The other day, I had a fascinating conversation with a long- time friend. Jason is a confirmed bachelor in his 50s. Until recently, my question to him was always “who are you dating now”, because there was always someone new. But things have changed. He’s been dating the same woman for two years and he’s in love. It’s serious this time. And he is happy.
So imagine how surprised I was when our conversation about his relationship took a bit of a left turn. We went from how nice it is to be in this great relationship, to him becoming a bit more pensive. He mentioned that all of his married friends envy him. They tell him “don’t get married if you can avoid it.” These guys are all happily married but they feel as if Jason has the best of all worlds: a woman he loves, a good and stable relationship AND he lives alone. He said that his married friends talk about the sameness that comes with being married. The routine is both comforting and stifling.
Even though I know he’s happy in his relationship, I asked Jason if he misses anything about being single-and-unattached. He said, “yeah, I miss the spontaneity”. He went on to say “even though it’s just Thursday, I already know everything I…we are going to do this weekend. They are things that I enjoy and I enjoy doing them with her but there will be no surprises.”
He said that’s what he misses about his single days: doing whatever he wants, and the excitement that comes with not always knowing what’s going to happen next. The upside, for example, is not knowing yet who you’ll go out with on Saturday night and the anticipation of what’s to come. The downside, of course, is that sometimes the answer to that is “no one”. And there’s the occasional loneliness. But, for him being single-and-unattached was rarely boring.
It reminds me of a Chris Rock routine: “single people are lonely, married people are bored.” Jason says that in order to make a relationship work, a man has to learn to tolerate boredom.
I get that. This sentiment is not true for everyone, though. I know that structure and routine within the context of a relationship spells safety and stability and even comfort to many people. I’m more in Jason’s camp, though. I, too, shudder at routine …which is why I’m sitting here writing a blog post tonight, instead of sitting on the couch watching tv with my husband…again. A psychologist-friend once told me that I liken my relationships to dessert, where most (smart) married people think of them as the main course. Maybe.
At any rate, I am curious to know what others think. Does a man have to learn to tolerate boredom if his relationship is to work? Is this also true for women (other than me)?