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silverhopes posted 3/18/2013 15:30 PM

What are healthy boundaries to have with friends? What things are and are not appropriate to talk with them about? Struggling today with this idea: what are friends? Not even necessarily best friends, just friends in general. I'm curious to know what too close vs. just right looks like. Another thread mentioned oversharing outside of M with friends as something that can hurt your M, and this is something that's been bothering me for a while, even though I couldn't put it into words. Help?

I can't tell whether this isolated feelings is a new, healthy awareness of boundaries that I am just beginning to have, or if it's genuine incompetence at knowing how being a healthy friend looks like. Or both.

poopylala posted 3/18/2013 16:05 PM

First, you should know that it's great you're working on understanding boundaries. That's a huge move forward!

The way I see it, friends are people you share common interests with and care about their lives and well being. Some say that you just can't have a plain old friendship with those of the opposite sex. I think it's up to the couple to decide if that's appropriate or not.

Before Dday, I had an EA that I didn't fully understand but otherwise I've had friends of both sexes. With guys, we talked about school or cars or sports or hobbies. They were all aware of fwbf. With girls, we talked about working out and clothes and hobbies and fun things we did with our boyfriends.

After Dday, I really focused on my female friends not for any particular reason other than we shared the exact same classes (we planned them that way) and had so many common interests. While a few of them were aware of what happened with my relationship, only one whom I met on here knew the full extent of things.

The problem with telling people details about the M is that it takes away from the privacy and intimacy of the M. It can also create problems between friends and your BS if you demonize BS.

At the end of the day, your M is priority. Friends are great for sharing fun experiences with like sports and drinking a beer with but should never take more of your attention and energy than say a pet would or a work assignment. Does that kind of make sense? You give them your attention but for an appropriate amount of time. I feel like I butchered this.. Sorry!!

silverhopes posted 3/18/2013 17:38 PM

That makes sense. I was struggling with wondering if friends are optional. It feels like my H should be my only true friend if we're both healthy (that's another story). Because the M takes priority. So friends should mostly just be for sharing fun times... In that case, it seems like the friendships center mostly around hobbies. If two friends don't have too many hobbies in common, then does this mean that there will be less friendship? I'm sorry if my questions are weird... Not quite sure how to phrase it. How much do we let our friends into our lives?

In my case, I'm talking about same-gender friends. I had a lot of male friends in the past, but got too worried about slippery slopes and boundaries, and it seemed more respectful of my M if I weren't around them unless H were too and approved. Then the reasoning changed to that it felt like a trespass somehow, especially if they were in relationships. Now I feel uncomfortable around everyone, no matter the gender. So I'm wondering how necessary friends even really are. Maybe it's fear of closeness. If friends are just to do random fun things with (like garden or enjoy food or visit National Parks) but not really try to get too close to, then maybe it's OK. Hmm...

Unagie posted 3/18/2013 18:24 PM

I think friends in life are necessary. Yes SO has been my best friend for forever but my g/f's are like family and I know if things in my life go to shit they will support me. I think true friends hold true with the saying "friends are the family you choose." If I don't care about someone on that level then they are a good acquaintance and that is all. My friends are my extended family and I love them.

silverhopes posted 3/18/2013 22:54 PM

I think true friends hold true with the saying "friends are the family you choose."

This might sound like a silly question... What did it take to build your friendships? Were they friends you knew before you met your SO? How were the boundaries like between your friendships and your M?

I'm sorry if these questions seem silly. I've been recently reconnecting with some friends - two in particular - and told them some of what was happening in my M after a few years of not saying anything. Now I'm regretting it and worrying I should have kept that within M. I stopped talking about it and started giving vague answers again (if they ask how my H is, I say, "He's doing fine") and actually haven't seen either of them for a few weeks (not intentional, we just haven't written or called each other). But in general feel so awkward not knowing what to do with friends or how to be - like afraid to make wrong steps or overstep. I've had different groups of friends - one group broke apart when everyone moved in different directions, another group is still intact but I was kind of shut out of their group a long time ago. Maybe part of what's triggering this is that a couple in that group had a baby shower yesterday, and I wasn't invited - yet they were the first guests who came to my baby shower when we had it. Anyway that's kind of rambly. Almost none of my friends have kids, the ones who do live far away or are out of touch. Hah, I feel so awkward and so obvious with how painfully awkward these social issues are! Since I'm learning boundaries in a way I never have before, hopefully if/when I do make friends we'll have healthy friendships. Just want to know what healthy looks like. Thought it meant someone you can talk to, someone to share highs and lows with - but not sure where the line is there with regard to our Ms. My H is my best friend now. He knows me better than anyone else right now. OK, really done rambling now!

[This message edited by silverhopes at 11:01 PM, March 18th (Monday)]

Unagie posted 3/19/2013 00:23 AM

One was a friend before I met SO and the other I met after SO and I were dating. Our friendships developed slowly. It started as bullshit and shopping and going to the movies. One day I found out rumors were being spread about me and my pre-SO friend stood up for me and defended me. We began to open up to each other. I told her about my mom having cancer, told her about my dad's drinking, and on 9/11 she was next to me knowing both my sisters were in the towers (they are okay). Maybe this is too much detail lol but we grew into what we are.

My post dating SO friend developed slowly as well. We met in school, then we hung out a lot and we clicked. We started telling each other more about our lives and tbh we were close but she wasn't someone I turned to. After DDay I told her what I'd done and she was a rock. She called me every day to make sure I was eating if not she'd come to my house and force me to eat and drink. She supported my therapy and she is the one I am currently living with because when I told her he and I were separating she opened her home to me with no questions.

Both these women are like family to me and I love them both, they are closer to me then my own sisters by blood.

Not sure if that answers your question.

silverhopes posted 3/19/2013 00:48 AM

Thank you Unagie. That does answer my questions. Thank you for telling me your story. That sounds like such a mellow way to open up - not the drama that I have associated with past friendships. And that it takes time. It sounds so safe. Thank you.

poopylala posted 3/19/2013 12:39 PM

Friends are definitely optional but they do make a world of difference!

My best friend gave me a necklace that said, "Friends are sisters we choose for ourselves." That's so true. I had a small handful of friends that I told what was going on after Dday because I needed to verbalize some things to people who knew me and I could trust. They were supportive of everything I felt and checked in on me periodically to see how I was doing.

My 2 best friends I met differently, but both happened after fwbf and I were together. One lived in my dorm and we had many similar personality traits and interests. We ended up being roommates. She and I enjoyed talking about different things in each others' lives and supported each others' goals and endeavors. She told me about the drama in her relationship and when Dday happened, I told her about mine. We supported each other no matter what. My other best friend I met on here actually. She knows just about everything that happened because either I texted her about it or I posted on here. Fwbf was always okay with me talking to her because she and I are very similar with similar situations and she really helped me calm down or think things through before I acted. We essentially bonded over our situations and then realized we had lives outside of SI Now we talk about everything from school and work to friend issues to family problems to goals and dreams.

It really is like a built in family that I've chosen for myself. You go with what your gut says and you find people that matter to you and that you enjoy and can trust.

budbusch posted 3/19/2013 21:10 PM

I have preached the book NOT JUST FRIENDS by Shirley P. Glass. This book was a huge eye opener for me. That is when I had the AH-HA moment. This book describes walls and windows. Easy translation: walls are lies/secrets and windows are open, healthy communication. When you are with friends you should not discuss anything your partner is not comfortable with ie put walls between you and your partner. If you are telling friends all your dirty little secrets, they are not productive to the relationship. What you need to do is tear down all your walls with your partner and put up walls between threats to your M. People who allow or facilitate As. Anyone who knew about your infidelity or any infidelity and did nothing about it is a threat. Any person your spouse does not feel comfortable with is also a threat.

You have to have friends that are helpful to your M. Someone who has the same morals as you. Someone who you know will support the marriage during the bad times.
I talk about all the wonderful things that happen in my life that I am proud of. Events/thoughts/feelings I would say even if my wife was present in the conversation.
This may diminish the number of friends you currently have but it will defiantly help your M and keep your closest friend your H.

I hope this helps and I highly recommend reading the book.
Best of luck,

silverhopes posted 3/19/2013 21:30 PM

We essentially bonded over our situations and then realized we had lives outside of SI. Now we talk about everything from school and work to friend issues to family problems to goals and dreams.

So it sounds like you guys can talk about your deepest struggles as well as share good times. That sounds like a true friendship to me, someone you can feel safe with. How do you know the limits on that or what is too much to share? I remember one of the things some of my friends said to me a long time ago was not to dump my issues on everyone and not always talk about negative things. It seems like it's hard to know when it's a safe time to share, both for yourself and also for your friend...

Easy translation: walls are lies/secrets and windows are open, healthy communication. When you are with friends you should not discuss anything your partner is not comfortable with ie put walls between you and your partner.

Yeah I really liked this concept of hers (I disagreed with other parts of her book but this part I thought was brilliant). But what if it comes to things like hobbies? I would love to talk to my H all about gardening and even bring him with me to grow things. But I know that's not even remotely his interest. If I'm gushing over plants with other friends though, then isn't that some part of my life that I'm sharing with them but not him?

My H's favorite activity is video games. I know Dr. Harley's unpopular, but one of his suggestions I took to heart was being your spouse's favorite recreational companion. H enjoys playing video games with me so much now that even when his one guy friend wants to come over to play, H usually finds some way to slip out of it because he says I'm a better gamer and has more fun with me. He's not really interested in my interests, which is OK, he doesn't really need to be. But I think it would feel really awkward and excluding to be running around with other plant folks instead of my H when plants are/were such a big part of my life. Unless it someday becomes my job again, then I'd just enjoy the plant stuff on the job and no after work hangouts.

Thank you guys for your patience in answering my questions.

[This message edited by silverhopes at 9:31 PM, March 19th (Tuesday)]

budbusch posted 3/21/2013 20:03 PM

If I'm gushing over plants with other friends though, then isn't that some part of my life that I'm sharing with them but not him?

Walls form when you try to hide something. If you are not putting up walls between you and H then it should be fine. Not to say you shouldn’t be making your H feel safe so open communication is key. If you talk to him and he is okay with whom you are friends with – G2G. If you can hold a conversation that you would be comfortable having with your H present; I don’t see anything wrong with that. However if there is anything that happens during your get-togethers that is questionable you need to talk to you H about it.
You should be able to have friends and interact with people. You just need to put your H first and make sure he feels safe.

I hope this helps and everything goes well for you.

silverhopes posted 3/21/2013 20:24 PM

That's a good point. Maybe it's also a matter of getting used to pursuing the hobby again. Since our son was born everything's been wrapped up in taking care of him and our budding family (and all the other stuff we've been working through). If I invite him each time to join in, then maybe that will make it more comfortable because it's clearer that way that it's open to him.

Not to say you shouldn’t be making your H feel safe so open communication is key.

Yes, this is definitely the goal. Thank you budbusch!

silverhopes posted 3/23/2013 00:13 AM

Not really sure where to share this... But since I started this thread about friends, this seems appropriate.

I was out with my BFF earlier today (she's one of the two friends I mentioned with whom I've been reconnecting recently), and I told her about my godmother's touching me. I can't believe I did it. She was so supportive. She understood immediately because of what her mother's been through. She's known my godmother as long as she's known me (since we were 3), so I was afraid she wouldn't believe me - that's why I haven't told many people (SI was the first place I really talked about it), and also because of the shame. I'm overwhelmed. I am so thankful she's my friend.

[This message edited by silverhopes at 12:23 AM, March 23rd (Saturday)]

Unagie posted 3/23/2013 00:59 AM

Silver that's so great. I'm happy your friend supported you.

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