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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
  • 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.​
Maintaining appropriate boundaries can mean the difference between a healthy relationship and a destructive one. 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.
 

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[/B]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?


  • I think these are key questions and ones everyone should ask them self when developing a friendship on line. I think the best is, what would your spouse think. And because many of us in this forum and others like it are in troubled relationships that makes us all the more susceptible to developing feelings that we shouldn’t. While texting, emails and IM all provide an efficient way to communicate and share it does not give you the full picture of the person at the other end. Phone conversations will give you some further understanding of who that person really is but unless you deal with them in person on a regular basis what do you really know about them? I think in many cases people involved in an emotional affair on line fill in the blanks with what they hope the other person is like. In many cases what they perceive is partially a fantasy of who that person really is. As such, it is hard for your spouse to “compete” with this fantasy and problems seem exacerbated for the spouse engaged in the EA. The fantasy seems to be so much better than the person they are married to. And in most cases the “fantasy” person is not going to lay out all the dirty laundry. In our case my wife knew I wouldn’t approve but she didn’t want the relationship to end. She engaged in it and let it go too far because she felt it was “safe” because he was so far away. The longer it went on, the more it pulled her from me and it magnified what she perceived as my faults. (Not that I don’t have them) An online relationship is more than an innocent distraction. It can do real harm to a marriage and all parties involved.
 

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I often post just a few feet away from my wife, unless I am at work. She often asks me to read the posts and I also read how I respond to them. It is nice to have second opinions on what is going on, but also to know that I will not do anything that I might feel my wife could or would object to.

draconis
 

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I think it's the delusion that the online person can not see us and will listen to us without judging us.It's human to get drawn to someone especially when you are in trouble emotionally. But you are both right, one needs to be careful.Nice forum :)
 

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I totally agree it's an easy out when your relationship is suffering, my hubby is in the midst of this right now please see my post any advice on what I can do to get him to be happy visiting with me rather than his new online friend
 

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Hi everyone....I'm new here, but I've been an active member on a couple of marriage forums. I really agree with Chris about the importance of boundaries, and I've seen what can happen to online communities when they aren't well defended. Over the years, I've seen both healthy and unhealthy relationships develop between posters. You would think that on sites designed to support marriages, that affair relationships would be less likely to occur....but the truth is that we're human, and during crisis periods in our marriages....we are often the most needy. That can often lead down the "slippery slope" (ala the late Shirley Glass) where we allow our boundaries to soften and slip. I think it's really important to remember how emotionally vulnerable we are when we're disconnected from our spouses and put reasonable safeguards in place to protect ourselves and our marriages.

Some of the forums I've been to have disabled PMs for that reason....just to discourage weakened boundaries. There is an element of "accountability" when we speak publicly that is absent in PMs or private emails. I encourage everyone to be very cautious about off board communication with the opposite sex. Be open with your spouse about your online relationships. Transparent honesty is one of the best ways to protect your marriage. If everything you write, say or do, could be viewed comfortably by your spouse.....you have good marital boundaries in place. Your friends, especially opposite sex friends, should also be friends of your marriage. If you have problems in your marriage, the safest sounding boards are your same sex friends.

Secrecy is a big red flag.....if you find yourself keeping secrets from your spouse because an outside relationship would worry, anger or confuse your spouse....that's a big sign that you aren't defending good marital boundaries.
 

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Secrecy is a big red flag.....if you find yourself keeping secrets from your spouse because an outside relationship would worry, anger or confuse your spouse....that's a big sign that you aren't defending good marital boundaries.
:iagree:

Glad to have you here, waterfall~!
 

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chris,

Thanks for the welcome. This is a nice community.:smthumbup:

Boundaries is one of my favorite topics, and I really believe that many people innocently disregard their importance in support forums. I try to post as though my spouse could/might read it. That kind of transparency protects my marriage....and me.
 

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I'm new here but would like to add this little snippet if I may..

I don't do anything that I wouldn't want my wife to do in a similar situation.

This has kept me out of some very hot and tempting water :)

Just celebrated our 7yr. anniversary this weekend as well..
been a long road.. and currently we're on the road to recovery but figured I'd share my personal rule on boundaries.

mike
 

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I agree boundaries are very important in all areas of our lives. I am a very open person and open minded person. I am also a person who wants to help everyone, and will accept help from everyone. Although I will respect another person's wishes if they don't want to discuss further or open up more about a situation, boundaries are almost like "respect" in some ways.

That's my two cents ;-)
 

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boundaries are one of the most important aspects in a relationship. one of the hardest things in my relationship is that i've always been a very flirtatious person, even when not meaning to be. My husband has always known this (and usually thinks its funny tbh) and I dont' even realize half the time what I'm doing is even flirting. i get along with guys better in general (i'm fairly jealous in nature and my H is really attractive so I can't help the assumption that another woman wants him :(). online friendships has been easier because my H gets jealous as well, even if I don't care about the person, if he thinks they care about me at all, he gets upset. I think when it comes to online friendships people should be very clear on how they feel. if it is indeed a FRIENDSHIP, then anything uncomfortable should be made known and should be understood. if it doesn't change, then the ignore button is convenient :) everyone has their own boundaries and we can't make the assumption that others have the same ones. communication is key, in all relationships.
 

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i know my boundaries, because i set them, when i decided i was going to be in a relationship i ended all ties and hoped he would also, i ended up finding loose ties all over the place now his old friend from high school wants to she wants someone to notice that her relationship sucks and wants someone to come in and change things meaning my bf. They would chat online with him about their relationships. i do not want someone who doesn’t know me personally knowing how much we argue and what about, i just don’t feel comfortable, it makes me feel like to know how much information they tell each other but when i go and ask he gets upset with me and then there is an argument, i feel that he should be able to talk to me about anything so whats the problem?
i like that you posted this because now i can show him and see how he feels about what was said.
 

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unfortunately not everyone here is in a HEALTHY relationship,
thus boundries wouldnt be quite the same in online/blog
situations vs real life/in person dramas.

i may tell u my wife is BPD, BiPol, etc, here but def not in
person. annonmity i guess is what attracts here in
1st place as well as speaking our minds/hearts w/ what
troubles us.
 

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people don't come here to build romantic relationships. They come here to seek out answers and to look for help in their time of crisis. Unfortunately, due to the nature of this site, most of the people here are in their most vulnerable state. Emotions run high, and someone who understands, or who offers kind words of understanding can quickly be mistaken for more than that.

This is exactly how many of the crisis talked about here materialized in the first place. Unhappiness in a marriage discussed with a co-worker, or a friend of a friend or an acquaintance, which turned into a personal friendship which eventually began crossing the lines of appropriate behavior.

It is a good rule of thumb that if you find yourself experiencing even the slightest feelings for another board mate, or you have found yourself wondering "What if..." or thinking about or fantasizing about that person when away from the computer, then your relationship is headed into a direction that could well complicate your life even more than it was when you came here.

Set mental warning flags so that you can recognize the signs before they get out of hand. Warning flags might include:

Communicating off-board (eg. Via instant messenger, ICQ, etc.)
Friending each other on social networking sites
Exchanging personal e-mail addresses
Exchanging telephone numbers
Sharing identifying information (Full name, address, etc.)
Agreeing to meet up in person

Keep in mind that as long as you keep it all here on the site, you can always turn it off and walk away if things go out of control, but once you let someone too far into your personal life, it is not so easy. Of course, some people are still able to keep relationships "on the level" while sharing some of the above information, but keep in mind that "One thing leads to another", and before you know it, you could be involved in a situation that you don't know how to get out of.
 

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face book is the devil..

I joke, I joke but on a serious note the one thing that has not been mentioned is that messages boards themselves can become a problem. I recently joined one and noticed that many of the member's had as many as 40,000 posts.Now how much time do you have to spend on line to amass 40,000
posts..and how much time are you really giving your partner and family, if all your time is spend on a message board ? Face book is another problem for some reason people lose sight of the fact that this is not a private place. the information shared is often just inappropriate. Another factor with face book is the ability to reconnect with people from the past that quite frankly should be left there.
 

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I appreciate the information and insight here on online relationships. As a newcomer, it makes it feel more safe.
I've come here primarily for support to discuss things which I cannot with my husband, but not too much detail that I think he wouldn't want. I've never become attached to people online and have never seen that as a problem, for myself.
I once knew a married woman who had an emotional affair online, and so I know that it happens.
Anyway, I appreciate this, it says a lot about the site, that it's responsible and focused on staying healthy and support.
 

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I don't generally worry about what my husband thinks, since I'm not interested in starting too many relationships. I actually post to different sites; on one I'd ended up getting an e-mail from a married man. He sent me a message about an individual I'd mentioned in a post and I sent back one with thank yous for previous helps, etc. Got another back and sent another, then one more came. Didn't open it for days...I get more anxious about somebody else starting something then I have to extricate. Finally read it today; fairly sedate statement and I left it at that. I have too many in-laws with severe boundary issues in real life to want to get over-involved at the moment on-line.
 

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Well, I'd like to trouble the water a bit. I joined the forum because I need to talk about some things (sex) that I can't talk about with my husband. Some of this needs to be a bit detailed so that I can solve some problems.

If I asked myself how he would feel about it - I think he would be horrified. First of all, he is a private person and not the sort who would yak on line. Knowing this makes me quite uncomfortable. However, I don't feel like I've got a lot of options. We went to see a counselor and it was a disaster. I think we were too nice and the counselor couldn't find much wrong with us. Anyways, neither he nor I are interested in trying that again soon. However, the problems remain. I find the forum here very helpful - in the sea of pornography out there, this is actually a conversation about emotions, love, relationship and sex, all together. But I am worried about privacy, and I am transgressing a boundary. I hope it is for a good cause.
 

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It happened to me, but I met him on another website, not this one. Now, we are 2 years into a long distance emotional affair (he's not married, I am), and we're wondering how or why we let it get this far. I was very needy with all the problems in my marriage, and I think I pushed him into the closeness we share. I think I just needed to feel something again. It's exhilarating, yet painful because we can't be together.
 
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