Not Sure How to Say It? Try These Boundary-Setting Messages
"Most people will understand if you politely and kindly tell them that you're not available; you don't necessarily need to give a lengthy explanation of why you're not available," said Sharon Martin, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist in San Jose, CA. Here are a few messages you can send verbatim, or tweak to meet your needs.
- "That sounds fun, but unfortunately, it's not going to work for me."
- "Thank you for thinking of me! I'm a bit overloaded, so I'm going to have to pass."
- "I've been online so much lately. I really need to take a break from it. Let's reschedule for another time."
- Richard Brouillette, LCSW, suggested a simple message, such as, "I really appreciate you checking in, and I want to connect soon. I'm taking some private time to rest right now, and will be in touch when I'm ready." Remember that there's no need to apologize for setting boundaries, he added.
- Let the person know that it's not a personal rejection, said Kellie "Casey" Cook, a licensed professional counselor in Texas. Say, "Hey, I miss you so much and really want to chat, but I've been in Zoom meetings all day and my eyes are exhausted. Maybe we could talk Saturday instead?" or "I want you to know it means so much to me that you always take time to check up on me. I'm mentally exhausted and need to take the evening to myself, though. Can I call you later this week?"