Three Cheers For “Boring” Love

I often feel inundated with so much art, discussion, and philosophy on all the myriad ways we fall in and out of love. I am the first to admit that I have gotten swept up in it, that I have dwelled on these subjects — we all have — but it can sometimes feel exhausting. There is so much attention focused on the act of getting to know someone, of those exciting firsts, of the moments where even the most mundane activities are positively electrifying. Then, conversely, we talk about the moments when that love dies out, when it is ripped apart painfully, and the ugly untied ends it leaves behind that we have to work on mending. The trajectory of love we often hear about is, “Meet cute, desire from afar, thrilling infatuation, series of firsts …….. horrifying breakup, anger, resentment, finally becoming okay again.” Rinse and repeat.

And why not? These are the kind of moments that consume us, that fill our lives with the energy and passion that we may have thought were extinguished completely. Even when we’re agonizing and wailing over someone who used to love us but doesn’t anymore, at least we feel something. There’s no ignoring it; we’re fully in the moment. And it is easy, with the kinds of love that span over time and become a slow, calming rhythm in our lives, to forget how much we are feeling. The love and the joy becomes a vague hum in the background, the kind that would rock us to sleep on a long car trip. We miss, on some level, the acute passion of the moments bookending romantic love.

The same thing, too, can be said for all kinds of love. We can just as easily become intoxicated by a new friend, want to learn everything about them and spend as much time as possible growing the spark between us, and then fall quietly into familiarity. Perhaps we won’t even remember the profound meaning they have in our lives until they leave us for one reason or another. Family, too — the most obvious in terms of “unassuming, unconditional” love for most of us, can be tossed aside if something shiny and new should come aside. But nowhere is this dichotomy more present — and more prolifically expounded upon — than the romantic love we all seem to be looking for.

Love, dating, sex, marriage, desire — these are all things that consume us and fill us with questions. Who is getting it? Who doesn’t have it? Why don’t I have it? Will they come back? Will I find someone new? What do they think of me? Little else exists when infatuation does. And yet, once we’ve been welcomed into the club and have found someone with whom we can be fully and utterly ourselves, with whom we share everything, with whom life is simply good — we take it for granted. In fact, sometimes we are so eager for that thrill of danger, of uncertainty, of desire, that we’ll search for and create problems where there are none. It’s as though our brains can’t comprehend that something can simply work, and that happiness is not just a wisp of smoke we’re meant to perpetually chase and never attain.

We rarely hear about the little acts of love that exist between partners, where there are no plot twists or last-minute obstacles. There are few films, few books about a woman who packs a lunch for her husband every morning and cuts the crust off his sandwich, or the man who works an extra job at night for two years so his boyfriend can attend law school, or the couple who lies in bed at night and asks each other how their day was and really listens. Sure, that might be a component of the story, but it is sure to be drowned out by the conflict and the thrill that we want to see. And there is nothing wrong with that, we like excitement. But sometimes it’s hard not to miss the attention paid to the little, unglamorous acts of love that make up a true partnership.

I wish I heard more waxing poetic about the person who is there for them in ugly moments, to whom they have grown accustomed to seeing naked but still long to touch. I want to hear about the thrill of the safe, the glowing feeling that consume us if we only stop to consider how magical and how precious it is — someone loves us for who we are, in all our forms, at every time of day. Someone wants to be there for us when it isn’t easy, when it isn’t convenient, and when the electricity of the new has worn off. This “boring” love, as we can sometimes consider it, is only as mundane or as familiar as we allow it to be. Sure, falling for someone is wonderful. And yes, breakups can be the inspiration for a million new beginnings, but the love that exists between them — if it can last — is more powerful with a whisper than the rest of it is with a scream. TC mark

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • http://raymondthimmes.com/ Raymond Thimmes

    Chelsea, you are a wonderful writer.

  • http://pinkcrush.tumblr.com .pink♥crush.

    This is perfect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RebelInDisguise Tanya Turner Rao

    I swear. More should be written about this kind of love. 
    “I want to hear about the thrill of the safe, the glowing feeling that consumes us if we only stop to consider how magical and how precious it is – someone loves us for who we are, in all our forms, at every time of day. Someone wants to be there for us when it isn’t easy, when it isn’t convenient, and when the electricity of the new has worn off”True that.

  • Anonymous

    GOOSEBUMPS. 

    • kids.

      this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002598124977 Traci Livinlovinlaughin Herbst

    I really need to read this today. Thank you for writing it and so well. My boyfriend and I have been having an awful time. I guess in a way, I don’t know how to be happy in a relationship unless there’s some sort of SPARK whether it be negative or positive. And sometimes I don’t know if I even deserve the happiness. And at the same time, I feel as if nothing I give is enough.

  • Guest

    I honestly fall in mad passionate love with my husband every day. Sure, we fight occasionally, but when we’re not, we’re grinning wildly. We work to not let it go stale. This may fade with time, but we’re well out of the 18 month infatuation period and our hearts still race for each other. And I agree with you, I want to hear more about stable love, if only to know we’re not alone.

  • Kim

    As a child of divorce and messy subsequent remarriages… I find nothing more beautiful than “boring” love. I’ve been drawn to it since I was kid; I would linger in the kitchen at my friends’ houses, watching their loving parents interact in the smallest, most thoughtful ways. I’ve always pined for “boring” love, admired its rare appearance in film, treasured books that depict what I aspire to live: content, life long love and partnership. In middle school, I would rewatch a tiny moment in the film “The Upside of Anger,” for me the epitome of true love: Costner and Allen lie in bed one night, Allen filled with grief, and Costner inches behind her to spoon her to sleep in her misery. “Ew, old people love!” friends might say, but that moment still embodies what I hope to have one day.

    • DCDenise

      I went through the same thing as a kid. All that back and forth and moving was awful. I will take the security of “boring” any day. And lucky for me, after falling in love many, many years ago, I am more in love every day.

    • http://www.facebook.com/keithcasey7 Keith Casey

      love “the upside of anger”

  • Kristy

    I’ve never commented before, but thank you for writing this. It is beautiful and so true.

  • DCDenise

    I kind of got lost in most of this, but the last paragraph was fantastic. Unfortunately alot of people mistake comfort for boring, contentment with dull and loss of excitement for loss of love. Love is like any other aspect of life. It has stages. If you are not open to these changes and are not willing to use them to your advantage, then do yourself and someone else a favor and be up front about it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to always have those “firsts” and all the excitement of a new relationship, but if thats all you want, both people need to be up front about it or someone is going to get hurt. Because ….. it. will. happen. to. you. too   You are not special and your relationship is not different from anyone else’s.

    • Andrew Rowland

      ” You are not special and your relationship is not different from anyone else’s.” <— so true. well said. I can't tell you how many times I've discussed this view with people.

  • Jessica

    oh my god i love this article so much.

    “In fact, sometimes we are so eager for that thrill of danger, of
    uncertainty, of desire, that we’ll search for and create problems where
    there are none. It’s as though our brains can’t comprehend that
    something can simply work, and that happiness is not just a wisp of
    smoke we’re meant to perpetually chase and never attain.”
    yeah

    man, i wish i was in love.
     

  • Sarah Fusaro

    Aw this brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful reminder that the every-day love, that most would consider boring, is sometimes the most meaningful and lets us know that we’re loved. 

    Some people don’t understand why I got married at 20. They think I settled down, lost all my options, became a ‘boring’ adult. But how do I tell them that, when you’ve got the right one, that ‘boring, adult’ love can be absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. The way we say “Good night, best friend” every night before we fall asleep, how he is eager to tell me all about his day, how I make him dinner every night, how he still finds me attractive even when I don’t have make up on, and I’m bloated and feel gross, the way we still write letters to each other even though we live together now, all lets me know that the world is okay, that I’m loved no matter what. It’s those little gestures that mean more than the fights, breakups, first dates, etc.  because they’re so rich.
    You described this so beautifully. Thank you so much. You have a beautiful writing style. :) 

    • Natalie

      Thanks for this. I got married young, and I’m still fairly young. Now I’m just waiting for my friends and family to stop seeing my relationship as a mistake and instead seeing it as how you described it. 

      • Sarah Fusaro

        It’s okay – I think I still have friends and family that think I made a mistake. (I’m still very young too). But when you’re confident about your marriage and what you’ve got, you can just smile at them, basking in the comfort of what you *know* is true and in the wonderfulness of that comforting, everyday love. The people who doubt you aren’t there when you have those sweet every day moments that make it all worth it. ;) 

  • Karen

    Totally unrelated, but… How do your pronounce your last name? Fagan like pagan?

  • Kelly

    one of the best articles i’ve read on thought catalog

  • Margaret Thatcher

    This is really beautiful and well-written.

  • Chris

    Chelsea, I always enjoy your writing.  This was great. I am currently in a “boring love” relationship. I’ve enjoyed it and enjoyed it for the time we’ve had together. However, there comes a time when relationships simply end or die out. We have no troubles or arguments, but neither of us are in love with one another anymore. It’s interesting to feel this way. It’s sad, but both of us agree that there isn’t much reason for it to go on. The thing I like most about this relationship is the communication, I’ve never had that before. It’s too bad that it is about to end, but what can you do? Neither of us are looking for excitement, danger or the sparks, we just feel it’s time to end it. As others have agreed, I’ve always enjoyed this idea of “boring love.”

    • Betchlovesthis

      Chris, I am in the exact spot u are. After a while you become complacent and it’s not bad but it’s nothing. My question is how long we’re you together? We’re you each others first loves? And how old are you? Just wonder for personal comparison : ) I’m 25.first relation ship 6 years.

  • Anonymous

    Right now, I don’t want a relationship, but boy, would I like to have that some day :)

  • Anonymous

    You have defined a very special portion of my relationship… Going from an initial relationship filled with strife, excitement, and dangerous liasons – to one where I have full confidence in knowing that he is there for me, to one where I can give him  a look that still makes him blush, to one that I feel so utterly RIGHT in being with him is a very special place.
    Thanks for reminding me of this.

  • Guest

    Thank you so much for this! For the first time I’m in a “boring love” relationship and every once in a while I find myself just waiting for something to go wrong. As you so aptly say, ” It’s as though our brains can’t comprehend that something can simply work, and that happiness is not just a wisp of smoke we’re meant to perpetually chase and never attain.” But as I get used to this stability I’m so unaccustomed to, I find I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m no longer “eager for that thrill of danger, of uncertainty.” It’s awesome.

  • Anonymous

    currently struggling to embrace boring love after recovering from an emotionally insane clusterfuck of a relationship. amazing encouragement. 

  • Elizabeth

    this reminds me of that adam sandler song in wedding singer

    i wanna make you laugh whenever you’re sad, carry you around when your arthritis is bad, all i wanna do is grow old with you….. so let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink, put you to bed when you’ve had too much to drink, oh i could be the one who grows old with you

  • Anonymous

    I can’t imagine any kind of love, let alone this kind.  Good work Chelsea :)

  • Sophia

    Chelsea, this is perfect. Thank you!

  • S N Cosme

    This was really affecting, nuanced, honest writing. Lovely work, Chelsea.

  • Stacy Ward

    It took me forever to find my “boring” love, and I’ve never been so grateful.  As someone who’s been through what I refer to as the “parade of assholes”–men who have varied on every level of abuse–I finally feel happy and content with my sweet, stable boyfriend and our loving, comfortable relationship.
    I find the writers of the “How to get your heart broken” and “How to fall in love with the wrong person” essays poetic and basically accurate, but I appreciate your writing so much more.  The voice I hear gives hope, and reminds us that stability and happiness are out there; it doesn’t all have to be melodramatic heartbreak.
    Thank you, Chelsea. <3

  • Emily

    I love this!!!!

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