Dear Leather and Lace: My boyfriend and I moved in together after we graduated from college, and we’ve been living together now for two years. At first we went out and partied with friends, but now we don’t seem to get out of the house anymore. All we do every evening and weekends is sit on the couch and watch television, play video games, and have sex. We both enjoy these activities, but I am growing very bored with my life, and with my boyfriend. I have discussed my feelings, but he just doesn’t seem to think we have a problem. I am 22 (my boyfriend is 25). We both have good jobs, and neither of us really should be that stressed out. I’d like to get married and start a family some day. My boyfriend just seems happy to spend the rest of his life sitting on the couch. I want to take the next steps, but I’m beginning to wonder if this is all there is and I don’t know how to move things forward. Can you help?
Signed, Carol, the Couch Potato’s Companion
Lace’s Take on This: Carol, staying home, watching television, and having sex …it’s a man’s dream! Men are naturally lazy when it comes to relationships (sorry guys, but you know it’s the truth)! There are exceptions, but many men feel that once they’ve pursued a woman and they’ve snagged her, they don’t feel that they have to try as hard (or at all) anymore. Having sex and watching TV are two lovely things to do at home, but if that’s all you do, it doesn’t feel so “special” after a while.
There is a widespread, if misguided, assumption that once in a committed relationship, there is no reason to behave as if you were still a “dating couple.” Settling in doesn’t mean giving up. No one wants to be taken for granted! Women need and want romance and attention. When we don’t get it, we whither like last months’ Valentine’s bouquet. The thing is, men don’t automatically “know” what women want. When they do know, they’re usually willing to supply it to keep us happy. Your boyfriend may be very passive, or just very tired but he might actually be a bit clueless about what makes you happy because he is satisfied as things stand. You might not be sending him the messages he needs to hear in a way that he can process them, either. Two men can spend an entire day fishing, playing sports, or watching television and never utter a single word more than “Need another beer?” They connect, but not always in the same intense, intimate ways that appeal to women.
You didn’t mention any other real conflicts, so the chances are that your boyfriend can and will meet your needs as long as he doesn’t have to work to figure out the “what” and the how.” But you are the one who will have to get him going.
The first thing to do is just to find new ways to enjoy each others’ company, without threatening or nagging him. Couples still had fun before there was television and they didn’t just jump each other’s bones day and night for entertainment, either. Could you invite friends over to play some games, or just for conversation? Get him involved in a dance or cooking class so both of you can share something new? How about reading (erotic stories) to one another? The point is just to break your routine,and start doing other things.
Tonight, it’s all about breaking your boring pattern. As cheesy at it sounds, cover the TV with a scarf, or close the media center doors. If you get home first, light some candles, set a nice table (no eating in front of the TV) and entice him to dine by candlelight, just the two of you sitting face to face. Get him to talk about things, but not the serious “where are we going in our lives?” discussion (save that for later on down the road). Focus on things that are of interest to him (even if these are not your favorite topics) and stay focused on him, so he wants to engage in the discussion. If things are going well, you might slip in a few new ideas of activities you could do together, and if he seems receptive, you are the one who follows through and makes those plans. Or, just make the plans and surprise him.
More troubling is the fact that after two years of living with this man, you’re already bored with the relationship and your partner doesn’t seem to be sharing your dreams and goals. If you can’t even see eye to eye on lifestyle, how are you going to negotiate the larger issues such as getting married, or being parents? If your boyfriend is truly happy to be just where he is, and has made no mention or move towards the marriage and family you say you want, you really need to ask yourself:”Is this the type of man and the type of life I envision for the long term?” The answer may not be to motivate him but to motivate yourself to find someone who is better suited, to you!
Leather’s Take on This: There are several issues here, lets try to pick them apart.
First, both of you are young and this is not the lifestyle someone in their early 20s should have adopted. The decade of the 20s especially the early 20s , is the time when you should be exploring new relationships, new people and new places. You have not only sacrificed your one chance to see the world but you have effectively time frozen both of you and your partner’s emotional growth and intellectual maturity.
Second, most guys are not mature until they are 30. Even the exceptional ones are not mature until they are 27 (and your guy is younger than this). He doesn’t know how to have a real relationship, and at this point is treating you more like a sister he shares the house with rather than a lover and a partner. He has never had to work at wooing or romancing you (or anyone else for that matter),Hhe has never had to make a relationship work and remain vital.
Life is about experiences, and relationships are about shared experiences. People in a relationship need to share experiences to keep the relationship from getting boring. Both should talk about work and people in their individual lives in order that the experiences of then other person becomes part of their lives enriching it. You need to do things together, both planned and unplanned. Weekend trips must be planned and then actually taken. You need to go shopping together and talk about what you are buying or hope to be buying someday. You need to build up a reservoir of positive shared experiences because you will eventually need them to get over the rough parts in any relationship.
When you are sitting on the couch watching television, you are being two separate people in one apartment, roommates, not a couple. This is why smart couples (or even friends) watch programs like Downton Abbey because they TALK about the episode, the characters, the situations. By discussing it they come to a shared experience (look at going to a movie with friends, it is to share the experience and discuss it, you see it as soon as it comes out so that when others see it you already have your opinions and comments ready).
As far as going out is concerned, friends you have as a single do not work when you are a couple. You need to find other couples to be friends with and to go do things with and share experiences with. In the interim YOU need to be proactive, to plan things to do, to get you both out of the house (note to guys – it is normally YOUR responsibility for suggesting and organizing weekend trips and vacations, she will feel better if you suggest and she gets to modify). Also even though you are a couple you should go out with your single female friends at least once a week and you should convince him to do likewise.
Boredom is the single biggest killer in a relationship and if you are bored now it is not going to last five years much less the average seven years before it blows up. You have to be best friends, you have to want to do things with the other person, if you do not fix this it will affect your sex life (and bad sex does not get better with time).
Lace’s Comments on Leather’s Answer: Leather brings up lots of good points that you’d be wise to consider. The only thing I might say is that I know plenty of men who never really do grow up. They are still juvenile in thoughts, actions and outlook their entire lives, even though they look like grown men. They can make a partner’s life, quite frustrating because the more mature partner is always the one who has to be understanding and in control. Even a mature person can sometimes lose it and act like a child, but if your partner always does, it gets very tiresome. Your boyfriend is still young, but based on what you told us, he kind of fits the “Peter Pan” profile. Be wary!