RELATIONSHIP BOUNDARIES

Dear Fellow Journeyers,

The other day one of my longtime girl friends from generation X told me that she had given up “whoring” and had began to honor herself.  As she described her journey from “hook up sex” to intimacy I recognized myself. When I was a younger woman I had no code religious or otherwise from which to guide my intimate relationships. As a result anybody’s husband or boyfriend was fair game.

Part of my thinking was if I was single and the other person was married, then I was in the clear and the person who was married was committing adultery.  I have since changed. It’s not because I have suddenly gained religion or morals, its more that I have come to honor the relationships of my male and female friends. I have also come to value my personal word and integrity.

I can clearly recall the moment this transition -from  woman without relationship boundaries to a woman who is thoughtful about all of her actions including her sexuality-occurred.  It was Christmas of 2006 when another female friend in painful detail shared how her husband’s cheating affected her. What happened next was unexpected for what she asked of me and what I agreed to never do again. She asked me to never have another relationship with a married man.  Whether it was how she made the request or where I was when she asked, I found myself agreeing to never date a married man. I have not done so since then.

Fast forward to the present. There is a couple who have been married for three years. Together this couple approached me to have a threesome with them. I declined not being interested in either of them. I don’t know what might have happened if I had found either of them sexually attractive, but since I had not and was not interested in sex with strangers, I declined.

I did like both members of the couple and was friends with both of them. One evening when I was alone with the wife I asked her why  she agreed to participate in group sex with her husband. She said that she was impressed that her husband had openly asked her  and  had been truthful about his desire to engage in sex with two women and other women.  When I further inquired the wife responded that “He was going to want to have sex with another woman at some point during their marriage, and she was glad that he was open about it and it was better to have a plan than to find out the unexpected affair.” I was baffled how without emotion she had explained her position. I would not have  been so open to having my husband sleep with other women or that we have sex with other people.  Was I naive? Was this the brave new world? Was I being left behind as our culture had become more open about sex?
The entire episode had caused me disquiet.   I saw the over all truth in that it was human nature to desire other sexual partners. I was still not comfortable with the idea of group sex or sex outside of marriage or outside of a committed relationship. Sex for the sake of sex was no longer an option for me.

 

I had been widowed for three years when this couple had approached me, so I was single and not in a relationship.  Somehow, I guess I have bought into the concept of monogamy. I have never been able to have sex with more than one man at a time. What I mean by that is that there are woman who can have more than one sexually intimate relationship at a time. I am not one of those women.

As I spoke to my generation X girlfriend yesterday she spoke about being raised Catholic and how when she had been whoring, she was attempting to break free of those religious restraints.   I understood the Catholic aspect as I too was raised as a Catholic who came of age in the swinging sixties and witnessed a riptide of changing sexual values in the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s and beyond.

One of the interesting aspects of my conversation with my GenX friend was how drugs and alcohol temporarily blocked  her ingrained Catholic restraint on sex outside of marriage. She shared that drugs and alcohol allowed her to be more sexually free and to be someone who she ordinarily had not been. I understood that aspect of her story as well. Drugs and alcohol allowed me to go beyond my own imposed sexual boundaries.   Still, having been raised as a Catholic during the 50’s, at best  drugs and alcohol freed me from my inhibitions while in a monogamous relationship. It wasn’t always this way with me, but over the decades I have created my own rules about dating and relationships. Today those rules include not even flirting with someone who is in any form of committed relationship.

While these rules work for me, I don’t impose my values on anyone nor do I promote my sexual code. Each  must find  their own “comfort” level regarding sex and relationships in general.  For me, those values of monogamy and commitment still work for me. I think that this is particularly true where a large percentage of the men in Baltimore are HIV positive, but only 20 %  are aware that they are. This wasn’t the only reason that I changed my behavior, but it was as a good a reason as any.

With love and light,

Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer

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