Here is what I have concluded after thirteen years of marriage: Love is boring.
It doesn’t mean it is always boring, not by any stretch of the imagination. But, when you settle into a loving and committed relationship, you simply have to let go of the idea that love should always be exciting. Or that it should always feel good. Or you should always be having sex. OR—and perhaps this is the most important point—that our feelings alone should ever dictate our experience of love.
I was talking to a friend about his experiences with love. What was clear from our conversation was that he had an idea that many of us have been inculcated with since the day we were born: Love is supposed to be exciting. Always.
That is what countless movies and television shows have told us. In fact, the majority of those shows end with the excitement still going strong. Most of the screen time is spent on the guy (usually) chasing the girl (usually). The assumption is that the happiness and the excitement will continue perpetually. The ever sought after, and implicitly promised, happy ending (no, not that happy ending…okay maybe that one too) will happen. All you have to do is find the person and win their love.
And there you have it: our culture’s idea about love that we have been drowning in for decades. But it is so much more complicated than that.
The struggle that many men have just to be able to stay in a relationship can be significant. I have watched man after man struggle to accept love into his life, sometimes under the guise of thinking there is someone better out there for him. Or, sometimes by picking their partner apart looking for all the ways in which they do not necessarily fit that Hollywood ideal.
Finding yourself and being able to commit to another human being can be quite an emotional journey for many men. And that is only one part of the journey. Then comes a deeper level of commitment like engagement or marriage (if they want that), and having a family. Or however they want to express their deeper love and commitment to someone. All of those are additional steps in this crazy dance called love—steps that bring with them their own emotional impact and their own barriers to overcome. When you have been trained for most of your life to devalue relationships – whether in subtle or no so subtle ways – and to not practice much of what it takes to be in a relationship, of course they’re going to be difficult.
That was why my friend was having a hard time as his relationship inevitably began its plateau. There doesn’t have to be drama. He certainly doesn’t have to create drama, though his brain doesn’t seem to understand that. So, he spends a lot of time wondering if his partner is the right one. Maybe there is someone better. He imagines other people. Or just breaking up and sleeping around. Each time he does that he puts a quarter in the drama machine to keep it going. All of these have one major effect: keeping him from being present in his relationship and experiencing the beauty and pain of intimacy.
In truth, saying that love is boring is nothing more than saying you have found a love that actually has a chance of lasting. You have a relationship that is stable. A love that is strong. So here is to boring love.