We Don’t Have Anything In Common — Do We Have A Future?
Dear Alison and Tony (or should I call you “Leather and Lace Advice.” I read some of your Q & A pages, your advice is great! I read your post: I’m Bored: All My Live-In Boyfriend Wants to Do is Stay Home and Watch TV, but my situation is a little different. I’ve been dating my boyfriend John for a while. He’s a great guy and I really care for him. We mostly get along well and we have good communication. We both hope to get married someday and have kids. But there is one thing that is worrying me about moving forward. My boyfriend loves television way too much! This wouldn’t bother me if he only watched a few hours a day, but he would watch 8+ hours a day if he could. I think all he needs is some hobbies, but he doesn’t seem to want to do anything either active, or mental. For example, I tried to get him to play board games like Scrabble, but he got very bored and couldn’t finish a game. We like our boat, but the weather has been so bad that we can’t use it, so John sits on the couch and watches TV all weekend. In Winter, we like to ski, but we can’t get away very often to do it, so he sits on the couch all weekend as well. When we go to my mom’s house for Sunday dinner (nearly every week), my boyfriend just lies on the couch while the rest of us stand around talking or eating at the table. It is embarrassing and extremely anti-social. My parents have mentioned it, of course. In every relationship there is good with the bad, but I am really wondering if we are right for one another since we don’t really have any interests in common. In fact, we don’t even like the same TV shows! Every time I try to get him to do something with me (e.g. go to a fireworks show, go on the rides at an amusement park), he either refuses to go, or gets bored and tries to get us to leave, ruining it for me. I am a Civil Engineer and when I’m not working I like excitement. John is in construction and has to run up and down ladders and carry tools, and he also likes to go to the gym and work out. But he doesn’t seem to have any other interests. When he’s not at work or at the gym, he simply won’t move. He doesn’t seem depressed, and maybe he is just lazy. He doesn’t seem to have one creative bone in his body, but I know he needs something else in his life besides work, gym and the couch. I really want our relationship to work, so can you suggest hobbies we can both enjoy or that he could do on his own, to get him off the couch and out of the house? We both need a life!
Alison’s Take: Re-read your own letter, and ask yourself: what do these two have in common? Alison and Tony (or you can call us Leather and Lace if you prefer) can tell that you’re not yet married, and John is already boring you to tears. Even if you get him off the couch and engage him in a hobby, you’re not going to change his personality. If you want a social life, some adventure and someone special to share these with, John doesn’t seem like a good candidate.
Some people aren’t stimulated by daily activities and have little capacity to create new interests. Some might say John is lazy, but he could possibly be depressed, or very tired. Does he even get up enough energy for sex?! As long as John sits and watches TV, he doesn’t have to think, and he can both insulate and isolate himself from everything –even you. But that also makes John crushingly dull. Why are you with this guy? Could it be that you are “comfortable” and you don’t want to be alone? If so, you’re deluding yourselves. Both of you are leading (and will continue to lead) solitary lives.
When you are looking for a long term relationship, it is essential to look clearly at the positive and negative. If you want an interesting life with a partner that wants to share it with you, how are you going to find it with a man whose conversation is limited to (“please pass the remote, and that bowl of chips“)?
In John’s defense, he does physical work and works out hard at the gym. But he isn’t working hard on pleasing you. He has an addiction to television, that is obvious. It doesn’t seem likely that you are going to change John’s behavior, significantly. YOU are the one who will need to change if you want this relationship to survive. Instead of sitting inside with your couch potato boyfriend being resentful and bored, realize that you are going to have to spend most of your time alone or with friends, without him. That would be a relationship deal breaker for many people, but maybe not for you. Many couples do lead very separate lives, especially if they have very little in common. But they still create some intimate connections that satisfy and sustain them. For now, if you decide that you want a future with John, I have three words: “Just Go Out!” Meet friends, or do things you like to do on your own. There is no reason to stay trapped with John in his self-imposed prison. Alison and Tony agree that you’re not well matched however. There are plenty of other fish in the sea, Confused..go fishing!
Tony’s take: Boredom is the great killer of relationships and without a makeover this one will eventually fail. Shared positive experiences are what build the good feelings and good memories that get us over the bad times in any relationship. Worse, constantly watching TV alone kills creativity and makes a person dull, because their brain is being anestheticized as opposed to being stimulated. There is a simple test for you — do you have a dog? If he pays attention to the dog, plays with the dog and gives it affection, then he can be saved. (As much as I love cats, a dog is a better indicator of how well he is prepared to take on the responsibility of children).
If he loves children and will care for them, then the children will save him since children are a constant source of new experiences.
Sadly with the way he interacts with your family and his unwillingness to try new things, there is little hope. You need to find someone who will be a good father for your children and this guy is probably not the one. Remember your eggs are not getting any fresher!