Do you come home and feel bored?
He starts to talk and you know what he’s going to say before he says it, and you wish he just stopped. She seems to always need to be validated when it’s not really necessary. And, you begin to wonder if there isn’t someone better out there.
Boredom can mean many things in a relationship.
When Love Fades: It could be that the rush of love is over and you realize who he really is, and that you’re simply not compatible. Or, you may be triggered to withdraw from her (icy intimacy); and yet the problem may be you and not her.
Love is a crazy state of being. It creates a field, not unlike those found in physics, called the field of intimacy. Once in the field, your yearnings come to the surface, and often with great intensity. This rush of hormones, longing and wish fulfillment gets concretized in lovemaking and the imaginings of a future together.
Then, the field lightens and you see her for who she is. If you are lucky (and healthy) you fall in love again; but this time with a real person. Too many lovers wake up disappointed or criticised. In cases like this, you grow bored because you realize you have little in common with him or her. This is a legitimate reason to consider calling things off.
The Wounds of Childhood: It may be hard to believe, but growing tired of your partner or spouse can have its roots in a damaged childhood. Perhaps, you didn’t receive the attention you craved from your parents. You were invisible in their eyes and felt out of favor, believing that your siblings were your parents’ pride and joy. You protected yourself by finding comfort in solitude.
Naturally, you carry resentment into relationships with others, including a lover. The experience of intimacy along with your damaged childhood causes you to distance yourself. You would rather be alone than risk being close to someone.
Or, you were idealized by adoring parents. The early idealization of love worked just fine, but when she stopped seeing you as the center of her universe, you recoiled. Instead of accepting a more adult relationship, you stew in outrage. Psychologically, you distance yourself, and it is expressed as boredom. You ask yourself: why should I bother with a partner who doesn’t meet all my needs?
Boredom can have many roots, and not all come from a damaged childhood.
Destructive Power Struggles: Think about couples that relentlessly engage in tiresome power struggles. Do you and your partner argue too much?
Consider the following. Do you fight about money, or turning off the lights at night, or who wakes up when the baby’s crying, or the way she dresses or his bad manners?
A relationship is a reverberating circuit and when a positive vibe flows, more positivity comes about. I want to do things for you given how supported you make me feel. On, the other hand, a negative feedback loop can kill a relationship. If you are not going to do things for me, why should I put myself out for you?
Boredom can be a defense. Your mind doesn’t want to deal with anger, disappointment or hurt, so you block emotions and feel bored. Leaving important things unsaid for too long can end with two bored people living parallel lives, each dreaming of a more happy life elsewhere.
This can go on for years and years.
Sadly, boredom can enter your sex life as well. The rush of fresh love fades and you know his body. Now, lovemaking is truly about enjoying your partner, and not just idealizing a ravishing new love. Since sex is so much in the head, power struggles can do a lot of damage. Who wants to let go and be intimate, if he’s so rejecting and needs to be right all the time? Can you hold her lovingly if you’re so mad, or will you just turn over and go to sleep after coitus, leaving her wondering if you really care?
Many marriages fade because of things left unsaid. You both carry anger which segues into disappointment and boredom.
Relationships are like living beings that require challenges and growth spurts. And, if you don’t grow together, you will certainly wilt together.
Boredom as a Symptom: Boredom is not just a feeling, it’s also a symptom.
Depression in its many forms can beat the vitality out of a person. They lose a dynamic engagement with life, which can look a lot like being bored. If this is your situation, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you deal with the depression before blaming everything on your partner. You may indeed be unhappy in your relationship, but note that depression often leads to apathy or lack of happiness in things that used to give you joy.
For instance, about 13 percent of women experience postpartum depression. Hormonal changes can trigger this depression, but the effect is that you end up distancing from your partner. You simply have no interest in his struggles at work or other normal needs: he has become a bore.
While your husband may be falling short in some ways, postpartum depression paints him as a Neanderthal who doesn’t deserve the time of day. This mood disorder is very serious and needs to be treated immediately. It is no reason to end a relationship, which at one point was filled with love, laughter, and joy.
Depression can also arise in the midst of a midlife crisis. The stark realization that life has its limits makes people reassess; and some get depressed.
You realize that you can’t look young anymore. Perhaps, your midlife crisis is triggered by the death of your mother or father. Or you have a health crisis and it’s a wakeup call. Many marriages end at this time; and it’s not uncommon to hear that he was bored with her, or that she had lost interest in him. Once again, boredom may have its source in depression rather than simply having outgrown another person.
Here are some tips if you are bored with your partner or if he is bored with you:
1. The Risks of Early Love: Boredom can come about after the frenzy of early love has faded. The question is; can you both fall in love with the real person that you are sleeping with?
a. If so, you’re lucky and boredom will soon cease to be an issue.
b. If not, maybe he or she is not the right person for you.
2. The Effects of Childhood Injuries: Has old childhood trauma made it impossible for one of you to really trust another person in an intimate way? If so, boredom is a defense, which keeps a person distant and safe. Is that what you really want?
3. Destructive Power Struggles: Are the two of you involved in unhappy power struggles that are leading to a negative feedback loop? If so, boredom is a good way to protect yourself – and it’s less provocative than being angry.
4. Are You Depressed? Note that affective disorders like depression can make people feel apathetic and bored. Whether you suffer from recurrent depression, postpartum depression or a mid life depression, be aware that your feelings about your lover may have little to do with her, and all to do with a debilitating mental disorder. Get help.
It’s reputed that Sigmund Freud once said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” If you’re bored of someone it may simply be because you find him boring. And if this is the case, there is no long-term relationship here because he or she deserves to know the truth. If you choose to stay in the relationship, don’t expect very much.
That being said, boredom is usually a symptom. It’s like the “All roads lead to Rome” saying. A multitude of problems can, in the end, lead to boredom. You can be bored because you can’t be intimate given your family history.
You can be bored because you’ve been angry with each other over a long period of time – and there is no more juice in the relationship. And you can also be bored because you have a psychiatric disturbance that deprives you of getting excited about anything.
Think about it. Do you want to give this relationship a chance?
After all, you had something special together at some point.
Look inside and see if the problem is more subtle than simple distaste. Perhaps you’ve been angry with him for a long time. Or she reminds you of something unpleasant about your mother. Or you’re in the middle of a long and bitter power struggle. Maybe, you’re just depressed.
Seeking therapy can help you figure out what’s really going on. Do you still have something together? It can be a renewed love for your wonderful family, or finding a way to escape stupid arguments, or getting over the need to control. Forgiveness is part of this work, and it’s often worth the effort.
The wonderful thing about being human is our capacity to stand back and look at our feelings. The situation may not be as hopeless as you think.
My advice? Take a hard look at what you have together, and confront what needs to be done. Breaking up or renewal are the adult choices.
It’s a short life; think twice before settling for boredom.
You can hear Dr. Banschick on The Intelligent Divorce radio show as well.