Many of our visitors arrive here because they are in troubled relationships and looking for help. While it's clear from our guidelines
that Talk About Marriage is not a "dating" website, it's human nature to form relationships with others in times of need. After all, that's why we're here - for support.
I'm starting this thread so we can have a discussion on boundaries, what's healthy and what's not. In particular, how we manage our relationships that develop on the forums when we have a significant other. What are "boundaries," some may ask?
To put it simple, I would say that boundaries are how close you allow other people to get to you, either physically or emotionally. Here are some other good boundary explanations I found on Coping.org
Maintaining appropriate boundaries can mean the difference between a healthy relationship and a destructive one.
Emotional and physical space between you and another person.
Demarcation of where you end and another begins and where you begin and another ends.
Limit or line over which you will not allow anyone to cross because of the negative impact of its being crossed in the past.
Established set of limits over your physical and emotional well-being which you expect others to respect in their relationship with you.
Emotional and physical space you need in order to be the real you without the pressure from others to be something that you are not.
Emotional and/or physical perimeter of your life which is or has been violated when you were emotionally, verbally, physically, and/or sexually abused.
Healthy emotional and physical distance you can maintain between you and another so that you do not become overly enmeshed and/or dependent.
Appropriate amount of emotional and physical closeness you need to maintain so that you and another do not become too detached and/or overly independent.
Balanced emotional and physical limits set on interacting with another so that you can achieve an interdependent relationship of independent beings who do not lose their personal identity, uniqueness, and autonomy in the process.
Clearly defined limits within which you are free to be yourself with no restrictions placed on you by others as to how to think, feel, or act.
Set of parameters which make you a unique, autonomous and free individual who has the freedom to be a creative, original, idiosyncratic problem solver.
Here are some good questions to ask ourselves:
- When we begin to build online relationships, how much information is it "ok" to disclose with another person?
- What would our spouse or significant other think about the amount of information we are disclosing?
- What would the implications be if they were to find out?
- Are my feelings about this online relationship becoming stronger than other "friendships?"
- Is this relationship more likely to help, or do harm to my marriage?
Not all people will respect our boundaries. When we say "no," or "I'm not comfortable with this," do they respect that communication, or do they continue to push our boundaries? If they continue to overstep boundaries we set, perhaps we should discontinue communication with that individual?
Did you know the forums have an "ignore" feature? It can be accessed by going to "User CP" > "Buddy / Ignore Lists." Once you add a username to your ignore list you will no longer see that person's posts or receive messages from that person.
Everyone's situation is different, so I can't assume that what works best for me will work well for everyone else. For me, I let my wife know what's going on in my friendships online, just as I do those in the rest of my life. We talk about the different websites we visit and why we go there, and the rule of thumb I use about communication boundaries is that I don't write anything I wouldn't be comfortable with her or others seeing.
Am I perfect? Far from it. There were times in my life that I know I had very poor boundaries. It made for some difficult relationships and painful experiences in my younger days. Thankfully, my boundary setting has been much better in the past 8 or so years, and it's made all of the difference in the world.
I'd like to hear from others about boundaries in online relationships and some ways you handle them.