In the Age of Texting, We Still Need Boundaries

Dear Dr. Hurd,

My partner and I are good friends with another couple. (We’re both in lesbian relationships.) Recently, one of the women in that relationship started paying (what I believe to be) inappropriate attention to my girlfriend; sending personal text messages, email, voice mail, etc. My girlfriend and I are secure in our relationship, but I strongly believe in boundaries, and it’s getting on my nerves.


Dr. Hurd replies:

First, you say your girlfriend didn’t initiate any of this, so you shouldn’t be annoyed with her. Second, just how good a friend is this other woman? You’ve seen those bumper stickers that say, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” You need one that says, “Friends don’t hit on their friends’ girlfriends by sending inappropriate and personal text messages, voice mails and emails” (the challenge will be to fit all that on a bumper sticker…).

I believe in not letting things like this build up. Go ahead and tell the other woman that you’ve noticed this, and that you don’t like it. Keep it simple. Don’t feel like you have to justify and explain, because you don’t. People often use bad judgment, but most people are not stupid. They know what they’re doing, and the more you try to hyperanalyze it the more it will enable her to rationalize, deny, and do all the other irritating things human beings do to kid themselves.

Communication is so easy today. A text is like a tap on the shoulder. It can be that convenient—or that intrusive. Your girlfriend should be annoyed by the intrusion. She’s in a committed relationship and doesn’t need improper invitations from a “friend” who’s also in a committed relationship. She shouldn’t reply to the messages. If you think that’s rude, then how rude is it to come on to your friend’s girlfriend?

Before you say anything, you should run it by her—simply because she’s involved. Hopefully she’ll agree, or at least not be bothered by your decision to tell your mutual friend that you’ve noticed. If your girlfriend doesn’t agree, or is reluctant, then ask her for an alternative idea for making it clear that you’re not comfortable with all this. Not dropping the issue is your way of letting her know you don’t like it, without blaming her for it.

It’s not only about your relationship. It’s also about the friendship, and, like that (huge) bumper sticker suggests, friends don’t do things like that. Furthermore, they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it without some sort of comment. So go ahead and comment. The world becomes a toxic and dysfunctional place when reasonable people walk on eggshells.

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