What would you think if your SO did this?

This thread is inspired by several recent ones, including one of mine, that ask about people’s boundaries within relationships. I’m often surprised by the opinions I get from others about where they draw lines. Sometimes they’re way more permissive, sometimes far less, so it’s always interesting and enlightening to read. Note that they are hypotheticals and not specific situations that are relevant to my life right now, though all of them are situations I’ve seen happen.

  1. Your SO has an old friend (from before you were together) of his/her preferred gender. S/he wants to go out to dinner alone with this friend to catch up on stuff. Do you feel OK with them going? Do you feel angry/left out if you’re not invited? What if you are invited but can’t make it, is it then OK for them to go?

  2. Your SO chats online with a person of their preferred gender. They say this person is just a friend, but they talk whenever your SO is online. They haven’t met in person and have no plans to. Are you OK with this arrangement? What if they talk to multiple people online? What if they want to meet this other person?

  3. Your SO has a financial arrangement with his/her ex, like a car loan payment or a credit card debt that they accumulated they were together. Your SO continues to have this financial relationship with his/her ex after they break up, which entails meeting with the ex once a month to make the payment, talking on the phone, etc. Would you insist that they end this arrangement if they could (by selling the car, taking a personal loan to repay the credit card, or something)? How long is it appropriate to continue a financial relationship like this after a break up?

  4. You break up with someone but you were good friends with their sibling. Do you stay friends with the sibling after your break up? How would you feel if your SO was friends with and hung out with his/her ex’s sibling?

All that you say in and of itself may be pretty benign, especially the financial arrangement. I know people who break up that have a mutual agrreement to keep it toghter so neither one gets screwed. But if all of this together is describing the same person, then I might question her /his ablility to set boundaries. Possibly too big of an ego to let things go, or insecrue enough to keep someone on the back burner. You prob feel like this person doesn’ t have your total attention and that would make me wonder why everything has to be done on their terms only…Okay to give someone some freedom but…

So far, the only thing that makes me uncomfortable is the financial situation. Of course, how uncomfortable would be dictated by my SO’s reaction to dealing with his ex on a monthly basis. Is it a slightly irritating obligation that he does because he gave his word? I’d feel much more comfortable. Does he obsess over previous encounters and the upcoming one? That would make me very uncomfortable.

Thought of a 5. Your SO and his ex lived together but broke up some time ago. They are still exchanging stuff back and forth that they each had of each others. At what point after a break up should the “giving back of stuff” end? At what point does it become creepy that your SO still has boxes of this person’s stuff at his house? Or there are boxes of his stuff at her house? I mean, if you’ve been broken up a year, or more, and you’re both still returning stuff, what does that signify, if anything? And is it a sign of something weird going on with the break up? OR just a sign of laziness?

Your first scenario doesn’t seem like a big deal, assuming your SO isn’t acting all squirrelly about it.

The rest of them might be quibble-ish. But it really depends on the context. Is the person with whom they’re chatting happily married? How does the other person relate to the questioner? How is the relationship doing otherwise? How is your SO about relationships in general, do they have a lot of friends or just a few?

I’ll answer using my current SO as a basis for such answers. I trust him implicitly and he is my best friend.

  1. I’d have no problem with him going without me to catch up w/ex.

  2. No online chatting with person of opposite sex. Not a good idea period. Even with the trust it just leads to bad stuff. I don’t even care if he were to harmlessly flirt online but it usually doesn’t end up well. The other person might get their feelings hurt and it’s just stupid. My SO has a couple of female friends from before he met me and I have no problem with that.

  3. I f they can resolve the matter like selling the item, that would be preferable. But if not, then he could mail a check or something. I don’t really see the need for them to actually meet or talk every month.

  4. Yes I’d stay friends with the sibling. Or if my SO was friends with his ex’s family that would be ok with me too.

  5. That giving back stuff needs to end immediately. Not going on a year later, no way. I could see maybe a few weeks after the breakup, maybe even a month. But not longer than that.