Making Friends With Boredom

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)?

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15 Responses to Making Friends With Boredom

  1. BCAinNC says:

    I am in the same camp as you and your friend Jason—for me, routine is death. I was married for 2 years (then widowed unexpectedly) and lived with a man for 8 years. While there were some really nice parts to co-habitating, I have to say I am much happier being single and/or living alone. Though I do enjoy being in a relationship, at age 45 I can finally admit to myself (and be OK with it) that I HATE living with someone, except my dog. The routine of the day-to-day ruins it for me and there are just some things about my partner that I could live the rest of my life without knowing (hello morning routine and weird bathroom rituals, gross man-hair clogging up my shower…). I love the regular sleep overs, but I also love waking up by myself in my own bed and doing whatever I want to do, when I want to do it and not having to negotiate anything with anybody. I will happily stay someone’s girlfriend for the rest of my life but I have no plans to ever re-marry or co-habitate again. As one of my very good male friends like to say–“Live close, visit often”–that seems to be the answer to a happy relationship for me!

  2. Madeline says:

    I have to question whether these guys complaining of boredom are really bored with their marriages or just bored with their lives in general. Maybe they need to take the initiative to liven things up and expose themselves to some new interest or activity – with their spouse or independently.

  3. Ms.Sasser says:

    I don’t know that men, or women, need to learn to tolerate boredom, I think that’s the wrong approach. All successful relationships have trust, without that, it’s never going to work. Based off one of my best friends marriages, they look at it as a partnership (that’s really what it is, no?!). They have his time, her time and family time. As long as work schedules permit, he or she, is welcome to say “Honey, I was thinking I’d catch a few drinks with the guys/girls tonight” and the other usually encourages them to do so. This is not something that’s taken advantage of however; allows them to have spontaneity in the relationship. Yes, they have three beautiful children under the age of 10 and still manage to make this happen. I’ve never been married however; if I were to, I would need a similar arrangement (which would be easier as I do not have, nor want, children).

    On the other hand, I too, love waking up on a Saturday morning wondering what I’ll get in to, or not, that day. I love the fact I can just up and go out to dinner or, decide to stay home and have wine and cheese as my third meal, it’s up to me, my choice. At the ripe old age of 42, I don’t know that I could ever change that so, when I do date, I need a guy who has a life of his own so he’s not dragging me to crap I have no interest in.

    As Smokie said, couples need to be independently dependent!

  4. Aniyo says:

    Please know that it is not my purpose to offend anyone, but I am seriously thinking about leaving this site.
    Why (the articles) is it always about what or who is better…married or single folks, with the single folks always being better, happier, more content, etc?
    Why can’t you talk about the single life without bashing the married life? ONE IS NO BETTER THAN THE OTHER! Each situation has it’s own advantages and disadvantages, and for the most part it’s what you make of it.
    I joined this site for inspiration and support of me being single, but not to constantly hear how awful, boring, unhappy, being less than, etc., that married people are. I know PLENTY of married couples that are happy, content, deeply in love after many, many years of being married, and they will tell you in a heartbeat, that they would NOT trade their journey in being married to each other for ANYTHING.
    You don’t like when people are always wondering if something is wrong with you because you aren’t married or have kids by a certain age, but you do the same thing by putting up articles that make it seem that all married people are more unhappy, or have the worse situation than singles. I think that you are a great person, with an awesome personality, and from what little that I have seen and know…please…I know you can do better.

    • Nissa says:

      While I would very much agree with you that life is what you make of it, I can tell you that you might not be getting the whole picture from your happy, content, deeply in love couples. When I was married, I was mostly happy, content, and deeply in love with the man I married. My spouse was not happy, not content and didn’t even like me anymore. So someone’s view of our marriage would have been very different depending on whom you asked. I would have told you how happy I was because I was living the life I wanted to live. My spouse was not happy because he was not living the life he wanted to live. This does not make anyone wrong or mean marriage in general is bad. I think what many of us are saying is that, having experienced or viewed that situation, that the benefits do not exceed the constraints in many cases. However, the likelihood that someone will be fully honest about that is small, since it then calls into question their choices. People also sometimes are not saying they would make the same choice a second time, but rather that they grew as a person due to that journey, and they have an appreciation for that growth.
      But it is good that you put forth your view, so that a through and lively discussion is enjoyed by all.

    • Eleanore says:

      Hi, Aniyo: No offense taken. We welcome all points of view here. I do have a different take on this, though. I try to make it a point to cover all aspects of “Spinsterlicious living”. Sometimes we make fun of married people, sometimes we make fun of ourselves, sometimes being single is great, sometimes it sucks. If you’re a long-time, reader, I think you’ll see that there’s a balance here. I don’t think either option in the married vs single conversation is better, they’re just different. There are pros and cons to both. I do aim to encourage women to celebrate whatever life stage they’re in, so we may tilt a bit toward the single side

    • Aniyo, I think you have either missed many articles or are thinking with a narrow mind. Eleanor’s articles praise the pros and cons of both situations; married and singled. Now maybe because she is single there is a bit more info pertaining to single life, duh that is what the blog is about, but she gives lots of good feedback about married relationships and never fails to repeat it is just not the life she chooses. I have been married and now single and love and hate many things about both. Nothing is one way, it’s always a two-way street. Even if you don’t agree with something you can appreciate and maybe even learn from different perspectives. You ask the question on why articles are what or who is better, but in order to have a good conversation you need to explore both sides. I never heard that one is better than the other, she only gives different sides to different situations. Aunt danny

  5. Janine says:

    I suspect when men say stuff like “I miss the spontaneity”, they often mean “I miss not knowing which woman I’m going to bed Saturday night”. Hence the popularity of extramarital affairs. I read an article recently on ashleymadison, the “dating” site that caters for people who want to have an affair. It’s doing well, by all reports, and the men in the article offered up such reasons as boredom in their marriage. Marriage is comfortable but not everyone is cut out to tolerate boredom and predictability. I’m one of those people, which is one of the many reasons I remain single. Part of me, of course, always does want that security – women tend to crave security – but when I get home at night or up out of bed on Saturday morning, I can honestly, hand on heart, say I love doing whatever the hell I want, watching whatever I want to watch, cooking whatever I want to cook. It’s only when I wander up the road and see all those happy couples sharing their Big Breakfast together or walking hand in hand I suddenly feel any sense of loss. But then I continue up the road and drop in to all the shops I want to go to without some bored-looking dude with me wishing he was watching footy or drinking beer (why DO women drag their men out shopping?), and the feeling of loss quickly passes. Sorry, marrieds, I’d rather be single!

  6. Nissa says:

    Hmm. Interesting thought. I was married for 8 years, together for 14. I was never bored. Now, in my mind, this is for 2 reasons. One, I am personally a very unpredictable person. I always get comments like “you are so interesting!” or “I just never know what’s going to come out of your mouth”. I don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth either most of the time, so it’s both surprising and entertaining. Two, I made a distinct effort in my marriage to not book us into events that I knew my husband would hate. I can’t think of a single man that looks forward to weddings, book club, spa day, kid birthday parties, christenings, baby showers etc but I have seen many friends drag their husbands to these things…then get surprised when their husband “disappears” when it’s time to plan the weekend. I would hope ladies would support their husbands in his “friend time”, whether it’s playing hoops, watching the sports game of the day, Guitar Hero playoffs or whatever they need to do in the man cave. As long as he’s not off at girly bars, you’re good.
    It sounds to me like your friend just needs to have “free time” on the schedule. His girl would know when he was unavailable, which makes her happy because she can plan her non-man events like spa days. Her man is happy because he gets time to be spontaneous. Best of both worlds, no?

    Last, I think Jason’s friends are right about living alone. Even when you are dating, a woman won’t make too many comments about your space because it’s not technically hers. But as soon as you share a house, beware – it’s quite likely you will be held to a standard not your own. I believe shared space should have 3 sections – yours, mine and ours. Rooms other people see are “ours” that have to conform to the highest standard between the two of you. Maid service may need to be involved. Mine – my bathroom, my side of the bedroom, etc – only have to conform to my standard – not yours. Your side – only has to conform to your standard. Similarly, scheduling “me time” allows you to have time that only conforms to your standards, your needs. By doing so, you get to remain the person, the individual, that they fell in love with in the first place.

  7. Linda says:

    Not sure that’s a fair assessment to be honest; yes you can fall into routine in a relationship, as much as you can if you’re single though. The effort must be made in either case. And while I’ve not been in a 15 year relationship, the one I’m in is like Smokie’s – non constricting in the least. No kids involved, that probably changes the equation.

  8. smokie says:

    Honestly, I was noticeably more bored when I was single. Is that because I’m a homebody and a relationship kind of girl? Probably. The hubby introduced more adventure into my life and now I have a partner to do all of the wild and crazy things I didn’t feel comfortable (or safe) doing as a single woman. But that’s MY personality type. So, for me, marriage is not dull. It’s rather exciting and liberating because I married a man whom I enjoy.

    My husband and I are “independently dependent”. I love the fact that I have the freedom to stay up all night writing in my office, chatting with friends, having a cocktail in my backyard, or partying it up. I love knowing that at any moment, I can pause whatever I’m doing and curl up under my husband – or hop on a plane with him to visit a city we’ve never explored.

    I think a person really has to know who they are before they decide to marry or remain single. If a person chooses to marry, he/she should choose wisely: your personalities, values, morals, and goals MUST align! If so, marriage should enhance rather than stifle. I admit that I took a chance when I married at 34. I didn’t know if I could settle down; I imagined that boredom would set in and that I’d miss dating around. But, so far, so good. It’s been five years and I’m happier and more excited than I’ve ever been.

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