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can we talk about boundaries for a moment?

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ThisHell posted 2/25/2014 16:04 PM

So a little backstory on MY experiences with infidelity... My dad cheated when I was in high school. Things were very rough... I heard my mom crying at three am in the bathroom trying to track him down at whatever bar he was at, etc...I actually accidentally found out by seeing a journal entry of hers in a notebook when I grabbed it to take a phone message down..along with the fact that he was an alcoholic and coke user. He bent over backwards to get help, counseling, moved states, everything possible to fix his marriage and for that, I love him. We are good now... but I'm still skewed by those times.
My marriage: EX would go out with friends and/or alone to bars to "unwind" and began doing this going to bars thing a lot more often. At one point, my 9 year old wanted to cuddle with me in my bed and when I told him he couldn't sleep in here with me because Dad was coming to bed soon, his response was "oh, I figured he'd be going out"... he remained in bachelor mode and never quite made it to family man mode unless it was something of interest to him (boating, biking)... So now:

I am struggling with this particular boundary: I know people will cheat if they want. I get that. But I also feel like no good comes from a person in an exclusive relationship just going and hanging out at the bar alone. Its my experiences that make me feel that way. It never ended well! And I feel like, I respect my partner enough that if I am stopping off somewhere to eat dinner alone for whatever reason, that I will get a table. I don't go to the bar. I feel like I don't ever want to risk it. That I'd rather be alone with my tablet at a table, than give anyone the impression that I am available to small talk, whatever... but is that fair of me to expect of SO? He rarely goes to bars unless we go together, and I do trust him... but lets face it, I trusted my husband until he gave me reason to not, so....
SO understands my position, and for the most part obliges, but I know he feels weird going to grab food at some pub and sitting alone at a table when its more normal for him to sit at the bar and chat with the bartender or watch a game.
I told myself that I would not carry these issues onto my next partner, but I also told myself that I was going to insist on this boundary... but most restaurants have bars now. So I am on the fence here. Part of me feels like I shouldn't be so difficult, but then the other part feels like I am once again giving in on a point that makes me uncomfortable, even if it wasn't him that made me that way necessarily. What do you think? Am I being ridiculous? What constitutes a bar nowadays anyway?lol. I want to be fair, but not compromise myself either...

[This message edited by ThisHell at 4:20 PM, February 25th (Tuesday)]

I.will.survive posted 2/25/2014 17:24 PM

Oh yikes. I would be feeling the same emotions as you.

That sucks if your SO is 100% innocent and just enjoys sitting at the bar vs table when he's alone. I totally get that. And it also sucks he has to deal with your insecurities because of your past.

BUT, that's part of being in a relationship isn't it? We try hard to make our partner feel secure and loved. At least we are supposed to be doing that.

My XWH started his affair with the scenario you are presenting. She was a bartender where he started hanging out. She got fired, he started working there as a bar food cook "for extra money" (that I never saw of course) and she kept coming in as a customer. I used to put my son to bed and he would ask "is Daddy home?" Nope. He's not. A kid shouldn't be asking that every night at 8pm.

So my point is that I see where your fear is coming from. The opportunity is there. I hope your SO is a stand up guy and keeps his blinders on.

Crescita posted 2/25/2014 17:34 PM

Is he going to the bar for dinner, and leaving when he is finished, or is he out for hours drinking by himself?

The later would make me question suitability, the former I could understand if it wasn't disruptively frequent.

ThisHell posted 2/25/2014 21:47 PM

No, SO isn't out often and I do trust him. I guess I just have that fear, ya know? EX didn't start out going often either... but I guess I just felt like saying I was cool with it now would be like saying I was cool with it every time... when in reality, I'm uneasy about it. In his defense, he's not going to strip clubs or "real" bars, it's like the hickory tavern or the Friday's bar...I guess I just need to find a balance I can live with...

phmh posted 2/25/2014 21:56 PM

Has he given you any reason for you not to trust him? (It sounds like no.)

Bringing old baggage into a new relationship isn't fair to a new guy and, if he's healthy himself, there's a good chance he'll run if you make him pay for your ex's sins.

As you said, there's no way to guarantee a new partner won't cheat -- the best way is by trusting your gut so that you don't cry wolf over truly innocent behavior, nor do you excuse that which makes your gut scream.

ArkLaMiss posted 2/25/2014 22:03 PM

If he loves you, he will understand AND he will respect and adhere to your boundary. Look, it bothers you. He should do everything in his power to make you feel safe, ESPECIALLY knowing your past and what happened.

phmh posted 2/25/2014 22:20 PM

ESPECIALLY knowing your past and what happened

In my mind, this (expecting kid-glove treatment) is a huge red flag as someone who is not ready to date and needs to work more on themselves, becoming a whole, healthy single person. (I am not saying this of the OP, but of this mindset, which I've seen here before.)

He has done nothing to warrant any suspicions, and no one wants to play relationship police their entire life. Or be policed. And if you do, you run the risk of missing out on real red flags, should they happen, or of turning the situation into a self-fulfilling prophesy ("she keeps acting as though I'm cheating, so I might as well cheat.")

My opinion is probably in the minority, but if I were dating a guy who tried to control my (perfectly reasonable) behavior like this, I'd break things off because I don't want to live under a microscope to pay for some other lady's crimes.

ArkLaMiss posted 2/25/2014 22:30 PM

I'm sorry, PH, but going to bars alone seems to be inviting trouble. I think that I would have a very big problem if someone constantly had to have "dinner" or "alone" time at a BAR! Especially without me!

Amazonia posted 2/26/2014 03:15 AM

someone constantly had to have "dinner" or "alone" time at a BAR!

Sure, that^ isn't okay. But that^ isn't remotely what ThisHell's SO is doing.

He is, in her words, occasionally going to grab food while watching a game. He's not going to get alone time, he's not doing it frequently, he's not excluding her.

ThisHell, I think you're projecting a lot of baggage onto this poor guy. It's not fair to make him pay for your ex's issues. Were I in your shoes, I would have a conversation about why he prefers to eat at the bar (is it to have someone to talk to? to watch the game? because he gets faster service? because the prices are better?) and what you're okay with and not - talking to single women, not okay. Getting free drinks from a female bartender, not okay. Getting trashed, not okay. Having a burger and one happy hour beer, no problem. Or whatever your boundaries are. Just be sure that you're creating them based on reasonable standards, not on your ex.

Understanding the "why" behind your boundaries will help both of you - "I'm not okay with you eating at a bar" is a lot different than "I'm not okay with you eating at a bar with random women who you just met" or "I'm not okay with you choosing to eat at a bar alone on a night when we could easily go out or make dinner at home together."

ThisHell posted 2/26/2014 06:49 AM

Thank you all,

I get what you're saying about not projecting... and I don't want to do that. I generally don't do that honestly... I think its the inviting trouble thing that gets me and I can be a pretty black and white type person in general, so I live that way for myself-meaning, If I have to be in that situation, I don't put myself in a position of it possibly happening. So on one hand, I feel like if I wouldn't give my partner any doubts, why should he give me any? Does that make sense? But, no I totally do trust him. And he totally does GET me, he's dealt with infidelity in his last long term relationship and agrees with my view..he just says he feels odd sitting at a table by himself. Like people are making fun of the poor sap sitting all alone, lol. And mostly we go out together. Occasionally, when I am planning just a mommy/kid night, and he doesn't feel like cooking at home (as he generally joins us for dinner), he will go sit at a sushi bar or whatever instead. I have no issue with him having a guys night or meeting a few people out from work for a drink after kind of thing... I think it's just the going alone thing that makes it feel "unhealthy" for some reason in the back of my mind.
I have done a lot of healing personally. I really have, and this relationship is great. He doesn't feel like I am controlling or whatnot, but one thing I have struggled with in the past is feeling NOT ok with situations and keeping my mouth shut about it in fear of being the bitch or having people upset with me/thinking I'm a stick in the mud kind of thing. Part of my personal healing has been not letting EX continue to take advantage in the coparenting aspect, and to NOT hold in when I am not ok.... this subject is one I just haven't really confirmed what I am or am not really ok with I think.

cayc posted 2/26/2014 06:53 AM

All I know for sure is that if I used the metric of not having triggers and not projecting them on to my SO as the standard for whether or not I was ready to date/have a new relationship then I'd be single for the rest of my life. I am so scarred (as you all know) that I have to find another way to deal else I become a cat lady.

From that perspective, I think it's perfectly ok to say "when you do x, it frightens me because .." and request that X stop. If your SO can't stop X, then maybe he's not the SO for you because being with him creates an unsafe environment for you.

To date, the guy I'm dating (and we've rollercoastered for sure) has reacted really well when I'm honest about how I feel, and honest without being mean, defensive or challenging.

Caveat: My honesty is about how I feel, not that it's related to xWH, I leave xWH out of it. So for example, SO doesn't call or text all day as per usual. My heart races because with xWH that meant SOMETHING. But what I say to SO is that it's upsetting to me because it makes me feel disregarded, lonely or whatever feeling it prompts beyond the trigger feeling of "he's cheating, that fucker".

EvenKeel posted 2/26/2014 07:39 AM

I can relate a lot to the flavor of your post.

Just this week I was pondering whether to talk to the guy I am seeing about something that makes me trigger. Like you - half of me was thinking I do not want him to do time for EX's crime. The other half of me thought of SI and how it was important to express what was going on within me. So I bit the bullet and told him.

It went very well. He understood the trigger, he understood it wasn't him but stemming from what EX did to me. He was really glad I felt open enough to tell him.

He came back with something like - " don't get to our ages without baggage. I feel we have a very good connection as well as communication so we can work through this. For baggage we will grab each other's hand and face it together...."

My goal is to no longer internalize stuff like this and pretend "everything is ok".

At least if you speak with him about it; you can get a feel for how he deals with you on it and give him the chance to help you through it.

[This message edited by EvenKeel at 7:40 AM, February 26th (Wednesday)]

Newlease posted 2/26/2014 09:17 AM

I totally understand him not wanting to sit at a table by himself. When I was newly single that was the one thing that I struggled with doing alone. I can go to movies and other venues by myself and feel fine, but to me there is something sad about sitting at a table in a restaurant alone. I always sit at the bar and I don't really socialize, it just seems easier to sit at the bar alone with other strangers than to sit at a table advertising - I AM EATING ALONE!

I see a big distinction between going to a bar and sitting at the restaurant bar while eating. Two totally different things in my opinion. If I go to a bar - it's to drink and maybe get something to eat. If I go to a restaurant, I am getting a meal and might have a drink with my meal or might just sit at the bar and have a diet soda.

I have some boundary issues that I have discussed with SO. But I never forbid him to do anything, nor does he forbid me. We just talk about it and brainstorm ways to make us both feel better about the situation. If one of us gives up an activity, it is because we WANT to - not because the other made us do it.

Bottom line - my XWH never displayed any outward signs of sliding down the slippery slope. It all happened during work hours. And I survived it. I can't keep anyone from hurting me, but I know how I would handle it if it happened again. And I know I would survive it.

Sending strength and peace.


Crescita posted 2/26/2014 10:00 AM

Donít think that you have to lay all your boundaries out at once. Sometimes itís better to express them in the moment. At this point your issues seem more triggery in nature than an actual issue with your SO. If you tell him today that you arenít comfortable with things he isnít yet doing, well there isnít much he can do. If you put it aside as a trigger, not saying you canít discuss it, but as a trigger, not a boundary, when you have an issue down the line, say he does this on nights he should be with you, or is out till closing, then your concern will be taken more seriously because he will value your trust and know that you are generally willing to put triggers aside so this is actually an issue and not just a projection.

Sometimes it's a bit "boy who cried wolf" when navigating triggers and boundaries. If everything is serious, nothing can be serious.

wonderingbull posted 2/26/2014 10:12 AM

If a SO told me they were uncomfortable about me going to a restaurant and sitting at the bar alone while I ate, had a drink or two I'd tell them tough and probably make them my exSO...

It would tell me that they're way too insecure for me... I'm not the reason for their insecurity and I'm not going to be punished for it...

That's just me at the ripe old age of 53...


ThisHell posted 2/26/2014 12:38 PM

wonderingbull: I don't know how to quote, but no, I don't think I am insecure. I know my worth. I know that I am a good mother, attractive and capable of both taking care of myself and also not NEEDING a man. So if anyone in my future decided to cheat, I know I would be perfectly capable of dealing with that just like I did with my Ex... I am not insecure. BUT I am not perfect.... and I struggle just like everyone else. Having the 2 most important men in my life who I respected and thought had strong morals and values BOTH cheat absolutely DOES make me take stock and look at my life and start to connect some dots. And for my life, one thing that really resonated in both scenarios was the bar scene being the place that these affairs fostered. I don't WANT to be controlling and if you asked SO, he would tell you I am not. But that because of that bar connection, this is a point that is sticky to me. My partner is wonderful and doesn't abuse it, but it does make me have a moment of "take a deep breath, don't trigger" go on in my head on the occasions he does tell me he is doing that. And the real issue here for me that I DON"T say anything about it most times. It doesn't happen often, and I am aware that it is not his issue to work through. I am not asking him to, nor am I telling him he can't do something. But I don't think its wrong to say, hey listen, a common denominator here for me and the cheating crap has been the bar scene.... and if my partner respects me and cares about me, wouldn't just say, hell no see ya later. He would say, ok, lets figure out what works for both of us within this scenario.
I have never told him he cannot go and would never. But sharing my fears and past experiences brings about good conversation in my opinion in learning about what each others boundaries are and where they stand.

My main concern was in NOT wanting to reflect my fears onto him and part of working through this internally was that I really don't know HOW I feel yet... hence my post. I certainly would never ask of him what I am not willing to give as well. And that was what I was trying to reconcile internally.

For goodness sakes, who the heck DOESN'T have any insecurities!? Especially after giving trust and having it stomped on? I'm sorry, but your remarks seemed a little overly cold and unnecessarily strong, as though I am some sort of broken crazy mess that SO should just run from.

wonderingbull posted 2/26/2014 13:25 PM

I understand about triggers and scenarios that set up the ex's A...

To me it wasn't that the OM was a fireman or our yard guy that pulled her into her A... If I thought so I wouldn't trust firemen or ever have a yard guy...

It had everything to do with the ex... She was the one that gave herself permission to cheat...

If your SO gave himself permission to cheat he could do it with someone at work or any other random woman he wanted to anywhere in his world...

It isn't the place, the time or situation that causes an A... It's the person that decides to take that leap...

Bottom line... I think that you've got to decide whether his boundaries are compatible with yours... Not that he has the exact same boundaries as yours... He certainly doesn't have the same triggers...

Try and control or change your SO's lifestyle is futile.. He's not your ex or your family growing up...

I simply know that if someone didn't trust me enough to eat at a bar/restaurant by myself then she'd soon be an ex...


ThisHell posted 2/26/2014 13:39 PM

And you are right...

What I'm saying is that I know this trigger is mine to bear. And like I said, I don't tell him what he can do or cannot do. I would not do that. But I don't think its wrong or unhealthy to share a part of myself with my partner by saying, this particular scenario is one I'm still figuring out how comfortable I really am with and where I stand...

And that's what I'm trying to work through. I agree that if someone wants to cheat, they will. From my gut, and what he tells me, lol, I feel that he is quite happy in our relationship and does share my similar boundaries and views. He wasn't taken aback or insulted. He agreed, going and hanging at a bar till all hours of the night alone and behaving like a single guy is unacceptable. I'm just trying to find that line where I go from an acceptable situation to one that crosses the line... its not a Trusting him thing, its an understanding where my boundary is in that particular regard.

heartbroken_kk posted 2/26/2014 14:43 PM


Maybe it would be good to review the link below. I think your subject line "Can we talk about boundaries for a moment?" hasn't really been addressed.

When you talk about boundaries you need to make sure you actually talk about the person's behavior, your feelings, and what boundary you have decided you need to state that discloses what you want - what you will and will not allow in your life. Basically, what is tolerable to you and what isn't, and what you will do if someone does something that you can't tolerate. What is the boundary? What is the consequence?

If he goes to a bar to eat, and it triggers anxious feelings for you, and you want to not have those feelings triggered, what do you want instead of what is happening? If this continues, what will you do?

I'm finding as I get healthier inside myself I am more able to tolerate behavior that once triggered some pretty serious emotions. I am not so reactive, which allows me to be less vigilant and less focused on others' behavior. Knowing I'm OK alone helps a lot. I know I can decide I don't want to tolerate a behavior and I can tell that person either stop or I wont be giving you such an important or intimate role in my life.

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