Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Case of the Bored Girlfriend

Be yourself… As though you could be someone other than yourself. These words count as a superior form of wisdom. We even read them in a Carolyn Hax column from 2005. Apparently, Hax is so proud of the vapid advice she offered the young female letter writer that she has reprinted it to fill space during her vacation.

I raise the issue because most of us are happy to embrace the notion of being yourself, even though most of us do not have a clue what that means. I suspect that we float this metaphysical nonsense because we do not want to worry about our duties and responsibilities as citizens. Being yourself generally absolves you of following the rules of social commerce and allows you to follow you bliss or your feelings or your heart or your loins. 

Anyway, here is the letter, written by a young woman:

My boyfriend and I have been together for the past 2½ years, and our relationship is really stable and comfortable. He's a great guy, and I can count on him to be there for me no matter what; he'll forgive me for anything because he really wants us to stay together.

But lately I've been wanting a bit more excitement rather than stability in my life. Plus, he's not very social, so he makes me feel guilty when I spend time with my other friends and not him.

I'm 21, so I have the rest of my life to settle down and start a family — he's the type of guy I would do that with — but right now I just want to have fun and see other people, even if they don't have the long-term potential he has.

We've always said we would remain friends even if we broke up, and I want to keep in touch with him, but how can I tell him I'm unhappy without hurting his feelings? And should I stop seeing him altogether or remain in sporadic contact? I have a feeling that will lead to us getting back together because that's what's happened in the past.

— Bored in Boston

We are somewhat suspicious of any man who will forgive anyone for just about anything. We understand that Bored in Boston is restless. So, what. She imagines that she has the rest of her life to find a husband and to settle down, but that is an outright lie. As a zillion articles have told young women, the older they get the fewer prospects they have. And she certainly does not have the rest of her life to start a family.

Obviously, she is merely echoing what her girlfriends have been telling her. No one considers that said girlfriends, miserable for participating in the hookup culture, resent her for having a solid relationship. Apparently, the thought has never crossed anyone's mind.

So, he is stable and solid, a presentable boyfriend, and she wants to have more fun, more casual encounters, more hookups. 

Hax is all in with this:

I can’t think of anyone who has less “long-term potential” than someone who bores you.

Wait, not true. Someone who makes you feel guilty for being yourself — now there’s an even less appealing choice for the long haul.

Unless your goal in life is to resent your husband, hate your life and screw up your kids, please don’t confuse being ready to settle down and start a family with marrying the first guy you’re certain won’t leave you.

So, Hax does not think that this is a great relationship. And she, along with Bored in Boston, believes that the man in question is a boring clod because he does not want to go out every weekend to do shots at the local speakeasy… and then to pick up a stranger to have noncommittal sex with.

Because, like it or not that is what Hax is advising. Forget the drivel about being herself, Bored in Boston is surrounded by friends who live what is considered to be the liberated life: blowing a different man every weekend. There, that is truly not boring. She is listening as her friends share stories about all the fun they had over the weekend and she feels left out. She wants to be one of the girls. She wants to be more like them. Not necessarily because she would then be herself, but because she would have her own stories to share. And her bland relationship does not have anything like the entertainment value that stories from the hookup culture have.

Apparently, her girlfriends and Hax do not quite understand that the hookup lifestyle is wonderful for men and not so wonderful for women. Why would an advice columnist recommend that a young woman give up a solid relationship in order to learn how to get drunk and have sex with men she does not know. 

Yes, I understand that, at the current cultural juncture, women are told in no uncertan terms not to marry young. Regardless of the price. Hax seems to be fully on board with it. And yet, how is that really working out? If you think it’s working out well for women, you have drunk the ideological Kool Aid.


Anonymous said...

It's been 14 years, and Bored in Boston should be 35 now. Perhaps she is Anxious in Atlanta at this stage of her life, unable to find the right man to start a family. It would be nice to know what became of her, and if the advice by Carolyn Hax had any influence on her decisions.

Sam L. said...

Indeed, she's past her most fertile years, though children are still possible. One does wonder about her. Perhaps she wised up; miracles do happen.

UbuMaccabee said...

I remember her. She complained about her boring boyfriend and I knew she was riding the cock carousel. Dumb, but a great ass, made a mess of the sheets though. Gave her herpes. I wonder whatever happened to her? Who cares, she hit the wall a long time ago.

RonF said...

I know a number of highly educated women who followed the advice that they should put establishing a career first over establishing a relationship with a life partner and are now finding that the best men their age got married a few years ago and the good ones out of what's left of the men their age are not looking for a woman their age. They are looking (and likely finding) a woman a few years younger than them who wants to establish a relationship with a life partner and have children.

A lot of these women are angry. But they tend to blame others, not themselves, for the problem they now face.