Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > Poly Relationships Corner

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-30-2011, 03:29 AM
Seasnail's Avatar
Seasnail Seasnail is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 77
Default Boundary discussions?

I had planned to go camping with my lover's girlfriend, and a mutual friend of ours to a group camping event. Not a poly camp, but a recreational club with chapters in different towns. We're not really "out" and most of our friends, including the one we were going camping with, just assume that we're close friends. My lover isn't into the club, and works weekends anyways, which is why he wasn't coming.

Anyway, lover's girlfriend got called in to work, and so it was me and the mutual friend. I don't know him super-well, but got to know him a little better over the weekend. As I get to know people, I become more comfortable around them, and I relax my boundaries, beginning to offer more smiles, hugs, and talk about my personal life.

When he dropped me off at home after the weekend, there was a moment of awkwardness, and I realised he was disappointed that I wasn't offering a kiss goodbye. Now, in my mind, all I had ever been offering was friendship and affection. But I think in his mind I had possibly been offering romance. While I think he is a great guy, I am neither attracted to him nor looking to add any romance to my life at this time.

I spent time with him in discussion, enjoyed meals together, and so on. He graciously offered me a foot rub, which I accepted, and at one point we sat side by side with our knees touching. He bought me an ice cream cone. I hung around in shorts and a bathing suit top, and he likewise took off his shirt in the heat of the day (and asked me if I'd be offended about it, which surprised me at the time... why would I be offended?) Looking back on it, I can kind-of see how it *might* be concieved of as a very innocent date. But none of those things are out of line for my idea of reasonable friendships, and in fact look A LOT like how I am friends with, for instance, my lover's girlfriend.

So, I theorise that we have differing ideas about the boundaries between friendship and romance. Does anyone else have experiences in similar situations? I value his friendship and don't want to hurt his feelings. I don't want to lead him on, but I also don't want to have to regulate myself around him all the time and avoid showing affection when I feel it. I plan to mention these things when I see him next, and I hope it will go well, but I'm not too hopeful. I get the feeling that he doesn't have a lot of experience with open communication and I believe he will be uncomfortable.

The part where my lover isn't out is, of course, part of the complications in my thoughts on the incident. My lover thinks the mutual friend is unaware of our relationship, and doesn't discuss polyamory with him because he's not open to it. I think it's impossible that the mutual friend hasn't observed the closeness between my lover and I, including a possible kiss goodbye here & there. I worry that such an observation may have influenced this friend's perception of his interactions with me, and I am not really free to discuss my relationship with my lover with the mutual friend in any case.

All this to say, I'm a bit stressed over it. I feel a bit guilty because I feel like I should have seen it coming, and I wonder if it's wrong to be a touchy-feely kind of person if it's going to hurt people.

And then I also feel irritated with him for placing expectations on me. An offer of ice cream should be precicely that, and not part of an equation that ends in a kiss. I don't get that reaction from other friends who have an interest in dating me... they accept where my boundaries are different from their own without taking hurt from it. BUT they are also the polyamorous ones...
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 08-30-2011, 03:35 AM
MichelleZed MichelleZed is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 194
Default

Well, how disappointed was he? He didn't say anything about it, did he? He just seemed disappointed? That tells me he didn't expect so much as hope for a kiss, and was just sad he didn't get one.

I don't see disrespect for your boundaries here, unless you felt some kind of pressure mixed in with his disappointment.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-30-2011, 03:50 AM
Seasnail's Avatar
Seasnail Seasnail is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 77
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleZed View Post
Well, how disappointed was he? He didn't say anything about it, did he? He just seemed disappointed? That tells me he didn't expect so much as hope for a kiss, and was just sad he didn't get one.

I don't see disrespect for your boundaries here, unless you felt some kind of pressure mixed in with his disappointment.
You're right, he didn't say anything, he just seemed disappointed. Maybe he was just sad he didn't get one.

I did feel some kind of pressure, and do still I guess. I don't think he has disrespected my boundaries at all. He is quite gentlemanly and would certainly not push me to do something I was unwilling to do. But I worry that we may have different ideas of where the boundaries of friendship and romance are which was the cause of both of our discomfort when he realised there wasn't going to be a kiss goodbye, and that THAT is likely to come up again and again unless we speak openly about it.

The pressure I feel, I'm not entirely sure where that all is coming from. But I think maybe it's related to wondering if it's wrong to be a touchy-feely kind of person if it's going to give people the wrong idea. It feels nice to sit next to someone, or to give thanks for some kindness in the form of a hug. Is it my responsibility to make sure everyone I sit next to or hug doesn't take it as a romantic overture? Is it unfair of me to want that kind of affection in a friendship that isn't romantic? I guess it's not so much about him as about me.

Last edited by Seasnail; 08-30-2011 at 03:55 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-30-2011, 04:01 AM
nycindie's Avatar
nycindie nycindie is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
Posts: 7,289
Default

I agree with MZ. I wouldn't make a mountain out of a molehill. If you had kissed him, probably would have made his day, but you didn't and so he pouted a little. Not your responsibility, and he'll get over it. I'm wonder about camping together, though. He might be hoping for more, and if he doesn't know about you and your lover, maybe he just thinks you're single. No biggie, I don't think.

I would talk to him before embarking on the camping trip (oh wait a minute, was the time you spent together with him this weekend already the camping trip?? Or is the trip upcoming? I'm confused!).

Well, in any event, if you do feel the need to talk to him, all you have to say to him is something like,"Hey, you know, I'm enjoying our friendship. But I just want to make sure you know my plate is full relationship-wise, and I'm not looking for more. I just want to be friends with you. You cool with that?" Boom, done. Rather than explaining poly or anything, just keep it simple.

Oh, and I have a friend is is very touchy-feely-kissy, and it was torture when I had a crush on him, but eventually the crush dissipated (almost) and I just leaned to enjoy it without worrying about what it meant or where it could lead. I'm pretty affectionate too, and will often reach out and stroke a person's shoulder or whatever. As long as your intention is clear and you're not feeling apprehensive about doing it, it won't give off the wrong vibe. What people do with their own fucked-up expectations about touch, in this touch-deprived society of ours, is their problem. Of course, we should always trust our intuition and not reach out to the wrong person if we get a really bad and dangerous vibe from them.
__________________
The world opens up... when you do.

Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me. ~Bryan Ferry
"Love is that condition in which another person's happiness is essential to your own." ~Robert Heinlein

Last edited by nycindie; 08-30-2011 at 04:07 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-30-2011, 04:38 AM
Seasnail's Avatar
Seasnail Seasnail is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 77
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
I agree with MZ. I wouldn't make a mountain out of a molehill. If you had kissed him, probably would have made his day, but you didn't and so he pouted a little. Not your responsibility, and he'll get over it. I'm wonder about camping together, though. He might be hoping for more, and if he doesn't know about you and your lover, maybe he just thinks you're single. No biggie, I don't think.

I would talk to him before embarking on the camping trip (oh wait a minute, was the time you spent together with him this weekend already the camping trip?? Or is the trip upcoming? I'm confused!).

Well, in any event, if you do feel the need to talk to him, all you have to say to him is something like,"Hey, you know, I'm enjoying our friendship. But I just want to make sure you know my plate is full relationship-wise, and I'm not looking for more. I just want to be friends with you. You cool with that?" Boom, done. Rather than explaining poly or anything, just keep it simple.

Oh, and I have a friend is is very touchy-feely-kissy, and it was torture when I had a crush on him, but eventually the crush dissipated (almost) and I just leaned to enjoy it without worrying about what it meant or where it could lead. I'm pretty affectionate too, and will often reach out and stroke a person's shoulder or whatever. As long as your intention is clear and you're not feeling apprehensive about doing it, it won't give off the wrong vibe. What people do with their own fucked-up expectations about touch, in this touch-deprived society of ours, is their problem. Of course, we should always trust our intuition and not reach out to the wrong person if we get a really bad and dangerous vibe from them.
Nycindie, thankyou so much for the little boot of reality. (Yes, the camping trip WAS the time we spent together - and I was expecting my lover's girlfriend to be there, but she backed out at the last minute due to work.) I think I'll feel better when I'm sure that I've been clear about my intentions. I think the apprehension comes from wondering if I've given mixed signals. I certainly don't get a bad or dangerous vibe from him. He seems honourable and trustworthy.

I'm going to practice saying "I'm enjoying our friendship. But I just want to make sure you know my plate is full and I'm not looking for any new romantic relationships. I just want to be friends with you. You cool with that?" so that I'm ready for when I see him next (possibly at a BBQ next weekend at my lover's place.)
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-30-2011, 04:44 AM
nycindie's Avatar
nycindie nycindie is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
Posts: 7,289
Default

Oh, I didn't mean to imply that he was a dangerous guy. I was just starting to spin off into a thing about touching in general.

Glad that I could be helpful!
__________________
The world opens up... when you do.

Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me. ~Bryan Ferry
"Love is that condition in which another person's happiness is essential to your own." ~Robert Heinlein
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-30-2011, 02:10 PM
Seasnail's Avatar
Seasnail Seasnail is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 77
Default

I understood that the danger talk was a spin-off, but it's helpful to be reminded of these things too. I'll post how it goes after I see him.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 08:26 AM.