This week, a group of women from our community joined us on the HealthyGamer twitch stream. They talked about having a healthy relationship using boundaries, flirtation vs. friendliness, the dreaded friend zone, and several other topics. This is an important conversation because there is a culture of toxicity towards women in the gaming community. Communities such as incel, red pill, etc. portray women in a severely negative light.
What are the Boundaries?
Boundaries are limits on both platonic and romantic relationships. These limits are established by one or more people in the relationship to ensure that they do not feel uncomfortable. The crossing of boundaries causes most of the issues faced by both men and women in social situations. Boundaries are crucial for a healthy relationship.
One of the most common issues women face is unsolicited advances or a lack of regard for explicitly stated boundaries. Many individuals believe that when they receive “no” for an answer, they need to try harder. That is not true. A rejection is not an invitation to work harder to get someone’s attention. Moreover, boundaries tend to be crossed a lot more during these attempts to try harder to get a woman’s attention.
How does a fear of confrontation affect boundaries?
A fear of confrontation also gets in the way of setting and reinforcing boundaries. Many of the ladies who joined us on the stream shared that when they set boundaries in the past, they encountered rude and disrespectful responses. Those responses are much more common than we think. Therefore it becomes harder to set boundaries when disrespect and hostility become the expected response.
Many times, women also face emotional blackmail when they do set firm boundaries. Guilt-tripping messages usually follow rejection. These messages are generally along the lines of “I am not in a good place in life, why are you rejecting me? That is unfair.”
Moreover, it is easier to set a boundary than it is to change it. Unfortunately, plenty of relationships continue for several years without a conversation around them. It is almost an implicit expectation that if something was okay to do at some point, then it will always be okay. That is a very toxic mindset, and it can lead to sexual assault and abusive relationships. The fear of confrontation makes it more challenging to change boundaries, which makes many situations even worse.
Most people do not understand that it is fine to express how you feel. It is okay to let someone know if you have feelings for them. However, the problem starts when people cannot take “no” for an answer. Not only is that extraordinarily disrespectful and oversteps boundaries, but it also puts women in an unfair position to have to justify when they are not interested.
How do you know if something is appropriate or not?
Another common question that gets asked is, how do you know if something is appropriate or not? The simple answer is, if you’re not sure, ask. If you’re not sure if you’ve already crossed a boundary, enquire about it! It is equally as important to acknowledge when you’ve unknowingly crossed a limit as it is to make sure that you don’t overstep one in the future. A lack of communication around boundaries does not lead to a healthy relationship.
The Difference between Friendliness and Flirtation
Some people seem to misinterpret approachability with flirtation. If someone is friendly and they listen to you when they talk about their feelings, that does not mean that they are romantically or sexually interested.
This problem partly seems to arise from the culture that men should not share their feelings. Due to this constant repression, men tend to feel comfortable talking about their emotions with women exclusively. That leads to a couple of problems.
Check out this video in which Dr. K talks about creepy behaviour
The first one is that it puts a lot of burden on a woman when they are the only person in a man’s life with whom the man feels comfortable sharing their feelings. The second problem is that since emotional catharsis from a conversation is such a rarity for men, they start to confuse these acts of listening, understanding, and compassion with love. That leads to all sorts of issues, such as overstepping boundaries, miscommunication, and inappropriate messages.
Entitlement and Expectation
A lot of people who are in rough places in their life don’t have outlets to express their feelings. When someone willing to listen to and be compassionate towards these people comes along, it is an entirely new experience. Moreover, due to the way society conditions men, the chance that the person who is willing to listen to their problems is a woman is pretty high.
Since this is a rare experience for these men, they start to think that the lady who seemed friendly and approachable is the answer to all their problems. They begin to believe that a relationship with this woman would solve all their problems. However, this is not the case.
Feelings of resentment start to bubble up when this ideal is eventually shattered. In general, hatred and bitterness come from a place of hurt and trauma. When a person who created a fantasy realizes that it was false, they blame the person who shattered that fantasy. That is why a lot of toxicity towards women comes from a place of entitlement and expectation. The problem begins when people treat women as ideals instead of human beings. A healthy relationship requires that mean treat women as people and respect their boundaries.
The “friendzone” arises when people form the idea that they need to give to get. They create an expectation that if they are “nice” and caring towards the person they’re interested in, that will lead to a relationship. However, this expectation is incredibly unhealthy.
This expectation arises from a lack of confidence. When people start to see deficiencies in themself due to low self-esteem, they try to level the playing field. They feel that they don’t deserve the person that they are interested in. As a result, they try to compensate for this perceived deficiency by trying to do nice things. However, they never make their true intentions known. They don’t say that they’re romantically interested.
Click here to read about how to overcome the fear of failure.
As a result, it sends the message that they’re simply a friend. When rejection eventually shatters their expectation of a relationship, they feel betrayal and regret. It lowers their self-esteem even further. It seems to them that all their investment has been a complete waste of time, which leads to anger, hate, resentment, and toxicity.
Check out our video on how a lack of confidence leads to the friendzone
Here are some key takeaways:
- Respect other people’s boundaries. No means no, not “try harder.”
- If you’re unsure whether you crossed a boundary, ask.
- Try to ask if you feel like you’re about to cross a boundary.
- If you feel hurt because of someone else’s boundary, that is understandable. At the same time, it does not entitle you to anything from the other person.
- Ask yourself if you are in love with someone or the “idea” of someone.
- Think about your expectations from a relationship.
- If a person supports you emotionally, that does not necessarily mean that they are romantically interested.
Check out the full interview here!