Post # 1
- Wedding: June 2019 - Tacoma, WA
Had an interesting conversation with some friends over the weekend and thought it would be an intersting discussion here on the Bee, as well.
Basically the discussion was about where the line is drawn when it comes to cheating/inappropriate behavior between two people in committed relationships, when the crossing of lines isn’t as clear as two people sexting, actually having sex, etc.
For example. Let’s say Jane and Max are close friends and both married. Jane and Max hang out frequently and talk pretty much daily, but it never crosses any lines into anything sexual/romantic. One day, Max gives Jane a flower he picked for her, and Jane’s husband questions Max’s motives. Jane sees no issue with this, and says it was just a friendly gesture.. On Valentine’s Day, Jane gives Max a little box of chocolates and a card. Things like this happen fairly frequently, and Jane’s husband feels like it’s bordering on inappropriate, but again, there’s no sexual or romantic texting or behavior between them. Jane’s husband feels that gifts like these are inherently romantic in nature, and therefore inappropriate for one married person to give to another. Jane disagrees and says “things” aren’t romantic, in and of themselves, it’s the intention behind them that makes them romantic or not.
My friend group and I were kind of torn on this. Some said the gift giving was inappropriate, regardless of whether or not there were romantic or sexual tones to their texts/conversations. Others maintained that without any sexual or romantic tone to the relationship, the gifts should be seen as just friendly gifts between two friends. A couple of people said that the only real line between romantic relationships and friendships is sex, and without that, no matter what else goes on in the friendship, it’s still just a friendship and nothing more. Another friend countered that even if no romantic or sexual texts were exchanged, the giving of typically romantic gifts is proof of romantic feelings toward the other person, and therefore inappropriate.
So, Bees, what do you think? If your spouse was giving another person gifts of this nature, but there was otherwise no indication of sexual or romantic interest/feelings/conversation, would that cross a line? Why or why not? Where is the line drawn between friendship and affair/cheating territory?
Post # 2
Well….I just went through emotionl cheating (you commented on the thread -thank you!) and that was obvious crossing the line.
In your above example, I can see it both ways too. I can see how the husband would be questioning his motives but at the same time, there is no romance or boundary crossing talk. But yes, gift giving can bee seen as romantic feeling but it doesn’t have to be.
I used to work with the sweetest man on this earth. He was in a different department but just all around nice guy. He was married and I was with the ex fiance. We broke up right before Valentine’s day and he got me flowers so I wouldn’t feel lonely not having flowers on Valentine’s day. Absolutley no romantic intent or anything.
I then broke up with another ex (he knew this ex) and he got me a bottle of wine because he was happy for me and knew what an a$$hole he was. Again, no romantic intent. In fact, he and his wife were at my brother’s wedding this May (he ended up leaving my company and my brother worked with him briefly at his new company).
But I would also think that the relationship would need to be reflected on – the marriages. Is Jane doing the same with her husband? Is her husband feeling excluded from her day to day communication? Is the marriage getting the proper attention and effort?
Post # 3
It would be very strange in my relationship for either of us to give someone of the opposite sex a Valentine’s day gift or for my husband to pick a flower and give it to another woman. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that unless there was some specific reason that made sense in the context. It would just be completely out of character, so, yeah, I’d be side eyeing it hard.
All relationships are different though, clearly, so I don’t think there’s a universal answer to this. I do think though that if one person in the relationship is uncomfortable with something the other is doing, the other person should rein that behavior in — within reason of course.
Post # 4
Personally, gift giving like that would cross a line in my relationship. I think it varies from relationship to relationship and depends on what an individual is comfortable with.
Simply put, anything that your SO is uncomfortable with crosses a line.
Post # 5
I think that emotional cheating is a thing but its hard to tell if that is what is happening here. Did Jane and Max also get their spouses gifts? Friendly gift giving is definitely okay but to me friendly gift giving would be more like getting your friend a bottle of wine they told you they love or a certain snack food they wouldn’t shut up about for the past week. I feel like a card and chocolates is cliche Valentines romantic…. like I wanted to get you something to show feelings so I did.
Post # 6
Yeah, friendly gift giving with coworkers is buying their lunch on their birthday or grabbing an extra latte in the morning. I’d, personally, save the flowers and chocolates for my husband. The exception would be when mourning, I’ve definitely given flowers to people post breakup and when a loved one passes.
Post # 7
Generally I consider true platonic friendships to be those that are not fostered or given preferential treatment due to attraction, regardless of the extent to which that attraction is acted upon. It is my opinion, and experience, that non-platonic energy can be directed away from spouses/partners and to “friends” in subtle ways that can nevertheless have negative impacts on the marriage/relationship.
So I personally draw the line before physical cheating or emotional affairs with overt declarations of love, but that line can be hard to determine depending on the person and the relationships involved.
In the Jane and Max scenario, not knowing either individual, I would want additional details to be sure:
– Is Jane the only recipient of impromptu gifts from Max?
– Was Max the only friend who received a Valentine’s Day gift from Jane?
– Have Max or Jane ever hidden or omitted details about their contact from their spouses?
– Have there been other issues/conflict in either marriage recently?
– Is either spouse feeling neglected in the marriage?
– Have Jane or Max ever prioritized the other’s feelings over those of their spouse?
The more “yes” answers, the more likely the friendship is receiving non-platonic energy and crossing boundaries IMO.
I’ve found Not “Just Friends” by Shirley Glass to be an interesting read that has helped me put into words my gut feelings on this topic.
Post # 8
I have close male friends who have given me flowers and I also grab them things. They’re more like brothers as we’ve known each other for twenty years. So I wouldn’t say that it’s Inappropriate. Usually there is something going on and we just want to make the other person smile because they’re going through some shit personally.
Post # 9
- Wedding: June 2019 - Tacoma, WA
Interesting input, Bees! I tend to agree.
My stance was basically that anything outside of a marriage that is causing friction IN the marriage is inappropriate (within reason, of course). The fact that Jane’s husband feels it’s inappropriate should be enough for Jane and Max to stop with the gifts, and the fact that they don’t seem interested in stopping despite the husbands discomfort is telling.
Personally, if someone were giving my spouse gifts like this, I would side-eye it pretty hard, and I’d probably assume that, even if my wife didn’t have feelings toward the other person, the other person probably had some kind of romantic interest in my wife. That would be enough for me to ask it to stop.
Post # 10
The issue is that it’s a romantic holiday and two people went out of their way to give traditionally romantic gifts to each other. Now if Max gave Jane an interesting flower that was in inside joke or she had been looking for something like it, or if Jane gave Max an interesting box of chocolates from a place special to him or with a special filling he loves, those make a bit more sense – they gave the gifts not because it was Valentine’s Day, but because they happened to notice something a friend would appreciate. Or maybe they met on Valentine’s Day or spent Valentine’s Day together for years so it’s a special ‘thing’ for them. Without those caveats, it doesn’t seem like a normal friendship.
Post # 11
somedaymrsj : I can see both sides but mostly leaning towards no issues and here is why
1. My girlfriends and i sometimes give eachother gifts such or text “happy valentines day” so if we can do it plantonically, i would think so can a male and female.
2. My husband has given chocolates or flowers to ladies at his work before
3. i have also recieved flowers from a coworker for Vday, he was male. We are very close though and much like a brother to me. His wife also works for our company so that really eliminates anything.
however if my husband was that uncomfortable with it, and he wasnt overly protective or jealous normally, i would probably cut back on the cutesy gifts.
Post # 12
I would love it if women gave my husband chocolates- lol because he’s allergic and so I’d get them 🙂
Greed aside though, I think this has to be taken on a case by case basis- some of us are gift givers and this includes friends. I’ve bought chocolates for a friend of mine simply because I know she loves chocolate. I’ll buy a special mug for someone because I know he loves mugs- so if I see a cool/ unique mug I’m just thinking of putting a smile on my friend’s face, nothing romantic. And flowers can brighten anyone’s day.
But I also think girlfriendphd : has a lot of great questions that can be used to determine the innocence (or not) of these exchanges)
And I also know that if my gift giving was making a spouse uncomfortable, I wouldn’t want to cause friction in my friend’s relationships or hurt anyone’s feelings, maybe stop altogether of make it a gift to both of them (like a gift certificate for them to have lunch together).
Post # 13
It depends on how the partner feels. If they are uncomfortable with such gifts given to their mate then it needs to stop.
Post # 14
“A couple of people said that the only real line between romantic relationships and friendships is sex”
I think this viewpoint is naive. Sex rarely just happens, it is a build up from various activities that can generally be avoided by that person not putting themselves in situations that can lead to cheating on their partner. I think people get way to caught up in the exact definition of what is physically cheating or not and ignore the fact that their partner regularly engaged in behavior that led up to the physical cheating.
My husband giving any non family member a Valentines Day gift is a hard no for me. As is sending flowers to another woman any day of the year
Post # 15
somedaymrsj : At the end of the day, if Jane’s husband has expressed concern, that is more than a valid reason for Jane and Max to stop exchanging gifts, romantic or not.