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  1. #1
    Leeny's Avatar
    Leeny is offline ADMINISTRATOR
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    Default Personal Boundaries.. How are they different for men and women?

    Bit of a strange question for everyone that I'd love to hear varied opinions on ... I have a male friend who I'm particularly close, we have quite an unconventional friendship which started when his wife who is one of my best friends suffered (and is still suffering from) PND and paranoia. I think I was a crutch for him who made him see reason when he contemplated leaving his wife during tough times, and he too has been a massive crutch for me in the last 6-9 months.

    Before I get to my actual question, let me just be clear here lol... We are completely, and utterly just friends.. He's another girlfriend basically .. Its an unconventional friendship in the fact that everyone would assume we are having an affair if they knew the time we spent together, even alone and away from his wife/my friend... Luckily she's a fabulous soul who sees it for what it is and is truly happy that we're all awesome friends... It's almost like communal living really .. When I separated from my husband he automatically assumed that I was having an affair with my friend, so did a few ther people I think.. Luckily he has come to his senses over it.. I think the fact that our friendship is very unusual challenges a lot of social norms with what's acceptable between male/female friendships when partnered.

    ANYWAY, I had to explain that to get to my question.. Personal boundaries, both in social situations, with friends, with strangers.. What are yours, do other peoples affect you? I was speaking to my friend about this the other night and we always exchange women and men's points of view to see how opinions differ.. I think we've established between ourselves that men and women have quite different boundaries but that it's also situational and depends on the person you're with.

    Connecting physically and emotionally with other humans in general, not with just our spouse is a natural thing, whether it's giving a friend a hug when we see them, giving our kids a cuddle, giving a collegue at work a sympathetic pat on the back if they're struggling with their day, or something more personal with a spouse.. Yet so many people seem to have massive hang ups about personal contact and boundaries?

    Do you have lines you simply don't cross with it comes to what's socially acceptable touching another person? Do to ask permission to hug people or just do it? Does it depend who the other person is, and if it's a particular person (for example another man, a friends husband, a male collegue, or vise verse if youre a man) does it change the way you feel you need to act?

    If someone walked up and hugged your husband, would it annoy you? My husband (who in currently separated from) is a rather charismatic squishable character, so he's been hugged by most of my friends at some point (and sometimes quite often), gets hugged by women at work, and from time to time hugs my female friends. I have no problem with it, I didn't when we were together and I dont now.. I see it as a pretty normal caring thing to do.

    I know that if I was to walk up and hug one of my friends husbands it would be highly inappropriate (not that I ever feel the need lol), like wise if they were to give me a hug. Some women would have jealousy issues over it.


    Im lucky that none of my friends have these issues but I've been thinking about it in general lately. If you were upset at work and a make collegue gave to a huge, would you consider it to be offensive because he has crossed some sort of unspoken boundary?

    Is there a time and a place where these things are acceptable, but then not? If your husband hugged a friend without you present, does it change how you feel?

    Sorry, my question is all a bit over the olace i guess.. I hope i make sense ..This intrigues me a lot!

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    Default Personal Boundaries.. How are they different for men and women?

    Generally speaking I don't really like being touched/hugged etc.
    It doesn't freak me out or offend me, it just feels awkward for me.

    Having said that I have a number of really good friends who are extremely touchy feely affectionate people and so I just expect it from them and am comfortable with it.

    I have had male colleagues hug or kiss me when congratulating me on my pregnancy that took me aback.

    It wasn't because they are guys, just because I didn't realise we were that friendly to warrant that sort of interaction. Wasn't offended though, just felt a bit awkward.

    My DH is also charismatic and gets and likes cuddles from lots of people. I have no issue with it at all.
    Last edited by giggle berry; 23-08-2012 at 16:31.

  3. #3
    tiggerfields's Avatar
    tiggerfields is offline Priestess of Kult K'iesha... Mooo!
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    Very generally speaking I think it's more broadly cultural as to what's accepted. Out in Asia I'll greet both professional and personal associates, both male and female, with a kiss on each cheek yet this isn't appropriate in Australia or the UK. It's also only a female/female and male/female thing, men greet men with a handshake.

    Within cultures it's down to what your social circle is comfortable with. Mine kiss and cuddle between women and women/men, and men will hug if they're close or shake hands if not.

  4. #4
    Leeny's Avatar
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    I definitely agree on it being a cultural thing too.. But if we pick western culture (because that's where most of us are, so I'm more interested in what I'm surrounded by), there seems to be a pretty big variation between peoples opinions.

    Does the way we were raised influence the way we feel about people touching in general? And not even our own physical boundaries. Even the boundaries we have for those in our life.

    My parents were not at all affectionate and loving towards me, so I wasn't raised to be a touchy person, yet it doesn't bother me if people do it.. Quite the opposite actually. Yet some people who were raised with parents who were affectionate to them, friends, family etc may have the jealousy and affair issues popping up if their spouse so much as touches another man/woman.

    If a woman was to be sitting with a female friend who was upset and sat on a couch with her and comforted and cuddled her with no one else around, her partner in nearly all circumstances wouldn't have an issue (I guess unless he suspected there was a same sex affair starting), yet if a woman was to sit and comfort a male friend physically with a hug or whatnot, it would be a lot less acceptable for some men.

    It works both ways. If I had a male friend give me a hug for whatever reason when no one was around and I told my spouse, he would automatically assume the other male was making a move, as would most people. Yet I know he'd have no issue with a female friend doing it.

    Why the difference? Why do we see it as being less acceptable to comfort or connect with a person of the opposite sex (or find it offensive if our partners do so in most circumstances)

    Why is it so wrong for people to connect physically with the other sex in a non-intimate way? I know SOMETIMES it mean's affair... I'm not denying that, and yes, sometimes its inappropriate. But it seems people are so worried about touching one another for fear of what their spouse or peers will think even when they have nothing to worry about.

    I'm not talking emotional or physical affair material here.. Quite the opposite really. Just innocent physical connection that is then misconstrued or confused for being more then it is.
    Last edited by Leeny; 23-08-2012 at 19:15.

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    It's weird, I love being kissed and touched by DH, but I get creeped out when others do it to me, even in a completely plutonic way. I even feel weird when my parents kiss and hug me.

    As to how I would feel about another woman kissing or hugging/touching my DH, in a non sexual way.... it would depend on the person. If it was an ex, or previous sexual partner I'd be annoyed. If it was just a friend of his, probably not. But again, I'm not a touchy feely person outside my relationship.

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    missybubble is offline I'm a strange one, but I'm good at it :)
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    Default Personal Boundaries.. How are they different for men and women?

    An interesting topic. I don't really hug friends much, unless they are upset, or I haven't seen them for a while etc. When it comes to family, my dad's side is a lot more touchy feely than my mum's side. I don't see my dad and family all that often so we all hug when we do see each other.

    As I'm single, I wouldn't have an issue with hugging male friends but if I had a boyfriend I wouldn't do it cos I know I wouldn't like him hugging other girls (that weren't relatives.)
    Last edited by missybubble; 23-08-2012 at 19:35.

  7. #7
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    I think there are so many variables to consider. Relationship with the person, history, meaning, the general character of the person(s)...

    I can't stand being touched by strangers. When I worked at KMart many many moons ago I would really get upset if a customer got my attention by holding or touching my arm. I can't stand it, I'm not sure why though, maybe down to invasion of my personal space.

    Having said that, when I was married to exH I had a bloke friend and we used to sometimes go out boozing together. There was never the slightest hint of romance and exH was perfectly comfortable with that. (I'm not sure if I would have been as comfortable with him going out boozing with another woman though - but there was a whole different set of issues around that).

    Part of me has also been somewhat reserved when showing affection to a bloke in case they take it the wrong way (and I am in no way inferring I'm some gorgeous femme fatale ). The only bloke I've hugged (other than family or DF) is my old personal trainer. It wasn't an every day occurrence but I owe him a lot and I wanted him to know it. He knew what it meant, he knew I was in a loving and committed relationship and there was no romance behind the hug.

    A few weeks ago I went into the office and it was the first time I'd seen my boss since December. I've known him for about 8 years and worked with and for him a few times. This was the first time I had gone into the office with this job that I started about 16 months ago. The environment is very corporate and I had to phone him from reception as I don't have a pass to get into the office. I was a bit taken back when he came to greet me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I wasn't bothered, he was just being friendly and showing me his appreciation. I'd be bothered if a boss did it every day but my boss is far too professional to do anything like that.

  8. #8
    Leeny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by missybubble View Post
    As I'm single, I wouldn't have an issue with hugging male friends but if I had a boyfriend I wouldn't do it cos I know I wouldn't like him hugging other girls (that weren't relatives.)
    This is exactly my point (I'm not attacking you, your point of view is completely normal and its the social standard )... I'm curious as to why we're actually like this? Why if we had a boyfriend and they hugged a female would we feel jealous and threatened.. Is it because we're insecure? Is it because we don't trust that the husband/boyfriend and think he'll enjoy it a little too much?

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    Dh and I have set very strict boundaries. A hug or a kiss on the cheek is Ok, a cuddle isn't.
    We have a rule that we are never socially with someone of the opposite sex alone. Work texts are keep professional and no silly nicknames (yes a single lady texting my hubby and signing off as 'sizzling hot' is never OK and she certainly knows that now.) Especially when his wife is living in another town looking after her sick parents while he sells the house and moves up (6 mths).

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    Leeny's Avatar
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    My friend and I have been having a few drinks together lately too Bec.. Completely just a friend thing, a good way to wind down and relax away from the kids (or even after the kids are in bed).. Never the slightest hint of romance, but I'm sure other people would be skeptical! It just seems like a social taboo.. if it was a woman, I'd be right.. If it's a man, there's many an affair rumor!

    I'm not a touchy feely person either, but I'm not bothered when I'm hugged.. In fact, I always wonder why I miss out on hugs from friends if they hug other people.. I must give off don't hug my vibes even though I don't mean to send them out? lol


 

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