Boundaries: When Enough Is Enough.

Boundaries: When Enough Is Enough header image shows a fence made of wooden posts.
Photo by Pixabay

This post is, quite uncharacteristically, a rambling exorcism of yuck. I have processed the things within the post, but am still finding it tricky to navigate. This being a safe space for me (away from the wally at the heart of the post) I thought I’d brain dump here. In spite of my boundaries and hopes that they would be respected I find myself in a quandary. If anyone has any thoughts I’d truly welcome them.

There is a thing I’ve been struggling with. A vanilla world thing which led me down the path of self disgust. Made me wonder if I’m too strict with my boundaries, should cut people a little slack, was I too harsh, too entitled, too much of a bitch? My theme for February Photo Fest was formed around renegotiations with the demons in my head. And I succeeded, for the most part. With all the clutter sorted through, I had a clear enough image of what I like about me. A map of sorts.

Like all maps, it showed not only the places I’m familiar with, but also displayed new, unexplored areas. There were lines for boundaries, and marks for areas of special interest. The map helped me navigate my way around something, specifically someone, that probably started the whole grrrr-fest.

I’ve vague-tweeted about this person a few times, venting rather than wallowing in self-pity. This is my most recent one, but their behaviour continued unabated.

It started last September, when some vanilla friends asked for my open-minded support.

They knew my lifestyle is different, but weren’t sure how exactly. They were looking to open up their marriage, explore poly. At his request. But all he had come up against was hostility. I was honoured that they would trust me with their explorations, truly I was. Though I’m not poly, and I was quick to tell them so. I’m ethically non-monogamous with Sir, though it’s not something I need, just something that works for us. I didn’t share much about me, I don’t want to educate from my viewpoint. Instead, I put them in touch with some poly friends. People much better qualified to discuss the intricacies of the poly lifestyle. It also felt important to me to tell him that I was there as a friend but I wasn’t attracted to him in any way. She is straight so that wasn’t necessary for us.

I did make a little comment about how most of my playtime is platonic kink.

Something like “I invite friends to come round for dinner so we can hit each other with sticks”. But I did add the caveat that this is their journey, not mine.

Later that day (an hour perhaps) I received a message from him. Asking, in a very wordy way, if I knew anything about rope. I do so I said yes. He said she was interested in it and he wasn’t but he thought maybe he could try, he supposed. For her. Well, I said I’d point him in the direction of tutorials and stuff, and he had to let me know once he had safety shears. These have yet to materialise, five months later, so I guess he’s not that interested in her interests after all. Though he has asked me to tie him up. (I asked him what his wife said about that and he said she said “eeeee, ummmm, ok”. Rope is an intimate act, and her response was not enthusiastic consent, to me, so I said no to tying him.)

They are friends of mine, in the vanilla world and shortly before Christmas I went to a club night with him. All was well, we had a fun night and… shock horror… I even hugged him afterwards. (No mean feat. He is heavily bearded ad, as we all know, I struggle with them.)

It was shortly after this that things went more obviously pear shaped.

He started to open up to me, as friends do. We were chatting one evening, when his wife went out for her first date. I expected him to be a little unsettled but the outpouring of self-loathing was a surprise from someone who has been the driving force behind their explorations of poly. I suggested that the poly groups might be the best place for him to find support. There were people there with similar experiences who would be infinitely more qualified than me.

I was, however, quite happy to be me, ask him questions to help him find his own answers. But he didn’t want to find his own way, he just wanted to sit in the dark for a while. This was OK until he told me he’d been drinking, and then that he didn’t like being told he wasn’t someone’s type. (Like I had, he said. Which I had, because he isn’t and I didn’t want any confusion on his part.) When he started using me as an emotional punch bag I told him that wasn’t ok, and I was uncomfortable with the drunken messaging – not being much of a drinker. I didn’t consent to the way our conversation had turned, I explained and as he continued that behaviour I left him to it.

He was (I guess he still is) keen on writing.

He would write highly enlightened pieces, tucking his little judgements in between the words. They would arrive in my WhatsApp messages before I woke up, often causing such negative feeling that I couldn’t focus for hours. I requested he not send me these anymore. This was my second boundary, but the first one that he crossed. On the morning my little family celebrated Christmas day I woke to a message from him.

Thinking he was wishing me merry Christmas I opened it, was immediately sucked in to the piece, gripping in its abhorrence. I hadn’t even had a cup of tea yet, my defences were down, the response terse. I am nothing if not honest! His response was wheedling, whiny and wet. But I let it pass. He was supposed to be my friend. Unlike internet strangers who get blocked quickly and easily, our lives were enmeshed. I decided another chance was in order. I left my WhatsApp open.

And then he started asking about my blog. About my writing.

I foolishly shared a sponsored post,. It was in word and so the only piece I had which was safe and wouldn’t link back to this version of me. And I was proud of the work so why wouldn’t I share it with him? Perhaps I live in a bit of a bubble, surrounded by sex positive writing, well written erotica, accounts of filthy fun times… Did he take my words personally? He commented about how he felt like he was in the story. But he wasn’t the only man who felt that way so I guessed not, even so I did share my muse for the writing.

Then he sent me a piece of his erotica.

He wanted feedback, but I couldn’t give it to him. It was not an erotic story, it had unsafe practises and questionable consent. And it wasn’t well written (repetitive with lots of “he said” and “she said” throughout.) And he had already told me he didn’t like negative feedback. So I left it. A few days later he asked again what I thought. I told him (thanks to the twitter community) that I didn’t feel like I was the right person to offer feedback.

He soon started showing himself to be less than discreet too.

Talking openly in the school playground, about his poly lifestyle and my kinky lifestyle. Gahhhh!!! Nope. No-no-no-no-no. That’s not OK! Boundary set down by Barefoot.

This took me to mid January, by which point I was struggling to see the positives in myself. I was becoming all angles and edges, brittle in my demeanour, anxious in my presence. Was I going to need to lay down another boundary? I didn’t feel like I was the kind of friend he needed, a failing on my part perhaps. I decided to work on myself, which is where the plan for February Photo Fest started. Could I be all harrumph-ety and still feel beautiful? I didn’t know but I thought it was worth a try.

He avoided me for a couple of weeks. He didn’t need to.

I just needed him not to tell the world things about me that I don’t wish to share. But it all came to a head one Saturday night. He messaged asking why I’d shared the writing with him. I explained that I was proud of it, and he was asking about my work, so I decided to share the one piece which was typed up on word with no links leading back to the blog.

But then he got snarky. Rather than justify my actions I asked why he’d asked, he told me he just wondered. Then he told me that he was hugely drunk. And THEN he told me he should be ignored. Which I dutifully did. Muting and archiving his chat. The messages I woke to were disturbing. He seemed to think he’d made us look like a couple on our night out, among other things.

I was livid so waited until a few days later.

Making my case that he hadn’t, that if he had I’d have felt uncomfortable and would have communicated that with him. Like I was doing now about his drunken messaging. The block button was fast approaching, but he decided to berate me for having boundaries, call me names and try to manipulate me into feeling guilty. I told him that I would leave him in peace, then blocked him. (My reaction to his actions.) I did briefly doubt my actions, this is the first time I’ve stood my ground with someone from my vanilla world who has pissed all over my boundaries. Repeatedly.

Of course, a WhatsApp block doesn’t cover the whole phone, it didn’t take long before he contacted me there too. Not with an apology, just a justification of his reasons why he’d behaved like the way he did. I chose to enforce my block. Strengthen it. I decided responding would have achieved nothing other than a raised heartrate and sweaty hands.

I’ve since enjoyed a cuppa and a catch up with his wife. She is lovely, straightforward and speaks the same language as me. Most of our time together was spent chatting about my trip, her business, the children… But she did bring up his stress at work, said “I hear you got blasted with that.” I just stated that I don’t appreciate that behaviour and won’t tolerate it anymore, to which she nodded and said “you have to call it as you see it.”

Little did I expect that he would have re-ignited one of my triggers.

I was convinced this was just a response to my travel plans. The departures at both ends of the trip, as well as taking the boys abroad for the first time left me in a heightened state. But when I returned I was relaxed, easy in myself again, feeling the benefits of a February of introspection. Generally feeling light and positive. Until I saw him in the street. I ran into my garden, shut the gate and hid in my shed. Old-old-old behaviour. Sweating, tearful and with my heart pounding so hard in my chest I thought I would see lunch again, I knew that it was not OK.

Really, I shouldn’t be surprised that a bearded man who doesn’t respect boundaries (or even appear to believe that I am allowed to have them) could send me into a spin, even after putting that trigger to bed some five years ago. I’ll challenge my fears as often as possible, but the triggers are there for a reason. To keep us safe. And I now see that I am not safe with his friendship. (Or with his definition of friendship.)

I’m quite good at setting and maintaining boundaries, but where does it get me?

Looking back at this post I can see that I had to lay down plenty. For future reference I think I gave him too many opportunities to prove that he was right for my world. I kept thinking that I wasn’t the right friend for him, I couldn’t offer him the validation he needed, so he would probably be better off with friends who speak the same love language as him.

But it struck me, after the most recent message, that I’ve had it all wrong. I believe I’m right in that I am not what he needs in a friend. But what should be more important for me is that I expect better from my friends. I don’t wish to teach grown adults how to respect boundaries. From my friends I expect more, and have high expectations of myself within those friendships too.

I like that I am tolerant, I appreciate that I am able to install boundaries but… Perhaps this is the next phase in my learning? That my needs may well be just as important within a friendship, and if someone isn’t respecting those needs, those boundaries, then likely what’s important for me is to let them go. But figuring out how to do these things while also maintaining the soft, playful, mischievousness that I love about myself will be the next step perhaps.

Lessons learned and all that, but really, I think the lesson I’ve learnt here is that I leave it too long to say:

Enough Is Enough!

Thank you, as always, to Mrs Fever, whose 43rd prompt in her post 43 for 23: 43 Writing Ideas for Blogging in 2023 gave me a hook to hang my brain-unpicking hat on.

I spend a lot of time writing about boundaries. I shared overstepping the boundaries as part of my timeline of tales. From a time when I was just figuring out how to manage my head space socially. And then there is the post Bottom Berries For Barefoot where I share a little about feeling safe enough to stretch my boundaries. Plus, there’s a whole library in between! Just type “boundaries” into the search box at the side.


  1. *When someone shows you who they are believe them, the first time.* ~Maya Angelou

    FWIW I don’t think boundaries and respect are a kink only idea, I’m currently struggling with the debate over whether to visit my father, or not. I haven’t seen him in over 7ish years .. he’s not well. I don’t want to be cruel but I, like you, set and normally maintain boundaries.

    I hope whatever happens going forward you are able to put the negativity he brings behind you. <3

    1. I think I’ve got my head round believing them, I’m just not quite at “the first time” yet. Maya Angelou was a wise woman.

      Boundaries are so important, in all areas of our worlds. I’ve had kinky boundaries disrespected before, but this guy hit too close to home in the vanilla/bears/self-obsessed-man stakes. I know I will move out of this, stronger and brighter.

      Thats nothing on your debate though. Try to remember that boundaries can be shifted, to suit the one who put them up. If you wish to see him, then let yourself. But if you don’t, please don’t punish yourself and call yourself cruel. Looking after you is the number one priority. And with the years you’ve just had with focusing your love and support on your own family… Only give him what you have spare if you truly wish to ❤️ Life is precious, not least your own.

      (I’m so glad to see you back-ish)

      1. Thanks N, I know what you’re saying and I appreciate you 🙂 The truth is I’m not sure if he’s even in his right mind and I don’t really know how much more time he has. I have no need to see him but I doubt he understands why I haven’t. He has reached out a couple times in the past year, before he took a turn to worse than before.
        I’d be going for his sake, not my own. I have a feeling that my ignoring the situation is causing him pain and even though I have no feelings of love, I also have no feelings of hate. Not anymore, I freed myself from that years ago. *sigh*

        But, this is YOUR blog! lol From the years of reading your thoughts I know you do come out stronger and I can’t wait to see what you put this energy towards next!! <3 Till next time my friend 🙂 be well!

  2. People, well strangers initially, are inherently selfish when they want something to benefit themselves directly.
    That bloke sounds Like a menace. Do you think it was really his wifes request for poly or it was forced upon him? I wonder if he Broached topic as he is hugely attracted to you and thought he was irresistible?? With zero manners or integrity. Hopefully he leaves you well alone in future.

    1. She approached me for him to talk to. She knows me well and knew that there would be no conflict on my side. (She knows I’m not a fan of man buns and have trouble with beards.)

      He pushed for poly, and she agreed. But she has found joy and he has found it harder than he imagined – “I feel so ugly. Nobody likes me”. Non monogamy can be challenging, but it’s much easier if you follow rules laid out by people you wish to interact with.

      Actually, that’s just like – poly or not, surely?!

  3. 1.) Men often think they want to try poly (or swinging or some version of non-monogamy) and then get a rude awakening when their wives/partners get attention and they don’t. That part is a very common conundrum.

    2.) His continual disrespect is disgusting. If someone continually chose to NOT listen to your “no” and “not okay” messages in any other aspect of your life, I doubt you would put up with it. Why, then, did you repeatedly put up with it with this guy? (Worth examining, especially with having come out of an abusive relationship. Because this ‘friend’ was abusing you.)

    3.) Since you said you would welcome any thoughts, I will be honest and say my first thought was “Ditch the fucker!”

    4.) In practical terms, keep all those communications. So that when he tells his wife – who you are also friends with, hopefully separately – “his version” somewhere down the line, you can say, “Have a look at this.” His behavior speaks for itself.

    5.) Also in practical terms: protecting yourself from him may mean losing or changing your relationship with her, depending on how their dynamic works. It might be a good idea to be (or get yourself) ready for that eventuality.

    1. Thank you for your comment Mrs Fever.
      1 – I’ve observed that men are ten a penny, and women much more discerning. I tried to explain this to him initially but he didn’t listen. (Surprised?) I sent him back to the poly community for support as I can’t help him there.
      2 – That is a really interesting question. I do try and see the best in everyone, which I am working on, and I’m feeling quite proud of the turn around from “he’s a knob” to “block”, it was less than six weeks between first disregarded-boundary to the door being slammed in his face. (It took twelve years in my marriage so it’s a big step down.) However, I absolutely take responsibility for allowing him to take up space in my head that he was not invited to share. I think I need a toilet brush up my nose to scrub out the nasty leftovers of his presence!
      3 – That fucker has definitely been ditched!
      4+5 – She has been my friend since we arrived in the road. I’ve supported her through his infidelity years back. I won’t be slating him to her (like I don’t slate the boys dad to the boys) and I don’t think she will try and patch things up between myself and her husband again. (That sentence got stopped mid flow last week) He is safely archived in my folders, so any need to produce evidence can be met quickly (practical skills from past relationships) and while I don’t believe she will abandon our friendship I may be wrong. The joy of having been left with no-one and nothing previously is that it doesn’t hold any fear for me. If I lose a solid friendship because she is following a different path that’s ok by me. Just like it should be ok for him that I can’t call him a friend. Yucky man.

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