as excited about your life, your idea, your relationship, your baby, your house, your new car, you name it, as you are. No one is ever going to be as invested, or as willing to protect it as willing to grow it as willing to do anything that helps you succeed and thrive the way that you are.

Now, let me tell you what that means. So many of us will feel really upset if we feel like even our partners or our spouse, or our parents or our best friends don’t get our idea, or they aren’t willing to commit and invest. And when I tell you the amount of energy, we will expend being upset at the fact that this person doesn’t seem to get it, or that they aren’t willing to be on board or Oh, we don’t support our friends the way we do these other artists or whoever. I mean, people will literally just get so turned upside down about this, that we’re not even doing our craft without realizing that listen, if you’re not ready to go at it and do it on your own, then you’re not ready. 

When I tell you that when I first started building my business 12 years ago, in the quiet moments of the night, where I had up one laptop, showing me YouTube videos on how to code and I was sitting in front of my desktop trying to figure out where I needed to plug in that backslash and that colon to make sure I didn’t mess something up because I was programming my own site because I didn’t have the coins to get it done. Y’all who was there with me? Not a single person. It was literally up to me to not only find the drive to do it, but to celebrate myself when I got it right.

Now, I’m not saying that I don’t have a great girl squad, Jen, Jada, Nikki, these women hold me up, they have championed me, they have shown up for me in ways that I could never imagine. They have just beyond been helpful in all things that I do. But ultimately, when it comes time to the real grunt work, when it comes time to the times where I’m feeling the most dejected or the most confused, or I’m trying to work myself out of a problem, or I have to do the hard work like terminating an employee or showing up for an event when I’d rather just be at home with my kiddos. Ain’t nobody coming to save you. <laughs> Okay, friend.

So while you’re sitting there saying to yourself all day, gosh, it’s so frustrating to feel like I have to go at this alone. That is a valid feeling. It is a real feeling. It is frustrating to have to do this stuff alone. Don’t be surprised if that’s going to be the case at several points during your journey. And also know that in a lot of ways, there’s something to be said for being able to do it alone. And this is what I’ve learned. I don’t need every single voice in my ear as I’m trying to make really tough decisions. And there’s no better place that I’ve learned this than starting a new relationship. I am in a relationship with an incredible man. And I talk about him a lot, because I love him a lot. And I care about him a lot, because he’s good to me. And he’s good to my daughters, and he’s good to my business. And it’s one of those things where I have to recognize that other people aren’t going to be as excited about it and they shouldn’t be because they’re not in it, you know, and other people aren’t going to experience the outcome of that relationship the same way because again, they’re not in it and your relationships, your business, anything you do, you are the person who’s going to experience the maximum fruits of that work.

So understand that if people only want to give the minimum contribution, that’s appropriate for the output they’re going to receive. So it really isn’t something that I’ve started turning to other people for their advice or their feedback. I mean, there’s one thing to have a really good friend kind of point out something and make sure that two and two adds up and you better believe that when I first started dating the misterfella that he went on tour, he met my sister, he met everyone before he had to get the stamp of approval. But after that, we hash out our own issues. You know, we leverage therapy and professionals for perspectives. And anyone who has a perspective outside of that, well, they can keep it. We don’t need to be cheered on in order to be successful. And I want to let you know, that’s the same way that I approach my business.

It was really difficult because being in a partnership with someone who wasn’t an entrepreneur, it also meant that they didn’t quite have an understanding of some of the stressors or the mindset things. Like Lord, how many times have we wanted to close our businesses or run the other way? You know, and when you consider that you’re talking to someone who may not understand all the nuances and the things you are going through? Why are we putting so much weight on their opinion, or their perspective or their validation, when they don’t even understand where we’re coming from? And the same thing applies with raising our kids, I mean, we will get turned upside down when someone has an opinion about what we feed our kids, is it GMOs or BPA is or you know, or what the bedtime is, or how we style them, or dress them or where we’re sending them to school, or you’re not teaching them a language yet? I mean, we will get turned upside down, because someone has an opinion, and especially if that someone is close to us, but remember, it’s your life to live. And even better, this is the greatest thing about our own lives, they aren’t required for you to be successful. Their validation isn’t required for you to be able to get where you want to go. And once you get there, especially when you did it without their validation, my God how much better does it taste?

I can’t tell you just think back with me for a moment friend of those moments where you were like, You know what, I sat around, and I never did this laundry, this pile kept growing. And then one day, I was just like, I’m just gonna get up and do it. I’m gonna get it done, because I kept waiting for other people to pitch in, or for the kids to help out or for something to change. And finally, I was like, I’m just gonna knock this out and get it done. How good did it feel? Don’t lie, you went over to your linen closet, and you open it and you looked at those folded towels more than once because it felt good. Because you put them there and you did it. I cannot wait for the day that I get to see my youngest baby cross the graduation stage. I cannot wait for the day that my youngest baby comes in and says Mom, I accomplished the thing that I meant to do, and I get to celebrate her. Because there are so many people who will always have opinions on how you do things and where you get there. But the moments of celebration that you get to have with the people you love the most because you did it anyways, is everything.

I want you to know that I’ve been leaving messages for you on Instagram, I call them my little lessons. And in these little lessons every single day, I’m dropping just a little note, something that I am either experiencing myself or two lines that finally connected and they’re making sense. Or something that was said to me that I’m like, Oh my gosh, that’s a gem, that’s gold, and everyone needs to know it. And I want to let you know that one of the things that I shared recently was this one. And this went lowkey viral just because people were like, Oh my gosh, like you are absolutely dead on.

“Maybe your ideas, dreams, goals, aspirations, beliefs aren’t too big. Maybe the rooms that you’re in, the person you married, the city that you live in, the friends that you’ve made, the job that you have, are too small. Sometimes we don’t choose to move forward, not because we’re afraid that the dream will fail, but because when it works, we’ll discover that we’ll have to change our life.”

Friend, don’t let other people keep you from pursuing what you should pursue simply because they can’t understand the magnitude of where you are going to go. You cannot take directions from people who don’t know your destination. Continue to move forward. Recognize that you don’t need the backup, the support, the validation, the perspectives, because ultimately, you are doing the work. Go get um friend.

In this episode, we chat about:
  • Who boundaries are for,
  • How to set true boundaries, especially in sneaky toxic relationships,
  • The mistakes I’ve made in the past with boundaries, and
  • What happens when we aren’t intentional with our boundaries

Resources and links mentioned in this episode:
  • Send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram
  • Find Nedra Tawwab and her books HERE
  • Book a 20 min call to see if you’re the right fit for a VIP day!
  • Don’t miss our last episode with The Misterfella on Marriage, Money & More!
  • I love reading your reviews of the show! You can share your thoughts on Apple here!

More about The Nicole Walters Podcast:

If you’re looking for the strategies and encouragement to pursue a life of purpose, this is the podcast for you! Week after week Nicole Walters will have you laughing hysterically while frantically taking notes as she shares her own personal stories and answers your DMs about life, business, and everything in between.

As a self-made multimillionaire and founder of the digital education firm, Inherit Learning Company, Nicole Walters is the “tell-it-like-it-is” best friend that you can’t wait to hang out with next.

When Nicole shows up, she shows OUT, so tune in each week for a laugh, a best friend chat, plus the strategies and encouragement you need to confidently live a life of purpose.

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