Posting Fireworks That Burn

Actions Prove who people areI’ve been flummoxed for a while by how some writers, especially those married or committed, seem to get away with amazing levels of sexual flirtation in their communications seemingly without consequence.  I’m not talking about defined sex blogs, I’m referring to those based on life in general, photography, poetry, travel, etc.

Of course, I only assumed no misunderstandings because we can‘t be sure what happens behind closed post doors, so I decided to chat with some bloggers about it. This was no kind of social, scientific, double blind testing to come up with any definitive delineation of appropriateness. I just wanted to check out what’s behind it.

What started out as group speculation about lines of propriety in public comments quickly escalated into a near bloodbath on fidelity beliefs.

The varying opinions on ease with sexual overtones or statements blew us all away to an unexpected level of discomfort, hence the heat – decidedly non-sexual.   The vehemence in favor of free-for-all comments by three of my conversationalists made me question my convictions somewhat.

I need to note that only one blogger agreed to let me quote him publicly. The rest didn’t want to drive this particular conversation to their own blogs.  Fair enough.  I guess.

I also state upfront that in the end, this is really all about personal heart stuff and we all have our own idea of what’s acceptable, but what’s reasonable or not for the average commitment?

We read through various post’s reader comments that included compliments on general beauty, the sexiness of physical traits to outright statements of being turned on by one another.

Some posts were deliberately provocative – selfies of semi-nudes, bathing/shower shots, etc., so we couldn’t really be surprised when comments outside of “nice pic” came in. However, some writers pointedly invited that attention, by baiting replies with: “Do I turn you on”? or “Does this invite squeals of delight or make you think squeaky bed springs”? Even so, in all cases, there’s no actual requirement to reply with one’s level of arousal, right?

To my mind, if you’re both single and clear about the play, enjoy, but if not is that really cool?   Would I want to read my guy either answering in the affirmative or drawing out that chat in any way?  Not in this lifetime, nor the last five or the five to come.

That opinion wasn’t unanimous though.  One of us was adamant that because it was a public comment, it clearly wasn’t meant to be a reflection of any deception or cheating.  Interesting, but would his love interest get that point?

Another concurred, saying that as long as it was all in the open, it’s just harmless flirtation that required no further input, end of story, and this was where the emotional temperatures started to rise a little.  (Full-disclosure, one of these opinions is from an ex).

I wondered if that sense of freedom included publishing a post of intimate or suggestive admiration to or by a married/committed person. Interestingly, we had unanimity in declaring that was over the line and merited cautious stepping off.

Next, we moved onto our definitely non-single writers who admitted they shared more than writing tips in email and Skype conversations with their online flirtations. They easily engaged in detailing various intimate aspects of their relationship’s communication, emotional, and sexual issues.  I know it wasn’t only my jaw that dropped.

Maybe it’s because I’m old(ish), but I can’t quite see how physical distance really justifies these behaviors.  Has the ‘new reach out and touch someone’ technology made it OK to share this kind of intimacy because you’re not really touching?  Apparently it does for some. 

A writer who doesn’t agree with that, but did agree to let me name him and air his views is Ned HIckson,  a popular humorist & journalist and a resoundingly committed married man.  Ned has a wide readership that includes many admiring women that he responds to daily in comments.

He says it’s always possible to mess up, but he follows some personal guidelines to sort it out. To start, he avoids complimenting or zeroing in on any woman’s specific or intimate physical attributes and he “would never, ever comment on how ‘hot’ a woman is, or that she ‘turns me on’ or even jokingly suggest sleeping together”.

He said, “Whenever I leave a comment, I ask myself two simple questions: How would this make my wife feel and if my wife wrote this to someone, how would it make ME feel?  If the buzzer sounds with either one, it’s deleted. I generally never need to get that far, but there have certainly been some situations when I was caught up in a comment stream that I had to gut-check myself simply because, though I have a “naughty” side and am a sexual person, I feel it’s something that needs to be saved for my wife”.

You have to think if any behavior is hurtful to your significant other, there better be a pretty significant reason for doing it.  If not, why would you even be with someone apparently that incompatible?

These contentions in the world of writing sort of flung me all over the emotional grid about my own expectations, but I didn’t come away with any new beliefs and I can’t say anyone else’s views were changed about their own approaches either.

I do know though, that publicly or privately, I’ll remain damned clear about respecting my relationships and of others; most definitely, I’d expect the same from my partner.


Here’s a great guide to supplement your gut checks on whether or not your online convos are appropriate:  When Does Flirting Become Cheating? 9 Red Flags

Related post:

Love you, Miss you… Not Really…   …“Readers are not just recipients of thoughts, they are real people who believe in words, who respect words, and yes, mostly they realize the power of words. They know words matter”.

28 thoughts on “Posting Fireworks That Burn

  1. The only thing I want to ask is why don’t I get woman saying/asking those things in the comments of my blog? Seriously, I think a little light-hearted flirting is OK, but it should never go sexual in any way. Pretty much I agree with what Ned said.


    • Well, how weird is this? I just found this comment in my spam folder! Anyway, that’s the reason for my reply delay….
      Yes, light-hearted fun, sure, all the time. Yeah, Ned seems to have won the consensus, at least for those who are commenting on the post.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for reminding me – I do occasionally find legitimate messages in the spam folder. I need to go take a look. My little joke aside, I wouldn’t say anything in a comment that I wouldn’t say face to face with that person with a thousand people watching. Semi-anonymity seems to bring out the worst in some people.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhhh….Ned is awesome, right?! So are you.
    What a fascinating post and something that has crossed my mind, too. Believe it or not, I’ve adopted Ned’s rules. My hubby reads all the comments on my site as well as other blogs that I comment on. Yes – I can be a bit of a flirt, but nothing that I’d hide from the hubs.
    I’m so sorry that I’ve been away for so long…I love reading your words. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Michelle, you know I adore hearing from you, and today is no different. Yes, we all can have our moments of a little back and forth, but I know that can be done without slithering into the land of cheap, obvious or lascivious. I suppose for some folks that’s more home than not, but I’m sure glad I live where I live. Cheers, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ned is a very smart man & share his logic. Like Mama above, I can be a flirt but this nature is not hidden from my spouse. One can engage in friendly banter whether it is written or in person but there is an appropriate line that should not be crossed if you are in a committed relationship. What a great post Robyn!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Lynn, yeah, I have to agree with you, Ned is smart and very aware of decency. I’ve always admired those traits about him more even than his awesome humour. I was so glad when he said I could use his comments when the others wouldn’t… Anyway, yeah, if the least you can’t offer your significant other is public respect, I think you don’t have a lot going on behind the scenes either.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Robyn, and I appreciate you inviting me to be a part of it. I think it’s important to examine the evolving impact social media is having on how we communicate with one another. Bottom line is that I treat the blog-o-sphere world the same as my everyday life: I adore my wife’s smile and would never want to be the cause of it fading due to feeling hurt or disappointed by me — whether through my actions or words.

    Unless there’s laundry involved, which is an area I have disappointed her in more than once (thanks, bleach…)

    Liked by 2 people

    • You, my friend, could probably get away with multiple bleach incidents. I think Alicia is very aware of where she could have been compared to the insanity, albeit mostly the lovable kind she now shares with you.

      I can’t thank you enough for your thoughts and especially for allowing me to share them. It really added to the post, and hopefully gave some people a real and useful way to look at how to discern going over lines.
      You do earn your fans honestly, Ned. Thanks again.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I have to say it right here — the person who allowed you to quote him is one of the luckiest men alive and a man who I admire, not just out of sheer jealousy. He has a woman who accepts him for who he is, would likely punish him enough to make him punish himself yet forgive him if he ever made a mistake. That’s my perception at least.

    Anyone who tries to justify flirtation of any sorts with someone other than their spouse is making a mistake. It doesn’t matter what form that flirtation takes or whether it is simply written in a blog comment. I’m not going to say that I am perfect, because I am not, and it’s probably what qualifies me to pronounce judgement!

    But I understand why married people flirt, or at least I understand the loneliness that creates the need for attention. Still doesn’t make it right… but….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, trust me, I so hear you when you talk about a level of loneliness within a relationship and the desire to feel a pleasant connection on virtually any level! I’m divorced for a reason. But, yeah, in the end, if you have to go outside of a commitment to feel a little appreciated or seen, it’s really that relationship that needs a second look. Which I learned the hard way too. Bending a value takes as much from the bender as anyone else.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Colour me old-fashioned … I would consider overt flirting disrespectful to my spouse – and to the partner of the person I was flirting with.
    A blog comment is even worse than a casual verbal comment. On the blog, it is there to revisited over and over again indefinitely. Ned’s personal guidelines are very wise.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Alright, old-fashioned, it’s you and me on the same color wheel then. I so agree with you on the blog comments. Whatever was a 5 or 10 minute rush for someone, is definitely a lifetime of ouch for their partners. Great point, Joanne.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s one thing to gently flirt, because that generally makes everyone feel good (unless one has a significant other who gets seriously jealous at you paying attention to anyone else, in which case that makes merely blogging a very dangerous sport). It’s nice to be able to have positive exchanges with other human beings. However I agree that there is a line, and that anything which asks for or results in comments directly based on appearance and/or state of arousal are really over said line, especially when the commenters have a significant other.


    • Thank you, so much, Lou for your comment. I think we are in agreement on these points and I especially appreciate your view given your more unique perch in day to day life from the rest of us. Hugs and great thanks to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a great topic. Fortunately, most of my work doesn’t elicit such responses but sometimes my poetry, being based in the natural romantic processes, is more sensuous. I think what people tend to forget all too easily is that although their words may be written in a fantasy forum, the people they are corresponding with are very real, and not always as they portray themselves. While I like friendly banter and can accept as well as give, a nice compliment, I would not carry on any kind of real provocative flirtation. I am married but I would be more cautious if I was single. Of course, I was never one to get overly friendly with strangers in bars either. Maybe I am just “old”. I agree with Ned. I try to view any comments I leave through the eyes of a significant other ad well as someone who may be “fishing.” I often mention my own husband in comments where I feel this clarity is desirable.


    • Thanks, Dweezer. It is quite a forum for all kinds of fantasy, for sure. You bring up a really great point in that, and even since I wrote this, I’ve been finding out about a shocking number of online affairs and even some odd ignoring of or catering to even mental illnesses in efforts to gain some sort of personal gratification. This could all be a post in itself, but I haven’t yet figured out how I might frame it all – or if I even have the stomach for it.
      Anyway, thanks so much for your comment and thoughts. Really nice addition to everything.


  9. Words are powerful and those of us addicted to words can take them to heart and feel a little flutter now and again. I have fallen in love with writers from their words. I’ll admit that. But I believe touching is never where cheating starts. Taking time, attention, and affection away from your lover and giving it to someone else is an equivalent betrayal to illicit intercourse. I couldn’t live with myself if I tempted a committed person into turning their heart in an outwardly direction. Not everyone is honest about their commitment status, though.


  10. Pingback: Freshly Seen at Jill’s Scene in January – Jill's Scene

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