646779 tn?1281996041

Relationship boundaries… when they’re different between you and your partner

My partner is an avid climber and enjoys nothing more than climbing. He spends as much of his free time doing it as he can and his body will allow with rests.
So his ideal way to use his time off work (annual leave) is to go on climbing excursions.
For some extra background, for example he went on a 10 day trip last year with a group of climbers. He only knew two of them personally and met the others for the first time.
Climbing relies on belayers and so understandably you need people to climb with.
My partner stayed in a shared house with them all and he had a bedroom which he shared with another woman (apparently an older woman)
I was at home during this and that was all I got to know.
So we were out for a meal last night and he told me he has been invited on a trip abroad - 2 weeks. He knows one guy. He said it is this one guy and “two girls”. He knows nothing about them. He reassured me and said they’re probably going to be in their 40s or something (not sure how that helps as I am 39 for a start) and he said this is how it is - climbing will always be a mixed group. Ok. So at one point before me knowing about these girls we were joking a little and I said how are you going to manage without sex for two weeks, will you pleasure yourself? And he said “that depends on who I share a room with…. Could be a little awkward for the other person”. It was later that we talked about the people going. Well it since dawned on me that he may share a room with a girl.
So to get to what is wrong - I feel uncomfortable with this. I do not want to restrict my partner or tell him how to live his life. But I wonder sometimes how we see things from such different angles at times. The thing is I do trust him but who knows what could happen in two weeks… what if the girl is appealing and flirts with him/ they talk in their separate beds at night/ they get a connection. Am I wrong to start feeling like I am just torturing myself being with him?
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973741 tn?1342342773
I haven't read all the responses yet but will. Until then, I just thought I'd share my opinion. I've been married for over two decades. We were older when we met, independent. We have some differences in what we like. However, we adopted a word into our relationship as it involves interaction with others and that word is appropriate. I would not in any way feel it appropriate that my committed husband should share a room with a woman. I would insist he save some extra money and get his own room. I'd kind of be hurt if he spent all of his vacation and time on his hobby as well. I'd want him to do it but not at the expense of me or my feelings. I'm fully independent of him and he of me. But, what is appropriate is something we both have to agree on.
Helpful - 1
I'm also a person that does believe as the 'other' person in a partnership, I have a say. Not like my son is a little boy and can't do what he wants but if it feels disrespectful to me and our relationship? I have a right to voice that and he can then decide if he wants to risk damage because of it or not. I LOVE my husband to travel, ha ha. BUT, I have some boundaries. I think two weeks on a vacation with a bunch of men and women and I'm not one of them would be possibly past my own boundary. My husband goes on guys trips, to be clear. And business trips with mixed company. But has never gone on a fun trip of mixed company. We established as well since my husband had been single a long time as had I that male and female friends were fine but not if it was like them and one of us only as the norm. As in they aren't interested in being friends with us as a couple but just with the one they were originally friends with. What we found? MOST were fine adjusting to our relationship and being friend with us as a couple and the ones who insisted on just a solo friendship still were gone pretty quickly from our lives. Something odd about that to me. I wasn't jealous. My husband wasn't jealous. It wasn't that. But it just was a case of that friend and US not being on the same page about priorities (our relationship over their friendship). Anyway, I think you have a lot to think about. this sounds hard. How long have you been together? Oh, and you may get different opinions here . . . that's good. Different ideas help you sort out exactly how you feel and what is best for you.
Thanks for responding. It is most definitely good to get various perspectives on the situation. I will give him credit for the fact he was always keen for me to be friends with his friends. The German girl who is his closest friend has a boyfriend. We all met up as couples and done so twice. But something happened and messed that up. So the German girl is super body confident and an extrovert. So she went on holiday with a girl friend and she posted an album of pics on Facebook. My boyfriend isn’t on Facebook. So in her album was a photo of her and her friend topless but with their backs to the camera and just wearing a thong each. I was at some point messaging my boyfriend and I asked did she send the holiday album to him directly and he said yeah. I asked about the butt pic and he said yeah she sent him that too. Well I was angry about it. He offered to have a word with her about it being inappropriate so he did. She apologised to me over message. So… the next time we all met up as couples the atmosphere had changed and we haven’t met up since. To be honest, I don’t regret calling her out on that picture situation. Some boundaries were needing to be established as at that point I was aware of everything she apparently tells my partner on their trips to climbing, just them two, like about the sex she enjoys, her period, the fact she is a d**k enthusiast. Anyway, I really went off on a tangent then. It was in response to the couple friends concept… which in our case failed.
It’s funny you use the word appropriate as that is the exact problem I had with the German girl sending my bf her butt picture. Even he said “oh maybe wasn’t appropriate?” And I said sure wasn’t.

My partner was single for years before me and he met the German girl whilst single and she wasn’t. But I have never understood why her boyfriend was happy with her constantly being with my boyfriend (I know the history was they were climbing together many days a week without her boyfriend)

I think when my partner met me he wanted the things he enjoyed about being single as well as the relationship with me. And he has had to reluctantly accept that he can’t. He was so set in his ways at the start that I had no chance of influencing any of it. He spent way more time with her than me. It is better now, they don’t meet up much but just see each other in the climbing centres. But next outdoor season is around the corner and it remains to be seen whether they will get their close friendship back on track.
134578 tn?1642048000
It's probably more like a locker room. My husband used to run in a mixed (men and women) team of 12 that did a 180-mile relay race every year. Each runner had to run three five-mile segments of the route, spaced out so the runner of leg #1 also ran leg #13 and leg #25, for example. (It's not like runner #1 got to run his or her 15 miles all in a row and then go home, the whole team was on the road the whole time, and the runners got to rest after their five miles.) Toilet facilities along the way consisted of porta potties, everyone got sweaty fast (generally, nobody got a shower between their three runs unless someone had arranged for a motel room along the route, and even then, their clothes were sweaty). If they could find one big enough, they would rent and cram into one van, or they would drive in two, and since the team ran all night, they would schedule one of the vans with sleepers and the other with the runners whose next legs were coming up, and if there was any way to do it they would grab a motel room along the way and everyone would pile in wherever there was bed space, sofa space or floor space for maybe four hours' sleep. At the end of the race, again they piled into motel rooms at the destination, at least six runners to a room, to shower, crash and sleep, then they went back home in their crowded van. Nothing about any of it was remotely sexy. Everyone was sore, grimy and tired, and usually injured. Maybe your boyfriend has it a little more luxurious but it doesn't sound like it's a lot better.

I don't know why your boyfriend said what he did about whether he would masturbate in a room with someone else there. It seems like it would be a pretty unusual thing to do around an unfamiliar person. Maybe he thought it was kind of over-the-top that you would ask such a thing and just said it to yank your chain.

As jessi said, people can meet cute flirty people who are enticing, anywhere. If this guy is committed to you he is, and if he isn't, he could go off on you without having to go to the trouble of doing it on a climbing trip. What he will like about his climbing friends is that they all are there for climbing, and they talk climbing and live climbing and know exactly what each other is going through, but that doesn't mean they're a bunch of hotties who are interesting for any other reason. If you can't support his love of climbing even vicariously, you might need to reconsider the relationship, just the way any person in a relationship with someone who is very intent on their work or their hobby has to understand their partner's love for it, and make peace with it.
Helpful - 1
Thanks for responding. I confused the post a little as I should have introduced the masterbation first as it was earlier in the conversation. We talk a lot about our sex life and this includes talks about how often sex happens. We joke around about missing each others bodies if half a week has passed. So when he told me he’s been invited on a two week holiday, first thing I say is two weeks without sex ? will you masterbate or something… it was after that he joked back “that would depend on who I’m sharing a room with as it might be awkward for them.” So yeah, he was joking. He later said “two girls are coming”. And at first I thought that was a joke too. But it wasn’t.
Regarding climbing, it’s not a sweating messy situation like a locker room. A year ago when he went on a trip with a different group, he sent me a photo of them all out for dinner.
I agree with you regarding having to be supportive and I do support him often. I even got into climbing myself and we go sometimes. But a trip away for two weeks isn’t my thing, plus I’m working.
It might be a little deeper rooted for me too as we have had problems before - he has a best friend climber who is a German girl. He learns German for her. He built her a climbing gym thing. They go places together just them, climbing. Always insisting they’re just friends.
I like to think I trust him… I think I’ve lost some of my confidence with everything that climbing has led to.
How long has this guy been your boyfriend?
We’ve been together for 13 months. So not massively secure and our first year was pretty much fully adapting to his climbing passion. He was closer to the German climber girl than me for months. It was hard and weird for me. Over time they see each other much less than before. He knows my feelings about her now. I know I am portraying myself as a jealous person but you would be shocked about everything I’ve let slide with them including them messaging each other a lot on my birthday. He took me climbing for the day but made time to send her photos of the blue sky and send them to her while I waited by the car. She also tells him all about her sex life and he knows she’s likes d**ks (to be blunt) The good thing is he has always been open and honest about her and so I trust it was just a close friendship. Sorry, my post has shifted to some deeper rooted issues that have come from being in a relationship with a passionate sports enthusiast (climbing)
I asked because if you don't feel right about his behavior, whether the situation is him having female friends [if that is what she is], or whether it's his having a hobby that causes him to disappear two weeks at a time, you don't have to stay in the relationship, especially if it's not a super long-term relationship, he isn't the father of your kids, he isn't covering your expenses, or something like that. Who pays the rent? How is he with your children? I guess I'm saying, what does he bring to the party to make up for you not getting the certainty you need from him?
Great thought provoking questions. We don’t live together. I have a job and carry my own home, bills and kids needs separate to him. As my kids are a little older now I guess I have enjoyed meeting someone and regaining some independence. So what I like about him - he has patience, calmness, he is attentive, gentle, sensitive, kind, affectionate, caring and thoughtful. I keep my independence so I can be a parent. He is independent too. He is nice to the kids but my relationship with him is more separate than involved with them. They’re pretty independent at 21 and 17. My daughter is 13 but I contact is 50/50 so that too is relatively separate to him. She likes him a lot. Regarding staying with him, I think I get attached quickly as I am an identical twin and I cannot easily let go when I am in love, even if it would help me to. We are both vegan and make wonderful meals together. He has shown me the joys of the outdoors when we go climbing. But it is a double edged sword - he climbs so much that I have never spent a Saturday or Sunday with him for the entire day if it meant he could climb instead. It saved the relationship when I came climbing. We were heading for ruin as he was spending all this time with this German girl. I spoke up that I wasn’t happy about it so he said come climbing with us. I did and I have gradually got into it in the last year.
But yeah like you say, I haven’t “felt right” about his behaviour a lot and it has honestly taken a year for us to get beyond that. For some reason I always felt he was worth seeing if he would move his affections away from the climber girl and more towards me. (Disclaimer - he would say there has never been affection for her)
I don't think you sound jealous, exactly, but maybe left out or unsure.

Something that stands out to me:

"It saved the relationship when I came climbing."

Does he take any interest in things you like to do? Maybe you don't have something you are as passionate about as climbing, but does he get to know your hobbies? Other than your kids, do you have family that he's gotten to know? Friends?

There doesn't have to be romantic affection for German girl for her to take priority over you. If it were your anniversary or something, and he could climb with German girl, even locally, what would he do?

He took you climbing for your birthday. In a way, that sounds like a big old gift for himself. If you wanted to go to the beach or a spa, would he have done that?

I'm also an identical twin. One thing that is really hard for us sometimes is having our own identity. You are, from birth, "the twins", "the girls", one of a pair. You are often dressed alike and compared - who gets the better grades? who has more boyfriends? who is more popular? You never get your own birthday, and well into adulthood, you often get matching or similar gifts. If you still look anything alike, people still ask which one you are. It's a strange phenomenon.

It makes it harder, maybe, to find and keep your own identity in a relationship. Do you particularly like climbing?

In 5 years, do you think you'll be okay with things as they are now? Will you be okay with him taking all vacation time to go climbing, without you? You'll have an empty nest, and you'll be spending vacations without him.

Honestly, I don't think you're being unreasonable. It would be really hard for me. I'm not into climbing at all, and even if I started doing it to learn what he loved so much, like you, I have work. I'd have to really weigh it out with how much he puts into what I love, how much interest he puts into my life.
That last comment. Misleading on my part... of course I haven’t stayed with him  for the sole purpose of gaining his affection over the German climber. What I mean is that I didn’t feel that situation was more important than how I felt about him, than what we had. I didn’t give up on the great things we had over their friendship.
But even if this one woman you are wondering about fades away, there will always be new climber friends and events that draw his attention and time. His sport is an unchangeable part of who he is, and was in his life before you. Having friends that also make climbing the center of their world is doubtless really happy for him.

Your original post asked if it's worth it to torture yourself to be with him. I'd say enjoy the good times while they're here, with the understanding that he hasn't made you the center of his world. If that isn't acceptable, never be so eager to be in a relationship that you settle for what makes you less happy. Other nice guys exist that like to cook, who don't go away for two weeks at a time.
I think you hit the nail on the head Jessie, with the twin analysis. I do lack identity in relationships and because I am driven by my feelings, if is easy for me to want to invest myself in him and what he enjoys. I was aware long ago when his own mother asked me “you’ve started climbing but what has he started that you enjoy?” The answer isn’t much. I like fitness and go to a local gym. He took a break from climbing so to have a period of rest from climbing strain (fingers) but he is still super active during rests eg, will do something else. So he started coming to the gym with me. Just once a week. But I loved that so much. My own fitness improved as he helped spot me on machines etc. So after a month his climbing break was over and he dropped the gym with me. I was sad about it which he knew but he was now onto a climbing program he purchased online. Funnily enough the German girl purchased the same one and was already on it. One day I went to an indoor climbing place for a family birthday. My sisters came and our teenage sons. My partner was there separately with the German girl. I could see from afar that she was his ‘gym buddy’ now. Training together, side by side, like we had been doing at my regular gym. I admit that I got jealous seeing them like that and I confronted him the following day to say he dropped me and my gym to pick it all back up with her. So anyway we haven’t been to my gym since. Regarding any other changes for me… he comes to my house and stays here on average twice a week. So I guess he hasn’t got into anything I like (and yeah, the gym is my only hobby) I am pretty busy working, being a mum and studying a Masters so I don’t have time for much more than the odd climbing activity with him and my own commitments.
Maybe you so enjoy his external traits that you missed that inside, he isn't taking your relationship very seriously. Sure, he'll go to bed with you and take you climbing, because he wants to do those things. But it doesn't sound like he has any interest in a more full relationship, or in being committed to you. Unless you are not interested in that either, it seems like you'll continually feel ignored while he's having his jollies and going on with his life. Not sure I'd be up for that myself. Being alone is more fun than being treated as second (third, or fourth) best.
Listen, his own mom asked what he was doing for you. To me, that would imply that he doesn't generally do that for his partners, or she sees how imbalanced it is. Or both.

You have a full life - you're a single mom, you're getting a Masters (go you). You enjoy fitness and health. You're vegan, so obviously you can commit to something and hold to it. You have a career.

Even as an identical twin, you are a whole person as yourself. You don't need someone else to be whole. I think it's easy as women, not just twins, to identify ourselves by those in our lives. Men get asked what they do, we get asked if we have kids and if we're married.

I couldn't be in a relationship where it's so one-sided, and where one thing took such priority. I don't think it's unfair to ask for balance.
I don't think it's unfair to want balance in a relationship (and I don't think yours has it), but he's made it clear for more than a year that he has no intention of doing anything but what he is doing and you've accepted the status quo, so asking doesn't seem like it will cause him to change. He's absorbed in his long-held hobby (and hardly seeming to notice that it causes him to do things that might bother a girlfriend), and you've been accepting of the way this plays out in your life. I don't think mildly requesting change, or trying to get him to understand that his "different boundaries" are becoming a problem for you, is going to impress him at all. (Why would it? He gets sex two times a week and ignores you at holidays in favor of what he would prefer to do, and there are no penalties. He's got a nice life.) As I said above, if you don't want a committed relationship either, go on with what you've got, just don't kid yourself that it's a committed relationship in which you have the right to complain. He doesn't act like a boyfriend, he acts like a guy you hang out with a couple of times a week. Does he introduce you as his girlfriend to the German girl or to other friends of his? Does he take you around to meet people in his life? If so, maybe he's more into being your boyfriend than he sounds. But it really doesn't sound like it. The choice of what to do about that would be yours.
I think it would be helpful to give more background about him. This is a guy who was single most of his adult life. He built his life around activities including cycling and then for the last seven years, climbing. I am his forth ever girlfriend and we are 13 months and I am his longest girlfriend. The rest made it to less than a year.

I knew when we met he was different and he was interesting to me. I’d previously been getting to know someone (dating) who I decided wasn’t for me as he was possessive, needy and jealous. So my boyfriend’s independence was really attractive. He is calm and has everything together.

When we first met, we had instant chemistry. He was and still is wonderful with me - he gives himself 100% in person - never on his phone, he cooks from scratch for us, lights candles when I’m due to arrive, made me a birthday card himself from crafts, plays guitar to me.  One thing that was odd for me though was no matter how good it was with us, climbing was always the thing that snatched him away. Maybe some would say we saw each other plenty - we averaged 2 to 3 meet ups a week (evenings) but never spent a weekend day together as he’d go climbing. I saw him on his ‘rest days’ which frustrated me sometimes because I felt he was fitting me around his schedule.

What I will say for sure is I was aware of when he began to fall in love with me (4th month) Our relationship got closer and I felt his love in the way he held me at night. For someone so obsessed with his hobby, over time he tried to see me more. He misses me if we have more than two nights apart.

He most definitely tells friends about me. He tells them “I’m going climbing with Kate” on their ******** group. He has said before ‘I’m so happy that you like my friends’ when I’ve met some of them.

When I met his family I stayed with them and him for a weekend, he openly cuddled me and kissed me around them, stroked my head, attentively saw to my needs and made me feel a part of them. For Christmas he wrapped his gifts to me beautifully with brown paper, strings, loving messages. We did go on a climbing holiday last august for a week, just us. It wasn’t all climbing - we went to the beaches, we had the most fun living together, we went out for meals.

Regarding his climber friend (German girl) he understands now since I opened up about how I felt about them, and he sees her less because he doesn’t want to jeopardise our relationship. And finally I should add that we have talked about this 2 week trip since I originally posted and he has tried to reassure me. He said ‘I take it you’ve never been on a group trip… it’s not anything like you’re imagining’ (told me that in the past they’ve crammed into bunk beds and cabins. No one is there for anything but the sport) we also touched on the 2 weeks with no sex topic and he said he would certainly not be horny around other women and would only be thinking about me if he was. He has said he sees me as his life partner. Wants to retire together and live together one day.

So yeah, I am definitely in a relationship with a unique guy. He is in love with climbing but for such an independent person, I do feel a priority to him. I do not doubt his love for me - I see how this has grown over the first year. And yeah, I am not going to stop him going on the trip. It will be hard for me while he is away but I think I understand his motive and got upset about stuff that might not happen. And as we had such a wonderful week away last year, I won’t rule out joining him for a climbing holiday. I guess we would be unlikely to have worked out had I not joined the hobby with him.
(The ****** above happened because I quoted a messaging platform)
Probably you mentioned FB - that gets filtered because people spam their groups there.

No one is saying he's a bad guy, or that he doesn't love you. Just make sure you aren't painting red flags white.

What he does do for you is lovely. Is he joining your family in things? How is he with your sister? Your kids?

Being in a relationship with a twin is a unique experience, as you know. How does he deal with that?

If you got sick, or had a serious injury, how do you think he'd be?

A year into it, it's normal to start thinking of the future. At your ages, that's normal.

If he's close to your age, it's a red flag that you are his longest relationship at 13 months. Do you know why they don't last? Does he want long term?

He may be lovely. He might just not be a relationship guy. You know him, and these are questions you need to answer for you. :)

He’s 38, I’m 39. His first girlfriend was when he was 30. He couldn’t talk to girls in his 20s. He was an introvert. He threw himself into hobbies. He took up dancing. That’s where he met his first girlfriend. His first two girlfriends were a decade younger than him. His last girlfriend he met dancing and was just a few years younger. She was emotional, critical of him, demanding and confrontational. He ended it with her. He spent 4 years single which was longer than he intended but covid came along just when he felt ready to meet someone.
I agree 4 short term relationships sounds a red flag but he’s very inexperienced in relationships I guess.
He told me he used to be stubborn and not give into his exes demands. He said he didn’t love her, in 10 months of being with her.
I actually think he is worth the compromises I’ve made for him. I guess if not for my own busy schedule, i might miss him more. For now it suits to be a little independent of one another.
We separately went to our fitness thing tonight - I went to my gym and did weights and spin (cycling) and he went to the climbing gym. We are meeting up tomorrow after our work day. He said he can’t wait to see me :)
Thank you all for your contributions to my post. Really helped me.
207091 tn?1337709493
I think there are a few issues here.

The first is trust. He could just as easily run into flirty women at work, in the grocery store, at the gym at home, etc., as he could on  one of his trips. You probably run into flirty men, too. Either of you could form another connection anywhere.

Also, if he's a decent, normal guy, he's not going to pleasure himself in front of some unsuspecting woman (or man) without her consent.

On this specific trip - is the other man in a relationship with one of the women? Is that why he'd be sharing a room with the other woman?

I think in relationships, you can express your discomfort and ask for certain things and not have that reach the level of "telling them how to live their lives".

It's entirely fair for you to ask him not to share certain parts of himself with others if you are exclusive. Letting him know that you'd prefer he not pleasure himself in front of others seems reasonable to me.

I will say that he doesn't seem all that great about easing your fears, or taking them seriously, or something. His answer about pleasuring himself seems a little flippant or thoughtless. Maybe you weren't quite clear about why you were asking, but if you weren't, you should be.

I do not climb, and certainly don't go on trips like this, so I don't know the general atmosphere. It could be like a cruise ship with whirlwind romances, or like a locker room where everyone smells and there is nothing sexy at all about it. If you don't know either, you should ask.

I think you just have a bunch of questions that need clarifying, and it's fair that you get answers. Only then can you decide if you can live with it or not.

Helpful - 1
Hello, thanks for replying. I just responded to another comment above which explains the masterbation topic.
Yes you are right that he doesn’t ease my fears well and attributes most things to climbing. I feel he has trivialised my views on this and said “I’m not going to turn down a trip because some women are coming”. I said number 1. I don’t want him to turn it down if he wants to go - I am telling him how I feel to see if we can work through why this is a problem. 2. He will be living with these girls for 2 weeks, he may share a room as he has done before, he calls all his climbing trips holidays (he isn’t happier than when he’s abroad climbing and to him that is a holiday - what you call vacation) and he will spend his days, evenings and nights with them (cooking, eating out)
Like you say, I am clear with him that I am not telling him he can’t go. I have asked him are we too different as people that we feel worlds apart with this stuff. Innocent in his eyes, hurtful in mine.
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