I read like 50 books a year, and one of my favorites of 2018 was Samantha Irby’s “We Are Never Meeting In Real Life” (and recommend it, obviously.)
In it, she talks about her relationship by saying,
“I’m in love and it’s boring.”
Right on, sister.
Too often, we think love is supposed to be manic
People celebrate “losing themselves,” and “falling” for someone; they get tossed and turned like they have no say in the matter; they let themselves get pulled emotionally willy nilly and chalk it up as “passion.”
“Relationships take work,” we tell ourselves. But we’ve misconstrued what that “work” is supposed to mean.
“Boring” is better than “impassioned,” and while most great relationships have a blend of both, forced to choose, we should readily take the former.Consistently warm is far more hospitable than hot and cold for long-term emotional wellbeing.
Boring is beautiful
By “boring,” I mean stability, consistency, reliability. We can hang our hat on these things; we can only build on a solid, unwavering foundation.
GREATNESS IS BUILT WITH CONSISTENCY
As true for relationships as it is for anything.
Weight loss happens with countless little daily decisions, not binging and purging. Building a company happens in the millions of micro-moments, not landing — and losing — That One Big Client. It’s a lot easier to engineer a solution around consistent variables — regardless of what they are.
When a partner (or the relationship) is up, down, hot, cold, ecstatic, pissed, etc., we spend far too much time managing their feelings and not enough time actually building the relationship.
I can’t do anything with an erratic partner. (I know this because I had one once — okay, twice — and it was simply unworkable.)
GREATNESS IS BUILT WITH AGENCY AND TAKING RESPONSIBILITY
If we approach love with healthy hearts, we don’t complain of “boredom” with our partners, because we understand that they are not here to amuse, distract, or otherwise entertain us. Their lives are not fuel for our amusement, they are not here simply to delight and distract.
We are responsible for our own emotional wellbeing.
GREATNESS IS BUILT WITH EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Emotionally healthy people do not chase “romance” and put on exaggerated displays. Emotionally healthy people can lap at the edge of excess; they are satiated on healthy displays of love alone. They understand that real, healthy love is in the every day little shit — remembering the dry cleaning; a hug; a word of encouragement before the big meeting — and they don’t require, nor do they have any real appetite for, the showy shit that’s “shareable” on social media.
GREATNESS IS BUILT IN THE EVERYDAY, NOT THE FEW EXCITING MOMENTS
Great relationships, like anything, are built in the everyday. They don’t simply endure the everyday to just get to the next vacation or fun outing, just like great work doesn’t simply endure the work week to get to the weekend.Relationships are built in the “white space” of life; they are the everyday. So what we do with that time makes or breaks us.
Every moment we spend with our loved one is precious and invaluable. That’s where the relationship lives or dies. And a lot of those everyday moments are, for the most part, boring.
That 80 year old couple holding hands in the park is sharing “boring.” They got there one day at a time.
Impassioned is dangerous
By “impassioned” I mean excitement, excess, extremes. Romantic hedonism — new restaurants, gifts, travel, grandiose displays or constant reassurance or lofty, poetic declarations of love. If you want great love, these should make you want to run.
Bustle put out an article on “17 things to do when you get bored in your relationship.”
I’ll save you a read, because there aren’t “17” things to do. There’s only one thing to do, and it’s: “take responsibility for your own life and understand that it’s not your partner’s job to entertain you.”
There is, of course, a real benefit of trying new things and going to new places as a couple — but only if done with a calm heart, and never with the anxious frenzy to “do something!”
When we chase romance and excitement, we do to “love” what porn does to sex.
I can appreciate a sentimental surprise as much as the next girl, but nothing turns me off more than empty romantic gestures for the sake of the gesture. Given the choice, I’d rather take a dude who never does anything “romantic”but is stable and emotionally-secure every day.
“Passion” is dangerous to hang our hearts on because it fades away. It must either be doggedly pursued and constantly refueled, or it runs the risk of exposing the realization that there’s nothing underneath. Love built on frenzied pursuits leaves us fatigued and washed up, looking at each other at the end of our ropes, frustrated that we “can’t come up with anything else to do.”
In good love, there’s nothing “to do” except love one another. Every day. And it doesn’t depend on how we feel, because good, healthy love doesn’t hinge on our feelings; it’s a choice. Every day.
Good love looks and feels “boring”
Real, healthy love is quiet, not loud. It is calm, not frenzied. It is solid and stable, not flighty or fickle.
As Irby wrote,
“Real love… it’s not a game you don’t understand the rules of, or a test you never got the materials to study for. It never leaves you wondering… what you could possibly do to make it come home and stay there. It’s fucking boring, dude. I don’t walk around mired in uneasiness, waiting for the other shoe to drop… This feels safe and steadfast and predictable and secure. It’s boring as shit. And it’s easily the best thing I’ve ever felt.”
Good love is just the everyday — every day.