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Boundaries help

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randomusername posted 4/14/2013 17:43 PM

Right, so I crossed a boundary last week and only just realised that I had when my wife pointed it out to me earlier today. She's annoyed, and I'm slightly mystified as to why I didn't realise that I'd crossed a boundary.

This is what happened. I'm vaguely looking around for a new job at the moment, and was at a work event one evening last week. I was expecting to see an ex-boss of mine who I was hoping might be able to point me towards some opportunities. This ex-boss is a woman, which is what the whole problem is. Anyway, I found at at the event that she had broken her leg and so wouldn't be there.

So the next day I texted my old boss to wish her a speedy recovery. She texted back and we agreed to catch up sometime when she was back in action. There was no sub-text to this - it was purely a work-thing in my mind, and my wife had previously suggested that I meet up with this old boss to see whether she had any jobs going.

The thing is, this had stepped over a boundary I had agreed with my wife as part of reconciliation - that I wouldn't contact any women without telling her.

The problem I'm struggling with, is that I simply hadn't realised that I'd done it. This is because (a) I'd been thinking about this as a work thing, not a social thing (but obviously wishing her a speedy recovery brought a social aspect into it), and (b) I don't find her remotely attractive and never have (but obviously that's not really the point).

I then compounded all this by not telling my wife about the texts. She found them when checking my phone earlier today. The reason I hadn't was simply because I had been offered a different job that day and was excited and wanted to talk to her about that. And then I forgot. But also, and probably most importantly, I didn't think it important.

But all this is rather missing the point. Which is that I texted a woman and didn't tell my wife. Which crossed a boundary and broke a trust. And I did it without thinking that there was any problem.

I know the top-level "why" (which is that I had thought of it as a work thing). But this is quite hard because I met the other woman through work, and blurred boundaries in that.

Any thoughts / help?

authenticnow posted 4/14/2013 18:47 PM

The thing is...after years of behaving a certain way and having poor boundaries, you now have to make it your new habit to do things completely differently. I understand that. I've been there.

This is hard to read:

The thing is, this had stepped over a boundary I had agreed with my wife as part of reconciliation - that I wouldn't contact any women without telling her.


I simply hadn't realised that I'd done it.

Because it is such a clear cut boundary. There is nothing vague about it, and you did it anyway. You have to work on getting out of autopilot, aka your old ways, and refocus completely. You have to change your mindset, keep your BW and your M at the forefront of your mind at all times.

This was a big one, randomusername. Huge.

I don't really know what to suggest. I feel like if R is a priority, or you think really hard about losing your wife, you will realize how important it is to live within these healthy boundaries.

[This message edited by authenticnow at 6:47 PM, April 14th (Sunday)]

knightsbff posted 4/14/2013 19:00 PM

I think you've nailed the bottom line. It's a boundary you agreed on and you broke it. You're owning that. It seems it slipped past you due to the context and probably old habits.

Offer a sincere apology and a plan to be much more mindful when communicating with women for any reason. Practice makes perfect.

randomusername posted 4/15/2013 00:46 AM

..oh and there was also an email. To a different ex-colleague that I didn't copy my wife in on. Again, it was in a work context, and again it wasn't with a thought of leading anywhere. But again it was crossing a boundary.

Thanks for the comments so far. Of course I have apologised. And I need to think a bit more about all this.

tired girl posted 4/15/2013 01:51 AM

What kink of work have you done to become aware of your boundaries and what they should be?

randomusername posted 4/15/2013 15:59 PM

Thank you all.

I think you are right that I was on autopilot - I was in work mode, and just didn't think that there might be any slippery slope issues.

I need more of a plan here when dealing with women generally in a work context. I already:
- don't meet women alone socially
- copy or blind copy my wife in when emailing women socially
- avoid any situations where I am offering personal advice to women (eg no mentoring)
- don't discuss my marriage or personal issues with women
- don't compliment women, flirt with them or sign off emails etc with any personal endearments.

But I think this teaches me that I need to set my boundaries back even further. I think I now need to conceptualise that in a way that I can write as a rule (because I work better if I have a guiding principle to operate to).

And I'm reading the Emotionally Unavailable Man at the moment, so that might give me some thoughts about boundaries.

authenticnow posted 4/15/2013 16:02 PM

That's a good start.

- copy or blind copy my wife in when emailing women socially

Why would you be emailing women socially?

cinnamongurl posted 4/15/2013 21:30 PM

AN, I had the same question.

OktoberMest posted 4/18/2013 16:03 PM

I too messed up yesterday.
I was so proud of myself until then for staunchly protecting our boundaries.
My BH and I were talking with a group of people as we're away at the moment with a group. Anyway, one of the others started to talk about his wages, which I realised are about 3-4x mine. I joined the conversation in front of my BH about my wages and financial stuff. Nothing too specific but I said too much.
One of our boundaries refers to avoiding conversations regarding financial details. I blathered on until my BH stopped me.

I felt more comfortable in my BHs presence that I stopped really thinking about what I was saying.

I've worked on how interact with other men without my BH present and am vigilant as hell about intimate conversation involving emotions, etc. I have always been open about finances, but I know my BH hates me talking about it to others. In my relaxed state I stopped to think about what was important to him and that I have to protect that as much, if not more, than what I feel is private/intimate. I put me and my view of thing before him, something I haven't done in a long time. So sad and so ashamed. The only thing that was different is how I handled the aftermath. I listened to him and apologised. I think that he has absolutely every right to be disappointed in me. It set us back again.
His biggest fear is that if I behave this saying front of him, then how do I behave in private. I'm so sad because I know I work so hard to change my boundaries and actions, focussing mainly on how I behave when I'm by myself. That doesn't mean i don't think about how I act when he is there too, its just I'm aware that my biggest weakness was intimate /inappropriate conversations one to one. I didn't start these to lead anywhere, I was just oblivious to boundaries that are healthy.
In the way in which I entered into the conversation yesterday I just confirmed my BH's fears he has about me genuinely changing myself for me, not just being more wary on his behalf,
Only thing is he can't see that i am aware, i am changing and i do protect out boundaries for me and us, nt just him. Based on yesterday's idiocy, why should he believe any different.

Changing every habit takes time and practice. I'm human and I messed up. I can change and I am changing. I just hope My BH can still see progress in me....

More work needed...

[This message edited by OktoberMest at 4:13 PM, April 18th (Thursday)]

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