I’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