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Old 07-30-2015, 08:34 PM
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Default Boundaries within relationships

Can we talk personal boundaries as they relate to poly? Specifically, what boundaries do you have in your romantic/sexual relationships? Maybe how you arrived at those boundaries (ie Did you have previous boundaries that were breached, or rules that you outgrew & tossed? etc.)

My reason for asking is that I'm struggling a bit with determining whether some of my boundaries are really beneficial to me/my relationships or are just residual vestiges from monogamy that would be better discarded.

I don't do rules per se. While I see value in rules within certain relationships (employee-employer, teacher-student, parent-child, etc.), I prefer to conduct my adult relationships without rules. My personal boundaries within a poly relationship are that I would like to know when my partner adds a new romantic or sexual partner, goes barrier free with a sexual partner for the first time, or makes decisions that entangles his/her life with another partner (marriage, cohabitation, ttc, etc.)

Currently, I'm only in relationship with Blue (hetero poly m) though I just reopened my OKC profile. Where I'm struggling is the boundary of needing to know when my partner adds a new romantic partner. Sexual partner affects my health, so yes, I need to know that (regardless of whether we are using barriers, it's still relevant information, imo.) But, do I really need to know when he goes out on a date for the first time? I want to know... but do I need to know? If it's not affecting our time together, is it really relevant to our relationship?

ETA: In rereading this, these boundaries do read more like rules than boundaries since I am expecting certain behavior from my partner(s)....

Last edited by PinkPig; 07-30-2015 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 07-30-2015, 09:03 PM
KC43 KC43 is online now
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That's up to you. If you *want* to know that Blue is seeing a new partner, then in my opinion, that's enough of a reason to have that as a boundary.

Even though S2 and I are not currently in a relationship, one boundary I set during the relationship was that I wanted to know if he had a date with anyone else--*before* the date, so I would have a chance to process the news and deal with it on my own before it actually happened and would therefore be able to be happy and supportive if he told me about the date afterward. He only went on one date, and told me about it beforehand. That was last fall before we were even calling our thing a relationship.

He has another date planned for next weekend--and he told me about it last night, a day after the woman asked him out. Even though we aren't in a relationship anymore, I had asked him to continue being honest with me if he chose to see someone else, and he's honoring that request. We aren't having sex at this point either, but he's also accepting and honoring my boundary of not telling me if he has sex with this other woman, and the one of either using a condom or giving me a heads-up about having had unprotected sex if we start having sex again. (We'd been barrier free since about a month after we started seeing each other; if we go back to having sex, it would still be barrier free unless I was concerned about sexual health, so I feel that *if we start having sex again* I would have a right to know about any unprotected sex he's had in the interim. Otherwise, I don't need to know.)

Previously, I wanted to know if he had a date with someone else *and* if he had sex with her... The "if he had sex with her" part was added after his date last fall, because he did *not* tell me he'd had sex with her, let alone that it was unprotected, and we had to deal with an STD scare that fortunately turned out to be nothing. But both of those boundaries had been irrelevant until now, because he wasn't seeing anyone other than me... And I changed the one about wanting to know if he has sex with another partner because right now he and I aren't, and I know myself. If he isn't having sex with anyone--or I don't think he is--I don't take it personally that he and I aren't having sex. If I found out that he is having sex with another partner but he still isn't willing to have sex with me, I would feel like it was something personal, and I would also feel like he'd lied, since he's told me more than once that he doesn't want to have sex with anyone at all right now and it has nothing to do with me whatsoever.

But anyway, as I said, only you can decide whether a boundary you've set is relevant for your relationship. If you're more comfortable knowing that Blue is going on the first date with a new partner, and Blue is okay with honoring that boundary, I see no reason why you shouldn't keep it.

Last edited by KC43; 07-30-2015 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 07-30-2015, 09:54 PM
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My partners and I have agreed to tell each other when we're interested in someone new. Specifically, before the first date (if possible) or if it were a spontaneous occurrence, soon after. We inform each other of all sexual partners, regardless of barrier free or safer sex practices used. But this isn't set in stone.

I don't know if I'd call it a boundary (because you're right, it isn't about me, it's about my partner's behavior) OR a rule (because it's not inflexible, there won't be "consequences" if they don't, it would simply be easier for me to know in advance).

I'd like a heads up if they are interested in someone new, so I can get myself in a place where I'm okay. Right now, neither of them are dating. If they decide to date, which they are welcome to do, I don't wait to be caught off guard. Plus, I love knowing about their lives and want to see them happy!

I struggle with jealousy at times, but I handle it better if I can predict or plan for things. Of course, it doesn't always work like that, because, um, life , but that's why it's a request. I'll even say a "soft" request. They can always say no, and I'll respect that.

I'll add that I do NOT have vetoes in my relationship. It is not like I'll looking to "approve" or "disapprove" of their dating of someone.

But my partners are both okay with this request, at this time at least. I talked with both of them before when I was considering dating one of my best friends, Indigo (we decided not to for now). And if I did decide to date Indigo, I planned to ask Roger to let Taylor know. Not that I HAD to, but as a nice heads up for sexual health purposes (because safer sex isn't completely safe). And I'd hope she would do the same in exchange, given that all four of us are barrier free at this time.

My partners and I are pretty involved in each other's lives though (one live-in partner, the other moving in in a few months), so I could see why these agreements would not work for others or even for us if things change in the future.

Very thought provoking question!
Me (Chrissy): Late 20's, female, bi/pansexual, poly, married to Roger (together for 14+ years) and dating Jack in a LDR (5+ years)
Roger: Early 30's, male, poly, married to Chrissy and dating Taylor in a LDR (1+ year)
Jack: Late 20's, male, currently mono, dating Chrissy
Taylor: Late 30's, female, currently mono, dating Roger
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Old 07-30-2015, 10:45 PM
Inyourendo Inyourendo is offline
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I have a few boundaries and I have made exceptions depending on the situation and people/

1. condoms are a must (nate doesn't have any other barrier free partners at the moment but when he does they are required to only be barrier free with him and he only has 1 barrier free partner besides myself at a time.)

2. I dont want people in my home (I made exceptions for people who absolutely can't host like they live with family, live out of town, or are friends of mine). I just don't like having people into my house, has nothing to do with poly. having people over gives me a lot of anxiety.

3. No treating on dates (exceptions have been made when it's a friend of ours and we are all going out together and it's someone who could not afford to go otherwise) It occurred to me when Nate started going on dates we just couldn't afford for him to be paying for other people as we are a one income family.

4. When I'm home that is my time and Nate needs to be home with me. (The exception is if it is someone who very rarely can hook up then I let Nate take off for a couple hours) The reason for this is because I am only home 3 nights a week due to work and my boyfriend. Nate has plenty of time to see people outside of that time I'm home.

Last edited by Inyourendo; 07-30-2015 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 07-30-2015, 10:47 PM
Inyourendo Inyourendo is offline
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we also dont have vetos. I generally dont have any involvement with the people nate is screwing. If I didnt like someone then i simply wouldnt have anything to do with them. I trust that nate wouldn't be involved with someone who was toxic
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:54 AM
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Both my guys are monogamous with me. However, PunkRock asked about a hypothetical - what if he did want to be open? We discussed these boundaries, which were ones that were already in place for me:

1 This is what I need to hear from you "I am going to see this person on X day, at X location, at X time. I will return at X time." (I control the shared calendar and constantly am shifting things around.)

2 we will practice safe sex - condoms, no bareback without prior discussion.

3 I will let you know if plans change - if date doesn't happen or if it ends up a different location. Text is fine. (This is mostly in case there is an emergency and we need to know where the other is. I am notorious for having a dead battery on my phone. Also, I was sexually assaulted at one point, and I had neglected to tell anyone where I was going, other than on a date. So now I make sure that my location is very clear.)

4 this time spent with other partners will not make less or impact time spent with each other. (We trade off nights, so this shouldn't be an issue.)

5 I will be ethical and upfront with my partners about my relationship status - married but open. This goes for all online dating sites.

6 Money used to date will not impact our family budget. It will come from individual budgets.

7 I will not attempt to date messy people - coworkers of either of ours, family, no crazy people. These specific people: __________.

8 some notice before a sleepover happens at our house. Discussion and veto power on this, either way. (This was put in place when all of our bedrooms were on the same floor. No soundproofing.)

9 Facebook relationship status will not be changed without discussion.

I am currently on hold from dating until October, at his request. I slept with someone in February and it sort of shocked him, I think, as I had been monogamous (excepting DarkKnight) for a year. I asked him to please read More Than Two before setting out into the dating world, and he agreed. We went through up to chapter 3, and then he didn't want to read any more, so I guess we are both closed at the moment. Honestly, I don't think he has any real interest in dating, but maybe that will change in the future.
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Old 07-31-2015, 01:49 PM
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Thank you all for your input. It does seem that my boundaries are similar to others and reasonable. To be clear, Blue has been very accommodating. Honestly, he's more forthcoming than I require. He does tell me before he meets someone for the first time (online dating), or before the first date even though I've not specifically requested prior notice. I do prefer to know before hand so (as many of you've said), I can prepare myself emotionally. It helps because my initial reaction is anxiety and insecurity and the more time I have to prepare myself, the more likely I am to be genuinely happy and excited for him when the date actually arrives. The first time he dated someone new, it was well into their relationship before I felt compersion. Now, I can usually make the transition from insecurity and anxiety to compersion in less than a day. Not to say that the fear/anxiety doesn't resurface occasionally but I love this man and I genuinely want to see him happy

I live in a conservative area of the US and spent years in a fundamental christian church. It's been a process untangling my past programming from my experiences and intuition and I sometimes still find myself wanting to act /react out of habit. Hence questioning whether my boundaries are healthy and reasonable and make sense.
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:29 PM
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Your boundaries seem quite reasonable to me.

Re (from OP):
"What boundaries do you have in your romantic/sexual relationships?"
Since my companions are very considerate and help to meet my needs, I haven't felt the need to declare any boundaries. That doesn't mean I couldn't declare any in the future, just that I don't feel the need to do so right now. I am fortunate. I am also in a small poly-fi unit (a V), so there aren't many variables in the equation.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
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Old 08-01-2015, 10:50 PM
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I look at boundaries as something altogether different from rules or things a partner should or shouldn't do.

I don't see it very useful to come up with things that a lover has to do or not do in order for me to feel secure, happy, satisfied, or that the relationship is working, because then all those things are dependent upon that other person meeting my expectations -- and my experience is that expectations are usually the killer of good relating.

Besides that, anyone who needed a set of rules dictated by me in order to keep their behavior in check is not the type of person I would ever choose to become involved with! I mean, come on, if I have to tell someone not to lie to me, what kind of relationship is this? If I don't tell someone they need to respect me, will they try and get away with all manner of shit because I didn't lay it all out for them in black and white? WTF?

I would rather be in charge of my sense of security, happiness, and satisfaction, and so I see my personal boundaries as a set of flexible preferences that only I can act upon, change, rescind, or tweak, according to what feels right to me rather than whether a lover can live up to a to-do list or not. My boundaries, when I write them out and look them over, seem somewhat less specific than what many have posted here. Mine are more about the overall gestalt of things, I think.

  • I will always use condoms.
  • I don't date drug addicts.
  • I don't stay in a relationship where there is abuse of any kind.
  • I will not hold my schedule open for someone who doesn't confirm a date within a reasonable amount of time ("reasonable" according to me).
  • I will not date anyone who allows any of their partners a veto.
  • I will not tolerate dishonest/unclear/manipulative communication, or no effort to make communication work between us.
  • I strive to say what I mean and mean what I say. Example: no means no; yes means yes.
  • I manage my own relationships and negotiate only within each dyad. This means I will not attempt to manage or make rules for my lovers' other relationships, nor will I tolerate a metamour or other lover attempting to manage any of my relationship by setting rules for me.
  • I need to feel respected, valued, and heard.
  • I need to feel safe to be myself with someone I'm dating.
  • I need to be able to openly express my affections for someone.
In all the above examples, I am not dictating anyone else's behavior. My boundaries are simply a statement of what I will or will not accept. If any boundaries are crossed or trampled on, I look at the situation as objectively as possible and make a choice about what to do about it (such as forgive, tweak the boundary, make exceptions, break up, etc.), but I am the one who is taking action (and I would much rather walk away rather than put up with bullshit), so therefore my happiness depends on me and not the other person living up to a list of rules. Everyone makes mistakes now and then, but in general, I steer clear of getting involved with anyone who isn't a responsible, kind, respectful adult, so generally none of this has to be spelled out to anyone.
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"Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me." ~Bryan Ferry
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Last edited by nycindie; 08-02-2015 at 12:17 AM.
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Old 08-02-2015, 12:22 AM
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PinkPig PinkPig is offline
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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
In all the above examples, I am not dictating anyone else's behavior. I am simply stating what I will or will not accept. If any boundaries are crossed or trampled on, I look at the situation as objectively as possible and make a choice about what to do about it (such as forgive, tweak the boundary, make exceptions, break up, etc.), but I am the one who is taking action (and I would much rather walk away rather than put up with bullshit), so therefore my happiness depends on me and not the other person living up to my expectations
Thank you. This is exactly what I was driving at and why I modified my original post to say that what I considered my boundaries, on paper looked more like rules. I agree with everything you've said. My situation is different in that Blue and I made an agreement to go barrier free with each other (and when we were with Snow, her as well.) In negotiating that, we agreed to use condoms with any other partners and to notify each other of new partners...plus regular sti testing for both of us. The other things I listed were things I liked. ..and you articulated exactly why I was questioning whether they were beneficial. ...I don't want to set up rules or agreements just to avoid working on my own insecurities! You've given me lots to think about

Just an aside, but when my marriage was ending, I was discussing how I couldn't trust my ex (a major life issue). Her suggestion was to hire a private investigator to determine whether he was indeed still doing the things he said he'd stopped. That was the point I knew our marriage was over. Once trust and communication have broken to the point that you need a private investigator, the relationship is over. I filed the following week (& changed therapists! )
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