How To Deal With Shifting Boundaries In Friendships And Relationships
Every friendship has their own boundaries, and respecting those is maybe the most attractive quality that you can develop. However, boundaries aren’t always set in stone, and they can definitely shift and develop nuances.
So today I want to write about handling yourself when boundaries start shifting, and how to figure out the best way through and up as you both decide what you are comfortable with.
The touch barrier can go in and out of existence
Touching someone, even briefly, is a measurement of some basic trust and respect, but also affection. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean much more than that, but that semi-accidental touch on your arm as you’re speaking means several things, not least of which that you are standing close enough to even do that.
It’s a line you don’t normally cross, so if you do it establishes a certain level of trust that allows me as a guy to later reciprocate that touch and see how comfortable we are with it. Chances are that my touches are more of an intrusion than yours are, simply by the way society works, and there will likely be shifting boundaries and comfort levels. It can be nice and appreciated one night, but then inappropriate in daylight when surrounded by other people. You can be a little tipsy and cheeky one weekend, but next Friday you have such a hard week behind you that you aren’t really in the mood to play games and tip-toe out of your comfort zone.
And that is why it is such an attractive skill to be a) able to read obvious warning and encouragement signs and b) ask a simple question where needed. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a “do you mind” type of advance, and it gives both of you an easy way out if needed.
Nuances make life interesting (but many can’t handle them)
The ability to understand nuances is probably the most attractive quality one can develop, man or woman. An on-off-switch mentality will kill off a lot of could-have-been moments, and it is boring as well. This is very much a guy’s problem first in my experience, but women are affected as well.
I have friends with whom I talk about topics I have no business knowing and they have no business telling me about - but it’s not a secretive flirting kind of thing. In the same way I have a friend whom I sometimes cuddle with, and on occasion we end up falling asleep in each other’s arms - but that is an infrequent thing that neither of us could explain, and weeks and months go by where we keep our distance and are just good friends. I have not yet managed to pin-point what circumstances lead to these weird nights, or else I would avoid them.
There are such things as harmless flirts, especially between coworkers or married folks, just a moment of mutual appreciation and affection that is best kept between the two people involved because it won’t lead anywhere dangerous but people seeing it might still think otherwise.