On the surface, complaining about boredom can seem trivial in the great scheme of relationship things.
Except it isn’t, and it’s slowly driving you insane.
Initially, it feels like a small but steadily growing avalanche of generalized anxiety. As this state of stagnancy continues, and the weeks turn into months, it can grow into something far larger, far more complex and far more difficult to define.
What was once merely a small relationship qualm is now — almost inexplicably — hammering away at your connection and romance. Resentment slowly mounts, attachment slowly fades, and before you know it you are seriously considering whether or not you’d be better off seeking greener pastures. Anything but this grey-area.
Ouch. Well, perhaps I’m being overly dramatic. But then again, perhaps not (yet). So what’s going on, and what can we do about it?
Emotions In Constant Motion
Diagnosing the root cause of boredom is important because I feel that there are scenarios where chronic boredom is actually the symptom of a fundamental conflict in ways of living, and thus something of a ticking time bomb as far as the relationship itself is concerned. Of course, most of the time the outlook is not quite so dire (and nor is my opinion), so for the time being I’ll sheath my sword of brutal objectivity.
Ideally, a functional relationship should bounce slightly between over and under confidence, but never settle in either direction, nor exist in either pole. If relationship confidence trends too strongly, here’s what usually happens:
- Neediness and feelings of desperation.
- Desire for increased control.
- Manipulation aimed at eliciting a favorable response (self-victimization)
- Taking partner/relationship for granted.
- Forgetting the value of communication.
- Increased distance.
While this oscillation between this two poles can seem unhealthy, I would personally argue that it isn’t as bad as it looks.
But here’s the catch, it isn’t patently unhealthy so long as the slider between under and over-confidence keeps moving, and that neither direction comes to dominate the other.
While either direction, at its extreme, will cause the relationship to fall apart, what I feel tends to be over-looked when it comes to monitoring our relationships is the danger that occurs when the bar stops sliding. Even if it stops sliding at a point which is perfectly equidistant between the two poles, because guess what happens next?
That’s right, boredom.
Okay. So Now What?
If I’m at least partly right at about my perspective on boredom (and it bears remembering that this remains a highly subjective opinion, and not a scientific fact), then fixing the relationship ought to be a question of kick-starting the slider again.
In short, we need something that will force you and your partner to refresh the relationship page and re-evaluate what’s being taken for granted (and personally, this is something that should be done periodically, boredom or not). Here are a few ideas:
- Take some time off – Organize a solo holiday, even if it is just a weekend-long solitary Netflix bonanza at a local three-star hotel. Not only is self-indulging fun, it is also a fantastic way for our partners to remember what it’s like without us around and re-evaluate what we mean to them.
- Do something absolutely out of character – Surprise yourself, surprise your partner. Try something new. Do something which breaks all routine and stereotype. The main reason I urge this isn’t so much to prove a point, but to disdainfully slap away the notion that relationship traits are set in stone. If you want a different kind of relationship there’s no reason you can’t get there by taking a short cut. If change doesn’t pan out favorably, at the very least you will know what this relationship’s boundaries really are.
- Stop negotiating on important stuff – We all have things that are sacred to our well-being. Occasionally, in the name of a peaceful co-existence, we can trade away things which are important or fun to us. While a little negotiation can go a long way (co-existence demands some personal sacrifice), if we give too much away we can end up in a situation where we are chronically drained of energy and drive without realizing why. This goes for our partners too. If our partners seem to be lifeless and distant, this may very well be why.
- Tell them how you feel – If you haven’t already, telling your partner how you feel might come as a surprise to them. Boredom is subjective, and thus there is a chance that they are unaware of your plight and are experiencing this plateau differently then you are.
There is only so much you can do to affect a relationship. Perhaps communicating your feelings have the undesired effect of making your partner defensive or resentful. Perhaps taking time-off will make your partner realize that they need more of it for themselves. Perhaps your refusal to negotiate on something which is important will cause your partner to respond spitefully.
Whatever the case may be, it bears realizing that while these outcomes aren’t desirable, they are nevertheless personally empowering because they paint an honest picture of your relationship’s boundaries that transcend both doubt and over-analysis, allowing you to make better decisions regarding the future of your relationship.
Speaking of which…
While boredom on it’s own isn’t the biggest problem in the world, it is made infinitely worse if the relationship is given too much weight in the great scheme of things. I’m not saying relationships aren’t important, it might justifiably be the most important aspect of your life, but it nevertheless remains a single aspect of your life. Given how all-encompassing some relationships are, it can be incredibly easy to lose sight of this!
Never forget that positively influencing the other aspects of your life (such as your friends, hobbies and work) will indirectly improve your relationship, because they all contribute to improving your life, and consequently who you are.
Most of the time bouts of boredom will tend to fix themselves given enough space and time, and thus having other existential aspects to work with can greatly help to de-stress tense romantic situations, at least on your end. Which, I’m sure we can all agree, happens to be the only end you will ever have any real control over. The power to make ourselves less bored, outside and independently of our relationship.