I’m extremely scared of boredom in a relationship.
This fear might be coming from my past experience when I was slowly hurting, time and again, as my then-boyfriend and I were drifting apart from each other, having nothing to talk about.
I spent most of those car rides complaining about small stupid things because I didn’t want to suffer the heart-breaking silence that meant we were miles apart from each other.
I could reach out and touch his hand. But I couldn’t touch his heart. Not anymore. He was next to me, yet he was away, buried months and months in the past.
The leaves weren’t the only thing that died that autumn. Contrary to trees, he and I kept on to something that was long overdue for another year. We tended to dry leaves and thought we could save them.
But there was nothing to save.
When I complained, he shrugged his shoulders. “Oh well,” he said. “What can you do.”
When I got excited over something, he said, “That’s good,” and smiled. But there was no real connection — no way in which he related to me, no real joy.
When I asked him a question, he replied with, “Hmm, I don’t know.”
He was bored of me. And I was painfully bored of him.
He rarely said something that would spark my interest, that would get my “noggin jogging” as my current partner likes to say. I felt intellectually unchallenged, and what hurt the most — I could sense the emotional emptiness that was creeping over our relationship, swallowing it as months passed by.
When it ended, there was no fight in me. I knew he didn’t love me so there was nothing to fight for except my own self. All I felt at the time was the ache of losing my first love, the ridiculous echo of it stretching out for over two years.
When I got with my current boyfriend after four years of being single, I thought I was healed from everything. I sorted myself out. I was a healthy individual with a secure attachment, ready to embark on a journey of happily-ever-after.
It’s a funny thing how intimate relationships call out to the deepest issues within ourselves and make them emerge. We talk to each other in a baby voice, we cry because of irrational emotions that come and go as they please, we regress.
And we realise that some of our old problems weren’t magically solved when we were single — they just fell asleep.
Time to fight those demons yet again.
After six months in the best relationship I’ve ever had, I still found myself struggling with my extreme fear of boredom. Being shut together in quarantine for four months didn’t help much. It was a wonderful time, but like any life circumstance, it wasn’t all pink and glitter.
I found myself asking my partner questions when he was busy, only for him to confirm to me that boredom and emptiness were coming for us — he wasn’t answering profoundly and with focus because he didn’t have time. That’s some self-sabotage right there.
In the first few weeks, I got slightly anxious each time we went to the shops together because I was scared of having nothing to say to each other on our way there. It never happened. We always talked. My fear slowly subsided, but not completely.
When restaurants opened and we decided to go out on a date, I had a breakdown in the shower. I was sobbing and I felt completely silly. He pulled me close as the water was making our fingertips wrinkly, and he asked, “What’s wrong? Tell me.”
“I’m scared that one day we won’t have anything to say to each other,” I wailed with my face buried in my palms.
That’s when he smiled. “Kate, look at me.” I did.
“One day we’ll be sixty, we’ll live in our little bubble in our house, and the grandchildren will come to visit sometimes. We’ll be bored, and I’ll ask you if you remember how we went to Vietnam and you’ll say you do. We’ll remember all the things we did there, even if we’ve already had this conversation a million times before, and we’ll just talk shit like that.”
“But we’ll be together. We’ll be like this,” he wrapped his middle finger around his pointing finger. “We’ll know each other like we know ourselves, maybe even better. Imagine how we’re sitting in a living room at seventy, you’re knitting your scarf and I’m reading my news, and we’re quiet. Now imagine the same, but with only you in it.”
My lips widened in a smile.
He grinned at me. “You see? When there are two of us, it’s not so lonely. It’s quite cute.”
Our date went great, and I learned an important lesson: Boredom isn’t the end of the world. People actually often mistake quiet contentment for it. If you’re with someone for the rest of your life, there’s a 99% chance you’ll be bored together at some point or another.
Therefore, in celebration of long-term day-to-day relationships, these are the four beautiful things that I cherish about monotony.
You know each other like clockwork
You know their gestures, their facial expressions, their favourite sayings and phrases. You can tell what they think by a simple look on their face, by the way they stand, by what you know about them from private conversations.
The beauty of knowing and loving someone else deeply is inexplicably powerful. You feel like your souls touch each other while you blend into each other’s flesh. You feel supported, inspired and in awe by what you find inside of their mind.
The life you built together throughout time binds you, makes you happy to share a part of yourself with someone who’s worth it. You love that most of their things are yours — and you love that it’s the other way around as well.
You know what food they dislike, what quirks and strange habits they have, what their daily routine is.
You’re two whole parts building a team together.
Yes, it’s wonderful and exciting to be exploring someone new, to discover their secrets and hidden depths. But it’s also beautiful to know everything there is to know — and what’s even better, human beings are so complex that they never fail to surprise you occasionally.
You have a home
They’re your place of comfort. When you go on adventures and you venture out into the unknown, they’re who you come back to at the end of the day.
You open the door to your home and there they are, awaiting you, making sure you can be yourself, be relaxed, be taken care of.
What’s more, you expect them to be there and you know that your expectations will most likely come true. Their presence in your life is constantly at the back of your mind — just like with your best friends and family, your partner is who’s actively a part of your life.
They’re the one who makes things easier, who makes you happier, who is there on a rainy day.
Seeing them feels like being home. Personally, this is one of the most fulfilling emotions I could experience.
You can count on them
When I was with my ex-boyfriend, I still felt very dizzy and butterfly-like each time I thought of him, even after a year of being together.
Turns out, as Jessica A writes in this article, I most likely felt this way because I was insecure in our attachment. I mistook my relationship anxiety for being madly in love. I could never quite relax because I was always worried he didn’t love me.
The power of secure long-term attachments is that you know you can count on them to be there for you and to love you. Nowadays, I only experience some signs of the anxious insecure attachment when my partner gets a little avoidant due to stress. When we notice this pattern, we talk about it and try to solve the issue together.
Words of affirmation, frequent touch or other displays of affection go a long way in relationships. They’re little reminders that your partner still loves you and isn’t planning to run away.
You have a sense of security and stability in your life. This can contribute to your overall happiness a lot.
You can be unapologetically yourself
There are things you wouldn’t do with someone on a third date. As exciting as it is, you’re just not quite 100% comfortable.
After a few months of dating, you can relax. You get to know each other on intimate levels, and you find out that another person can know things about you that you’ve never told or shown anyone but yourself.
You realise they love you as you are, with all that comes with it. You can be ridiculous, weird, you can play and dance and explore the world like children. You unveil yourself completely and you’re curious to see what strange things hide inside of them as well.
You’re excited to love them even more, to kiss every part of their flesh, to feel your chest ache with love.
You’re afraid and thrilled to be unapologetically, intimately, and completely yourself.
And then… you’re content. You’re accepted. You’re known. You’re loved.
I was always under the impression that falling in love was the best part of relationships. But maybe I was wrong.
As thrilling as it is, it’s very little when I compare it to the strength of what you can build together over the course of months and years. Love is wonderful because of all the work and effort you’re willing to put in to make it work with someone who’s worth it.
The longer I’m with him, the more I love him.
Love is beautiful because it’s not just about the excitement of a new mystery, but rather about the constant twisting around each other like roots until you grow into a great tree.
And if you tend to it, the leaves on this tree won’t fall, no matter how many autumns come your way.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Susanne Pälmer on Pixabay