The Healthy Boundaries Series, I-A: Oversharing

Healthy Boundaries & Oversharing

A little over a week ago, I wrote [the first in a series about healthy boundaries,][https://fetlife.com/users/50648/posts/5526094] and in the writing, I mentioned oversharing, which struck a chord with many.

However, I think that it’s important to clarify what I mean by oversharing in the context of healthy boundaries and connecting with others.

I just looked up the word, and here’s the definition:

o·ver·share

/ˈōvərˌSHer/
verb
reveal an inappropriate amount of detail about one’s personal life.

And this it is. But who gets to decide what is an “inappropriate amount of detail”?

To me, the only answer is “I do. Me.”

Or you, if we’re talking about you and your level of sharing.

That is the key when it comes to personal boundaries and creating healthy limits.

Sure, other people can judge us for what we choose to share. They may back off, or determine that we are WAYYYYY too out them for them.

That’s true. And that’s their right.

Heck, people do that with me quite a lot.

However, that’s THEIR boundary issue, not mine.

Because when it comes to my healthy boundaries, I get to decide what I’m willing to share at any level of a relationship (or stranger-ship), and what is good for me to do so.

What my healthy boundaries are.

For example, I share a lot with you. All of you. People I know and people I don’t. And some of you may read what I write about my life and think, “Ugh, that’s too much.”

Or, when I’m on an early date, I’m quite frank about my freak flag. And I scare A LOT of otherwise enthusiastic people off.

And that’s OK. I’m comfortable with what I share and how I share it, because I’ve thought seriously about it, and discussed it with people who matter to me, so whether you think it’s too much or not, I don’t feel uncomfortable with you knowing XYZ about me.

On the other hand, I will often refuse to speak about the same things one-on-one via private message.

Weird, huh?

Well, to me, it’s more intimate and suggestive then, and it’s more wank-fodder-y feeling. Which I find gross, and so I decline. Because my personal boundaries guide me well and I feel good about them.

And often, then, the opposite reaction comes at me, “Why you no want to tell me these details about you sex, huh?”

In their eyes, I may be under-sharing.

IDGAF.

Because personal boundaries are about me protecting, respecting and honoring me, not anyone else.

Just like yours are about protecting, respecting and honoring you, and not me or anyone else.

So, as you think on your own personal boundaries, start with worrying less about what might “scare others off,” or “make you vulnerable,” and think more on what feels GOOD and RIGHT to you.

Maybe ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you sharing because you think this person deserves/needs to know?
  • Are you sharing because you hope for something in return (attention, love, pity)?
  • Are you sharing as a reciprocal conversation (they shared something comparable)?
  • Are you sharing because you’re nervous?
  • Are you sharing because you want to impress?

And

  • If you share this now, and you get a negative reaction, or it ends your interaction, will it still be right to you?

And if it feels good and right, your are sharing just enough for where you are right now.

And as you grow and learn, you can adjust/experiment with what might feel good and right to you based on the results you get and what you want from your interactions.

The Healthy Boundaries Series, I: Emotional Intimacy

Healthy Boundaries

I’ve been asked quite a lot about personal boundaries and how to set them, how to recognize what is a healthy boundary and how to enforce the boundaries we have.

I’ve been kind of noodling on this for a while, and I feel like I’ve got a good idea of how to tackle it, now, so I’m going to start with a biggie: Intimacy—in this case, emotional intimacy.

In each part of this series, I’m going to give examples of a boundary being too soft, too hard, and what a healthy boundary level looks like.

I’m also VERY open to your thoughts and opinions and questions as we go, including suggestions on other boundaries that you’d like to see covered.

Let’s start!

Too Soft Boundaries in Intimacy

People with soft intimacy boundaries tell way too much too soon about their personal lives, often either scaring people off or signaling they are vulnerable to less-than-pure intentions.

They are commonly referred to as “oversharers.”

It’s more than that, though, because there are many ways to be open and transparent without necessarily having weak intimacy boundaries.

It’s often a combination of oversharing AND making themselves overly vulnerable to people who have not yet matched their level of investment and disclosure in a relationship.

Too Hard Boundaries in Intimacy

These people avoid any vulnerability or closeness in relationships, period. Many avoid emotional relationships altogether, usually to their detriment, as it leads to loneliness and a sense of alienation/isolation.

This is often the result of being hurt in the past, and it’s totally understandable. It’s still not healthy.

Sure, this could be good for a time of healing, and reflection. However, never stepping back out of that hard shell will ultimately stifle your experience in life.

Healthy Boundaries in Intimacy

These people value their own thoughts and opinions, while also being open to others.

They share pieces of their life, and look for others to share in return, creating an evened-out give-and-take of vulnerability and deepening of the connection.

They’ve probably thought about about what and how much they’re willing to share with “just anyone,” and what they prefer to keep to themselves until they know people better, and they stick to those personal boundaries, even under pressure, or when they REALLY want someone to like them.

They realize that sharing too much, too fast can overburden and stress others, leaving them in an awkward and uncomfortable position.

They also protect their own well-being by being clear when they don’t want to be involved. This may be because they don’t currently have the bandwidth, or because they feel like it’s none of their business.

People with healthy intimacy boundaries share without expectations, and don’t feel that they MUST return any specific reaction when others share their own stories. It’s all about consent and personal investment, and they invest based on what they’re willing to offer of themselves at any given time.

What are your thoughts?

What can you add to this conversation?

Do you find yourself often in one of the not-as-healthy patterns? If so, what can you do, to make it feel more healthy to you? How could you practice healthy boundary setting and maintenance?

Did I miss anything that you feel should be added?

Relationship Anarchy Has The BEST Ideas!

A venn diagram with two circles overlapping. And arrow pointing to the overlap says, "The sweet spot for friendship, love, romance, sexytimes, etc."

Now, don’t get me wrong. Relationship Anarchy are not the only way to do it right, and in fact, many practitioners probably screw things up at least as much as the national average.

I’ve written before that polyamory is not for everyone. And I mean it. Some people are inclined to be monogamous, and that’s cool. Some are not. That is also cool.

It’s about finding what works best for you and your partner(s).

So, back to some of these relationship anarchy core ideas.

Unlike many might believe from just hearing the term bandied about here and there in polyamory and other circles, it’s not an “anything goes” philosophy where what you do is all about you and blind to the effect on others.

Not at all. There are commitments and love and drama and fun and… well, let be a bit more clear, and just dive into it.

Put Yourself First

One of the core tenets of relationship anarchy is to put yourself first. Not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that honors the needs YOU have and allows you to help others meet their needs as well.

Romance Is Not Greater Than Friendship (or vice-versa)

Yesterday, I answered a call for sources for an article about why people might want to keep developing their friendships once they have a significant other. Like that’s a question that needs to be answered.

But even is that’s a no-brainer for you as it has been for me, you might still (like I have in the past) be putting your romantic relationship first pretty much always.

Relationship anarchists allow relationships to grow based on connection, not just on the concepts of sex and romantic love. Friend may often (and continually) take precedence over some romantic or sexual lovers, and that’s OK.

It also means that doing the things with friends we might normally do for/with lovers, like having a “date” night for connection, complimenting them, and being physically (not necessarily sexually) affectionate is OK, and lifts us up with companionship.

Relationship Anarchy Examines WHY

Why this relationship? Why this step?

The default relationship pattern we see in most of our culture has been given a moniker: The Relationship Escalator, because an escalator only goes one way:

  • Meet
  • Date
  • Commit
  • Marry
  • Kids

And so on…

Relationship anarchy chooses each step, and also makes the point that it is also perfectly acceptable to step back to a previous relationship style, or sideways into another, not just go blindly forward.

What about THIS person calls me to THIS relationship style?

Set Personal Boundaries (and keep them)

Relationship anarchy is more focused on personal boundaries in relationships, rather than rules.

Healthy personal boundaries are a positive focus.

“I choose this path for me,” rather than, “You’re not allowed to do that.”

It’s finding the sweet spot (see above), and realizing that two people will never FULLY overlap, but that OK. Awesome, even. You have things you enjoy together, and things that you enjoy apart.

Recognizing that allows people to grow and thrive as individuals, even within couplehood or polyhood.

The Takeaway

Again, I’ll point out that I’m not advocating one relationship style over another.

I’m saying that some of the precepts of RA can be valuable to any relationship style, and can help you grow as a single, a couple, or a group.

Put Yourself First, Without Guilt

A still from Meghan Trainor's video, "I Love Me."

A while back, I wrote about always putting yourself first, And a lot of the private messages I got were asking about how to do that without feeling guilty.

Because we are raised with the message that we are to give to others, even at sacrifice to ourselves, and it’s very hard to overcome that.

I think people naturally equate putting yourself first with being a selfish asshole, and that’s not it at all.

In fact, I believe that by putting myself first, I’ve been able to open up and give far more than I ever did before. But that’s neither here nor there.

When talking about putting yourself first, I don’t mean grab the first (and biggest) slice of cake, or the last cocktail wienie, or bilking someone out of their pension. Continue reading “Put Yourself First, Without Guilt”

The Needs Hierarchy

BDSM Hierarchy of Needs

So, in PE (Power Exchange) relationships, we all have needs. Knowing what those are and understanding how to get those met is critical.

I’ve read a lot about how dominants should put their subs’ needs first. I think this is backwards and wrong, and I’ll explain why.

First, here is how I believe dominants need to prioritize needs in their relationship:

1. Dominant’s Needs
2. Submissive’s Needs
3. Dominant’s Wants
4. Submissive’s Wants

Let’s look at this. Continue reading “The Needs Hierarchy”