'If you don't respect me or you don't take my feelings into consideration, then we have no business being friends.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 2, 2022. It has since been updated.
Personal boundaries with friends and family can be a complex minefield to navigate. Aside from how difficult it is to set boundaries with our loved ones, some people also find it hard to understand and recognize what another person's boundaries are, as they tend to be based on subjective needs and wants. Luckily, TikTok user Kelsey Laurier has the perfect solution for this quandary. In a video that's been viewed more than 258,000 times since being uploaded, Laurier shared her "rule of 3" technique in response to a question asking her to give "examples of the boundaries" she sets in friendships.
"Something that has really helped me establish boundaries with people is my 'Rule of 3.' I have to tell you something once, [that's] okay. I'm telling you once. I'm bringing up the problem, and I'm establishing the boundary or the issue that I'm having," she says in the video. "If I have to tell you twice—[that's] okay, I'm telling you twice. I'm going to give people the same grace that I would like to be given. So if I really care about you, I don't mind bringing up something twice. But if I have to tell you something three times, you can kiss my whole entire Black ass. I will cut you off without warning."
Laurier then goes on to explain why this approach works for her. "When I cut somebody off, I never hear from them again—because they know exactly why I'm not talking to them. It's also a great way to see who respects you and who doesn't. And if you don't respect me or you don't take my feelings into consideration, then we have no business being friends," she stated. The video struck a chord with many on the platform, with one commenter even sharing that they thought they were losing it when it came to setting boundaries in their own personal life.
"Girl I needed this because people act like I’m tripping when I already told them the deal," wrote the TikTok user named Fran, to which Laurier responded: "You’re not tripping, people love to do that when you try to hold them accountable." Meanwhile, another commenter named April explained why this boundary tip works. "Once is communicating, twice is reminding, three times is begging—and we do not beg," they wrote. Someone else with the username @audreymad, commented: "Except it’s not actually cutting them off without warning bc you brought up the issue with them twice! So they wholly deserve it."
Speaking to BuzzFeed about how and why she first started using her rule of 3, Laurier revealed: "Most of my life, I was a people pleaser. I was raised to always put others' needs before my own. As I got older, I realized how much damage this had done to my mental health. I had a tendency to keep friends around far too long after they had shown me they were not supportive or respectful." She explained that it was only when she started going to therapy and reading self-help books that she realized her life lacked boundaries. "It stemmed from low self-worth," she said. "I knew if I wanted to start having friendships that felt reciprocal and not one-sided, I needed to learn how to stand up for myself and set standards for people."
"I started to come up with my 'Rule of 3' when I was thinking about my past friendships and asking myself, 'When was the moment I realized my friendship with someone was probably not going to work out?' Typically, my answer was after the third time they did something that hurt me," she continued. "Of course, the old me continued to be friends with them, and I had to learn the hard way. But I made a promise to myself that moving forward, after three times, it was going to be a deal-breaker... three times is more than enough confirmation to know you need to part ways with someone."
While Laurier's "Rule of 3" can be useful in many situations, she emphasized that there are certain boundaries that do not need to be set. "Behaviors like stealing from you, gossiping about you, or making advances on your romantic partner should be a one-strike thing. Also, if you have a friend who is emotionally or physically abusive to you or others, you need to remove them from your life immediately," she explained. "My advice would be to start out with smaller things like putting your phone on Do Not Disturb at night, or not immediately saying 'yes' to plans so you have time to think about things before you commit. Small habits like these made me a lot more comfortable with putting my needs first."