Here’s a situation most people in long-term relationships have experienced at one time or another:
You really want to do something. Say, a challenging hike that ends at an idyllic waterfall. And you really want your partner to do it with you, because you love spending time with them, don’t want to do it alone, and, hello, idyllic waterfalls are fucking romantic.
But your partner doesn’t want to do it. Their reason could be anything: they’re busy, they’re tired, they hate hiking, they have a phobia of romantic waterfalls — the fact is, they don’t want to do it, and they’re not budging.
I’ve been on both sides of this equation many times. It’s never easy, and whenever nagging enters into the equation (guilty!), it creates a perfect storm for conflict — not to mention resentment on both sides. Finding a balance between quality couple time and independence can be tough, but in this case, I’ve found that there is nothing more empowering and ultimately better for your relationship than learning to do your own thing.
Most relationships are built on a foundation of similarities and compatibility (well, hopefully), which is why I think it can be a bit jarring when your partner’s wants, needs, and preferences don’t line up with yours. When you’re the kind of couple who loves spending every minute together, it can be that much more tempting to take a pass on activities that your partner isn’t into. If you recognize this pattern in your relationship, do yourself (and your partner!) a favor and stop waiting around or pouting about the things they don’t want to do. Instead, just go do them.
Yearning to go to a lecture about some obscure topic that you’ve always been fascinated by? Buy a ticket.
Want to go to a Taylor Swift concert that your boyfriend wouldn’t be caught dead at? Round up your pop music-loving girlfriends and go.
Feeling pulled to attend a yoga retreat in Mexico? Save up and do it, girl.
Hankering to try that new Thai restaurant on the corner but your partner is working late for the 10th night in a row? Order takeout and settle in for a solo Netflix binge.
Not only does doing your own thing cut down on tension and resentment, it creates a fuller, richer life for both partners. I’ve written before about how constant compromise can turn every decision into a dull shadow of What Might Have Been, and the same is true for skipping out on experiences just because one partner feels lukewarm about it. When you get too caught up in the “we” when making plans, you’ll both be missing out on a whole world of experiences that feed your fire. And if you’re not careful, that fire can go out.
Of course, there are times when a partner’s disinterest shouldn’t be taken lightly. If they’re consistently skipping out on events that are important to you, or brushing you off when you’re truly in need of their support, well, it’s probably time to have a talk or even reevaluate the relationship.
But for all those other times, when they’re feeling “meh” about something you’re feeling super excited about, don’t hesitate to nod politely at their excuses and then say, “Honey, I love you, but I’m gonna do it anyway.”
[Photo via Shutterstock]