If you have kids, then you’re likely to be familiar with the expression, “I’m bored.” Wether it’s spurred you into action, coming up with different ideas to entertain your children, or you’ve preferred to let them figure things out on their own, it probably felt like a normal part of parenting.
However, when it comes to adults or relationships, the idea of being bored can feel a bit taboo.
But what does it mean to be bored in a relationship?
In relationships, boredom is often the term used to name a negative, ambiguous feeling. It’s the easier way of expressing ourselves or verbalizing anguish when we are not sure what is going on, don’t want to know, or refuse to dig deeper. “Maybe I’m just bored” is what we tell ourselves when we sense something is not right in our relationship, and that statement is often accompanied by confusion, sadness, hopelessness, and other such emotions. It might even present alongside feelings of grief for what we perceive to be the end of our relationship or even lead to affairs.
There is a difference between settling down and settling.
Why are we so hesitant to talk about it?
Perhaps we feel guilty – guilty of somehow hurting our partner’s feelings by insinuating that they are the cause of boredom. Or we feel ashamed – ashamed of not being in control of our feelings as an adult. Or we feel afraid – afraid of our partner’s reaction, afraid of altercation, or afraid of where this could take the relationship. Will we open a Pandora’s Box that can’t be closed again? Are some things better left unsaid?
The risk here, as you probably have already discovered, is a life of bottled-up emotions, of snapping at the waiter who brought you the wrong drink, or of lashing out at your partner over small things.
The bottom line is this: It takes courage to tell your partner that you are bored and to find the strength to sit down in front of them and say that in a constructive way.
What can we do about it?
A common mistake couples make when they feel bored is to try to add more entertainment to their relationship, jumping to recommendations like spending more time together, going out on dinner dates, even taking trips, just to discover that this is only a temporary solution to a deeper problem.
Instead, try to break down the issue into digestible points that you can tackle little by little. One way to do this is by journaling. As a simple first exercise, write down what you do in a day, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep without skipping anything. Look for those feelings of boredom – when do they come up, what are you normally doing at that time, how does your partner factor in?
If you find yourself stuck in a loop or are having difficulties achieving progress, seek help. Find a therapist you can trust and feel comfortable opening up to. Couples’ therapy is a healthy way of working through conflict that you are not able to handle alone, but it is all the more effective when paired with individual work. Indeed, when both partners are open to working on themselves in addition to working on the relationship, powerful change can happen. I have seen first-hand the shift in a relationship that occurs when even just one person embarks on a journey of healing that includes self-help or therapy of any kind.
I have also found hypnotherapy to be an amazing tool to help you figure out what lies beneath the surface of your conscious mind. You will be amazed by what you might discover or rediscover.
In addition to that, here are some tips to follow to prevent boredom from creeping into your relationship.
Don’t always say yes.
Going with the flow and accommodating your partner all the time in order to avoid conflict and discussions is not a good idea. Over time, this will only build up frustration and resentment within you. Discussions and disagreements can actually be exciting and informative, and they are part of the growth of a relationship.
Don’t get too comfortable in your routine.
While a routine is essential for creating a system and order in a unit, shaking things up from time to time is also necessary to avoid stagnation. Discovering new places and hobbies together, for example, is exciting. If your partner doesn’t agree to join you on this adventure, do it alone or with a friend. Don’t just reluctantly drop it because your partner is not interested.
Find your own thing.
Although finding a common hobby and things to do together is amazing, it is equally important to find things to do on your own, outside of the marriage context, whether that is a career, a hobby, a sport, an outing with friends, or anything else that feels personal to you and does not involve your partner directly. Over dinner, update each other on your projects and new discoveries. It’ll make for great conversation.
On the other hand, if you spend a lot of time apart because of your careers or because you live in different cities, then finding the time to do something together is essential. Dedicating time to your partner is as important as dedicating time for yourself and vice versa. Balance is key.
Don’t give up on your dreams.
If you have unaccomplished dreams, projects, or an education that was put on hold because of your marriage or family, set the goal of a convenient date to take it back on. If the time is not right for now, schedule it for later, talk about it with your partner, and explain how important it is for your personal growth and therefore for your relationship. There is a difference between settling down and settling. Do not give up on your dreams just because you have settled down. Above all, do not lose your identity or confuse it with your partner’s.
Don’t take your relationship for granted just because you’re married.
Every now and then, think of your partner as this new person you’d like to impress. Put an effort as you would have done when you first started dating. This is the person you’ve decided to spend the rest of your life with, and they are worth the effort.