A comment from yesterday’s post by another Erica:
I do worry about having trust issues in the future… because you can’t prevent them from ever interacting with someone of the opposite sex. But I definitely will have a discussion about boundaries and make sure we’re on the same page. And I won’t be made to feel crazy/mean again. If I have a problem like that and he won’t alter his relationship and understand where I’m coming from then I’m outta there. I don’t need to become paranoid jealous or go through this shit again.
Question: what do you do if you know another woman/man is crossing boundaries and your SO isn’t responding (yet)? Like would you actually ask your SO to make a significant change (like change jobs or something) just to get out of that persons presence?
The problem isn’t with the situation — the work environment, the inappropriate co-worker who flings themselves at your SO — the issue is your SO’s boundaries, or lack thereof. What signals they’re sending out. Are they receptive to the attention? Seek it out? Or are they solidly oblivious? Indifferent? Amused but unmoved?
If you pick the right person, IMO, this is a non-issue in future relationships. Just like you wouldn’t want to be the marriage police in reconciliation with a cheater, you don’t want to have to be the boundary police in your future relationships. While, of course, there are no guarantees in life — I cannot tell you with absolutely certainty that a future SO won’t cross that line — I can tell you it’s not an inevitability either (as in, isn’t responding… “yet”) A person of good character isn’t going to go there.
We all like ego kibbles. Problems arise when you’d sell your soul (or your spouse) to get them. After you’ve been with a narcissist, you have to readjust to normal people, who don’t have gaping chasms of neediness. Who don’t require endless admiration and ego bolstering. Heck, there are folks (I hear Minnesota is full of them) who squirm at flattery (what do you want from me?) and rebuff compliments. Although you don’t want to tip over the edge towards Amish (i.e., buttons are “prideful”), some reticence and suspicion of the sparkly is a good thing.
Some tips on finding someone you can trust? Err on the side of the clueless. When I was dating my husband, a female client he had won a settlement for, used the money to take a cruise with her girlfriends — and then sent him a framed picture of them all — in bikinis — holding a banner that said “Thank you.” A bold, attention-getting stratagem for sure. And hey, he was a cute, single lawyer then, who can blame her? But he had to ask his friend — a Franciscan — if this woman was flirting with him. When the friend said “DUH” and “yes” — he threw the picture out. And that was the end of it.
If my husband had been a jerk, he could’ve played this in a lot of shitty ways. a) Cake eating. Chatted up Miss Bikini, see where it goes while dating me. b) Passive aggressive. Kept the picture and not mentioned it to me, until one day I stumbled upon the thing in his office and go “who the hell is THAT?” c) Goaded me into the “pick me” dance. He could’ve mentioned the incident, talked on about it, how attractive the bikini was, and oh, gosh, it’s such a problem having all these adoring clients. Tried to get me to dissolve into a puddle of insecurity, and work harder to “win” him.
But he’s a good guy. He didn’t do any of that. If you’re dating someone who plays any of those games? Dump them. People who feed on ego kibbles couldn’t resist any of those mindfucks. They’re so deliciously manipulative, and often amp up the kibble manufacturing. A solid person doesn’t need any of that nonsense. So, date for character, always.
Also, I would say, I think it helps to be a chump. I’m a chump, my husband is a chump — and so we get what it’s like to be disrespected. Before this devolves into a discussion that chumps can be jerks too, IMO infidelity leaves you wiser about boundaries. I know before I was cheated on, I was okay with things that I would never be okay with now — friendships with ex-boyfriends, drinks alone with a male co-worker, etc. While I didn’t cheat, I didn’t have the firmest boundaries either, in that youthful desire to be “cool” with everything. I also know what the red flags are about someone I’m dating, whereas again, before infidelity, I was either naive and clueless, or I swallowed my feelings of discomfort because I didn’t want to come off as insecure.
Secure people have boundaries. They know who they are and what their values are. When you have boundaries and know who you are, you’ll be better at spotting folks who are similar to you, and rejecting yahoos who aren’t worthy of your time and attention.
In short, aE, relax. Don’t borrow trouble. Good people exist. If they aren’t good, that will become apparent, and you’ll know what to do. You’ll dump them and move forward.