7 Questions To Ask Your Partner If You're Bored In Your Relationship
It can't be all fun all the time: Most relationships fall into a snoozefest phase at some point. Maybe you find yourselves, somewhere in the fifth month, cuddled up in bed spooning a pint of ice cream in front of an episode of Arrested Development you've both seen too many times, and rather than thinking about how this is arguably the best Friday night plan in existence, a small panic starts kicking around in your skull space. Or maybe that couples' pottery class your partner loves so much has never been your idea of a good time, and you miss going to the corner bar and playing pool together. Regardless, every relationship — especially the long hauls — goes through lulls, but broaching the subject can be tricky business: It hurts to hear someone say they feel bored when they're with you, whatever the context. And yet, if your relationship has cruised into the doldrums, if the nights are now just an endless expanse of sexless sleep when you were supposed to Netflix and chill, you have to say something or things will certainly spiral. If you're feeling bored in your relationship, it's important to start asking questions.
Maybe you are perfectly happy with reasonable bedtimes and using a person you love as a pillow (and honestly why wouldn't you be?), but if you are reading this, perhaps you are frustrated. Maybe, you're just ever so slightly, resentful — if not of your partner, than of the shift in your dynamic. Maybe you are wondering if you and your Stella can ever get your groove back, and how. And when! And oh god, is it even worth it when everything gets a little bit boring eventually?
According to Dr. Kevin Gilliland, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and Executive Director of Innovation 360, these are crucial questions to answer for yourself before you broach them with a partner. If it's just six months in and you're already restless, stop and assess whether or not you actually want to be in that relationship at all. "There is nothing worse than being on a journey with somebody you don’t like," Dr. Gilliland tells Bustle. But every long-term relationship has its ruts.
"If you’re going through a season, have that conversation, because your partner may be feeling the same way," Dr. Gilliland says. But keep in mind, boredom has myriad different sources. Are you not getting the intellectual challenge you need? Does your partner not provide the emotional stimulation you want? Are your energy levels mismatched? Are your libidos? Are you not spending enough quality time together to feel connected? Has the sex grown stale, predictable?
"Boredom in a relationship can take several forms, and understanding the root will determine what kind of questions to ask," Irene Fehr, sex and intimacy coach, tells Bustle. Self-assess before you start peppering your partner with questions. Once you've figured out where you feel the relationship is sagging, then start talking to your partner. "The key is not to make them wrong but to ask open-ended questions to learn more about their experience," Fehr says.
Below are seven questions to help you get out of relationship boredom, according to experts.
1. Have You Noticed We Haven't ____ In Ages?
If your problem is letting your favorite couples' rituals lapse, ask your partner if they miss doing the things you miss doing. "It always helps to say what you loved and what you miss," Dr. Gilliland says. And then return the question: "If you had to just name one thing that you loved that we did, what was it?"
The issue might be that your partner never loved bowling the way you did, but went with you to make you happy; the issue might be that her back has really been bothering her, and she can't heft the ball the way she used to. Once you know, you can carve out time for the activities that matter most to one another, or settle on some new outings both of you enjoy.
2. How Does It Feel To You To _____?
Once you've identified the areas you personally would like to improve, ask your partner how they feel about those topics. Fehr recommends saying something along the lines of, "I've noticed I tend to get more excited about X." Maybe it's learning new things; maybe it's spending time with friends, or simply being out among people; maybe it's the idea of settling down, or trying something new in bed. How does the idea of doing the thing that excites you feel to them?
"Ask a partner about the topic and how important it is for them," she says "You want to know what they value and what they see as important. You're gauging if you're actually aligned on values in these areas and if it's a matter of compatibility or something deeper."
3. How Important Is _____ To You?
If you're questioning your intellectual compatibility, or you've noticed a mismatch in sexual desire, Fehr advises asking your partner how important that item is to them. If you want a partner who makes you laugh and whom you make laugh, but the person you're with doesn't prioritize humor, is that something you can live with? If your partner agrees that the mood has grown a little too serious of late, you can figure out why and re-inject some levity into your union. But either way, if you lack the qualities the other needs to feel engaged, you both need to know.
4. What Topics Interest, Excite You?
Figure out what your partner is passionate about, especially if it's not the same thing that leaves you feeling jazzed. "Ask what they want more of to understand if they're interested in expanding and growing in this area," she says. Maybe it's an area where you want to expand or grow, too.
5. What Scares You About ____?
"Boredom in a relationship often comes when we stop challenging each other out of fear — fear of upsetting our partners and ultimately losing them," Fehr says. "This can be reversed or improved by getting curious about what's going on with the partner and hearing them out." So, if there's a miss thing you love about which your significant other expresses reservations, ask them why. Make an effort to understand.
"These kinds of questions can restore intimacy and a willingness to be at their best and challenge us to be at ours," Fehr says.
6. Is There Something More Important To You Than Being In A Relationship?
"If your answers don't align, it can be a true mismatch of values or personalities or a variety of things such as education, interests, or commitment to personal growth," Fehr says. But if being challenged, surprised, excited, whatever "is a strong value for you, you have to be meticulous in finding a partner who values the same."
So you have to ask your partner if that requirement matters to them, too, or if it takes a back seat to some other value you may or may not share. The answer might hurt, but ultimately, you need to determine if you're compatible: If this boredom can be worked through, or if the lull you're experiencing actually announces an ill fit.
7. Do You Feel Like Something Is Different?
Sometimes, when people complain of relationship boredom, what they're actually experiencing is a lapse in connection. "We feel the distance and we don’t know how to put it into words always," Dr. Gilliland says. "Because sometimes boredom is, 'I don’t feel connected to you.'"
With that in mind, the single most important piece of information to suss out is whether or not your partner also feels things have changed. If you're going to get back on the same page, you have to determine whether or not you actually left it.