Physical Affection with Platonic Friends?

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    I feel as if I (female) will need to soon end a new relationship because of my partner’s playfulness and physical affection with his female friends. He does things like tickle, touch, and pull onto his lap his female friends. He says they’re just friends and like family (even those he hasn’t known long…). Because of my feelings for him, I have tried to attribute his behavior (and my confusion and distress over it) to our cultural and even astrological differences.  For those interested in astrology, he is a Gemini and I am a Capricorn. He is from Latin America and I am from a very undemonstrative Midwestern family. For me, even if he sees it as the affection he would show a family member, it takes something away from our relationship. I can’t get my mind around it because I wasn’t raised that way. I see certain physical affection (tickling!) as something special between couples and it takes away from our relationship when he does this with his friends, too. The reason I think I may need to (sadly) end the relationship is that he would see any ultimatum as a restriction on his freedom and I don’t want to do that. Maybe I have to accept we’re just not compatible. I welcome any perspectives on this subject, including how much weight I should give the cultural differences.


    Dear Capricornus:

    Before ending the relationship with him, maybe the problem of him tickling other women and having them sit on his lap be solved. I don’t know if you already talked to him about this: what you told him, in what tone etc., and how he responded (?)

    “The reason I think I may need to (sadly) end the relationship is that he would see any ultimatum”- the way I would present it to him the problem, if I was you, would be to simply tell him how I feel about his behavior, how it troubles you. If he is a decent man who cares for you, he would not want to act in ways that distress you.

    It is not unreasonable for him to stop tickling women and placing them on his lap. It is not like you told him that his need to eat or breathe, or exercise, or rest, or sleep or socialize is distressing you. Tickling women and having them sit on his lap is not a human basic need. It is a form of play that is not necessary: he can socialize with others in plenty of ways that don’t involve physical intimacy of this kind.

    A cultural custom does not make a particular behavior a valid need. A cultural custom is not something that has to be obeyed or a reason to ignore and disrespect a partner’s feelings.

    I will be away from the computer for the next 12 hours or so).




    Dear Capricornus,

    First of all, you can’t just use a person’s sun sign as the whole plate of how they identified as a person. To understand the core of a person, you would need to look into their natal chart.

    Second of all, you have every rights to established your boundaries. Boundaries are the lines of which you draw for your own mental health and comfort. If you don’t like being touch or tickle, then you have every right to ask the person who is touching you to stop. It is not their discomfort that matters in this, it is yours because they are the ones who are choosing to take actions on you, which they should actually be asking if you are okay with being tickle or hug or any actions that encroaches your personal space. It is your personal space and because you have respect for your well being, you tell people that you are uncomfortable and that they need to ceased their actions immediately. Honestly, the world would be a much better place if parents would stop forcing children to hug strangers while strangers and friends alike should ask if people are okay with being hug, tickle, etc.

    And if the other person actually respects you, then they will stop, no questions ask. They will not make excuses like ‘but other people are okay with it’ or ‘it’s just a friendly touch’, etc. Nope, no excuses. You are not other people, you are you and this is how you feel about it. You have made it clear that you are uncomfortable and the other person will respect that and will ceased their actions. If they can’t, then that tells you that they hold their comfort on a higher level than yours and that your words doesn’t matter much to them unless they can do whatever they want. If that happens, you will have to decide whether the friendship is worth the sacrifice of your comfort.

    Good luck.


    Hi Capricornus!

    The reason I think I may need to (sadly) end the relationship is that he would see any ultimatum as a restriction on his freedom and I don’t want to do that.

    This behavior is something I would not like in a relationship either, so I can see how you’re uncomfortable with it. As GL explained above, setting boundaries is necessary and healthy. And as Anita explained, asking your boyfriend to not touch/tickle other women or pull them onto his lap is not an unreasonable boundary to set. Just as you want to be understanding of his culture and upbringing, he also needs to be understanding of yours. Relationships are about compromise, especially when it comes to ending another partner’s reasonable discomfort, and that includes the men having to make changes just as much as the women, even if it restricts their freedom. The only relationships that don’t have at least some form of restriction of freedom are open relationships, so that’s likely something he’s just going to have to learn to deal with or stay single (or perhaps find a doormat for a girlfriend/wife, but he will end up having a very unhappy girlfriend/wife).

    If you’re considering ending the relationship anyway, it would be better and make more sense to just ask him to stop doing that beforehand, and if he refuses, then end the relationship. You never know, he might understand and be willing to compromise. And if not, it won’t matter if he sees the boundary as a restriction on his freedom, because you will be ending the relationship with him anyway.

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