Elisabeth: When Constant Togetherness Means Constant Irritation


by Elisabeth Snell, Contributing Editor

Elisabeth: When Constant Togetherness Means Constant Irritation | A Practical WeddingA few years ago someone introduced me as “the queer mayor of Ditmas Park.” On the outside, I probably laughed it off and tossed my ponytail jauntily over my shoulder, while inside I fell to the ground in delight. And then I walked home whispering “QUEER MAYOR!” deliriously to myself, because that’s pretty much the top one of one compliments anyone has ever paid me, in the history of compliments. This honor is probably solely based on my ability to deliver a long-winded analysis of the two competing neighborhood CSAs, but still, someone somewhere thought what I said was interesting, and so I’m going to use my position (which is solely my own position, based on the praxis of my own experiences, and not representative of the entire queer community or all queers past and future, but I am a queer mayor) to mull over a popular and peculiar trend among lesbian couples: Constant Togetherness.

Like 90% of humans, I want my friends and partner to like each other. And preferably, to spend a lot of time together, participating in all of the same activities I enjoy. In the lesbian community, togetherness is more valuable than an organic kombucha starter. A straight friend of mine and I talked once about how she and her friends have girls’ nights, where it’s just them without any husbands or boyfriends. She described the palpable sense of relief that comes from “getting away” and having that time together with her female friends. I remember being surprised, and then a little jealous, because I continue to experience just the opposite in queer communities, where there seems to be this unspoken expectation that dating partners will be happily subsumed into friendships and friend groups.

At all of the “queers’ nights out,” which range from Hunan take-out while streaming last week’s episode of The Batchelorette to checking out the latest lesbian bar in Soho (verdict: dark and sexytimes, but still not Cattyshack, may it forever rest in peace), everyone’s dragging along their dating partners, girlfriends, and wives, even when those dating partners get hives from Hunan take-out and small talk. I’m not sure where this phenomenon comes from. Maybe there’s no assumed need for girl time, because we’re mostly girl-identified already, so every night could be girls’ night out? Has someone already written a dissertation on this? Regardless of the origins, I find that sure puts a strain on friendships and relationships, especially when a pair is as different as the two of us.

K and I want different things from our friendships, and different things from our social lives. Way back in the beginning of our relationship we determined that we’d never go to a Brooklyn dance party together. It would be too crowded and overwhelming for her, but if I don’t go out at least once a quarter, I get itchy. This arrangement works really well for us, even when I come home slightly tipsy and noisily read catalogues in bed. (The Hammacher-Schlemmer catalogue at 3am? Positively enthralling.) I get to go out, cut loose, and catch up with a million people, and K gets to have quiet time at home watching her obscure British programs and finessing her paleo cooking and rolling around on the gymnastic rings she rigged up in our kitchen.

Sure, sometimes I’m wistful that my girlfriend isn’t there too waving her hands in the air and singing along to “Age of Aquarius” at Brooklyn’s newest hilarious dance party. But we’re still good for each other in a million ways, even though we have different social lives.

Since we’ve been together, thanks to her sensible practicality, I’ve finally figured out a financial system that works for me which includes keeping myself on a strict allowance instead of buying all the artisanal bourbon in south Brooklyn. (You know what’s better than bourbon? Savings. You know what’s a million times more boring than bourbon? Savings.) I’ve regulated my bedtime. My diet includes about 50% more vegetables. I am unquestionably more even-keeled and less anxious, thanks to her steady ways and her support, and most of all, I feel well-loved. Seeing her face light up when I walk into a room is one of the best parts of my day.

But some of these changes mean saying no to friends and stepping back from social events and expensive nights out, so that I can maintain my even-keeledness, and so K and I can carve out quality time together that’s not on the dance floor. These changes also mean fielding questions about where K is and how sad she must be to miss this, and I’m still trying to figure out a delicate way to say that what we’re doing right now is something she’d hate, but that’s not a reflection on your or my choices, and also, we still really like each other. In all seriousness, they’ve also created some conflict between me and my friends, who rightfully question whether the ways I’ve changed and my choices are really ones I want to be making, or a product of this still new-ish relationship.  I’m not very good at saying no, so I used to never say no, and that made me an excellent wingman, a great friend date, a really good floater at parties, and, well, kind of a basket case, but oh, such a fun basket case.

I don’t really want to go to bed at nine. What I really want to do is cook up some wild adventures in Williamsburg. Or at the very least, lounge around the living room in a Support Vaginal Pride t-shirt and underwear while watching 103,092 back episodes of Grey’s Anatomy into the wee hours. But thanks to K’s resolute bedtime, I’ve learned I’m happier and less anxious when I get 8.5 hours of sleep every night, but her social plans don’t work for me and I’d go stir crazy if my life was as quiet as hers. Breaking the constant togetherness mold helps me carve out time that is focused on my friends separate from my relationship, because I miss the single version of myself. I think I’ll be figuring out this balance for years to come. On the flip side, though, I get to read so many more catalogues.

Photo by APW Sponsor Calin+Bisous

Elisabeth Snell

Elisabeth is an MPH working in public health in New York City. Her old okcupid profile said she’s really good at: fixing socially awkward situations at parties, return trips to Ikea, whipping up excellent mac and cheese on camping trips, leaping into the ocean, being chronically late, and having Friday night adventures all over Brooklyn. In September 2013, she married her introverted, punctual K.

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  • Smitty

    yup.

  • http://www.wrightremedy.blogspot.com addie

    That catalogue is…not fair. There goes all my productivity for the day. Now I want a golfcart hovercraft.

  • Laura C

    Then, speaking as a less-social partner, there’s the challenge of figuring out when I *should* go out with A and his friends. What events will I enjoy? (For some reason, at the beginning of our relationship, his guesses were about 100% wrong on that and he’d always drag me to things I hated, then not quite invite me to things I would have liked to go to.) How often should I go out with any given group of his friends to show, basically, that I don’t hate them? (Because I don’t. I just don’t want to spend as much time with them as he does and I don’t always want to do the things they’re doing.) Figuring that stuff out really takes work, and after five years it’s still hit or miss.

    • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

      Neither my husband nor I are hugely social, and the compromise we’ve come up with is that we both go when there will be other couples there and we both like the activity in question. So if he’s going for beers at a friends and the friend’s significant other is there? I go. If they’re meeting in bar and his partner is off doing other things, I don’t go. Same happens in reverse

    • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

      I generally solved this guesswork by inviting my fiance to almost everything, with the caveat of “You are welcome if you are interested, but this is not a requirement,” and saving, “I’d really like you to come with me,” for things that I’d be super bummed to go to without him. That way he knows what is up and can come along if it strikes his interest, but he knows he is off the hook if it isn’t up his alley. (And when he *isn’t* off the hook, I’ve also made that clear.)

      • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

        I think the 2nd part of my strategy is the important part for our communication, letting him know in clear terms that my invitation *can* be declined with no hard feelings and telling him very clearly when his absence *would* be a problem. That way he doesn’t have to guess and I don’t have the nagging feeling that he doesn’t want to be somewhere and is just there because I asked.

        • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

          That second part is so key. My husband didn’t used to do that, so every invitation felt like a pop quiz. If it was important to him and I said no, I’d fail. But if it wasn’t and I went to something I hated, then he couldn’t have fun because he was worried that I wasn’t having fun. Getting this worked out helped us a lot.

      • Laura C

        Once we’d been together a little longer, the rule started being I was invited to everything (short of, say, best friend going through a breakup and they need to talk just them or whatever) and I decide what to go to. Much better, though I still can’t 100% predict what specifically is going to be fun. It’s hard the past year, though, because we used to be in a city where we had a lot of mutual friends and now we’re not, so it really is his friends or my friends.

      • Cleo

        This is exactly what my partner and I do. While neither of us are social butterflies, I like having more time with friends than he does generally. It works brilliantly. If I invite him somewhere and tell him it’s not a requirement, but he comes along, I know he genuinely wants to be there.

        If it is a requirement, he knows and will grumble depending upon the occasion, but is always a delight once we’re there and lets me dictate our comings and goings.

        I also don’t use the requirement trump a lot, which helps because it means he knows I’m serious when I tell him he is going.

      • Elisabeth

        Yup, after trial and error, a version of this works for us too. If I specially request K’s presence, then she knows it’s something that really matters. Also, sharing a googleycal made this so much easier.

    • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

      I had to learn that even though I DO want to go out, I really DON’T want to sit through all the movies my partner likes. So I now I weigh if my desire to see the movie is worth the ticket price and two hours of my time. Often the answer is no.

      Good luck in figuring out when to hang with people or not. Would inviting them over every few months work? That way you have more control over the situation, can determine an end time (with your partner so he’s on board) and disappear to the kitchen or something when you need a break.

      • rys

        On the movie front, when I lived in the same city as one of my best friends, she would frequently send me out to movies with her husband because she had no desire to watch spy thrillers or dumb comedies but both of us did. Ditto for long bike rides that she deemed insane, and we thought were crazy fun. She avoided activities she had no interest in and the two of us got to do things we liked. Bonus: her husband and I became better friends too (handy for planning surprise parties and the like!). There’s a lot to be said for knowing preferences and knowing who to do what with, no hard feelings on either side.

  • http://www.smittenchickens.com SarahHoppes

    WOW. This is our relationship. I’m the extrovert who likes big parties and will occasionally come home from a gathering late at night and quite tipsy, yelling about star wars or drunk eating chocolate, while he stays at home to write, read comics, or watch a movie. When we first started dating, navigating those differences was difficult. I wanted to include him in everything I liked. He felt really uncomfortable in social situations but didn’t know how to tell me that. I took his reluctance to signify he wasn’t serious about ME, since he was afraid to meet my friends and never introduced me to his.

    It took a lot of work to figure out this wasn’t an omen of bad tidings, just a difference in how we interact socially. He hadn’t introduced me to his friends, because he didn’t have many people he considered to BE close friends. He didn’t want to meet my friends because he was terrified they would judge him. It’s still work to figure out what’s best for us both together, and what’s best for us to enjoy independently, but crossing that first big hurdle was HUGE.

  • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

    I’m this way, too! Even though my partner and I have a good understanding of our social needs, it’s been tough to navigate the differences sometimes in our new city (how long can I call it “new”? 2 years? 3?). The man was able to build a small network of close friends (who are also somehow mostly introverts) through grad school, and we hang out with them most often. I’ve built a large network of acquaintances because I show up to everything and introduce myself, but then don’t see those folks as often. So I want to go out more, but my partner is still my default option for company, and he’s happy to make me happy, but prefers to stay home more. So either I’m lonely while out by myself, or sad that once we get home, he still wants time to himself.

    We’re both really thankful that with my upcoming new job, I’ll be working 1-9pm or so. Meaning I get to make good use of my mornings in the sunshine, which I love, and he’ll get time to himself after he comes home from school in the evenings. I’m looking forward to it- we’ll actually have new, interesting things to talk about and reasons to enjoy each other’s company on a date night :-)

  • Daisy6465

    Elizabeth, the more I read about your relationship the more I am convinced how much alike our relationships are (and that I am dating a lesbian in a large, hairy man’s body). I have struggled with this difference in our ideas of socialization. I like to go out, dance awkwardly, drunkenly debate our education system and yell at bars until 4 am. A great night for him is cooking and a Dr. Who marathon. Any social gathering that requires him to talk to people (even his own friends) for more than an hour wipes him out.

    I’ll be content with the quiet life for months until I reach a breaking point that usually goes something like this:

    Me: “We never go out! Why do we even live in the city if we never go out?!”
    Him: “We do stuff all the time, we went to the grocery store the other day.” (Wish I was joking on that last part, so not).

    At the beginning of our relationship he wanted to be together all the time, or felt like we should. He would tag along to my social events and look miserable the whole time. I used to plead with him to just say he didn’t want to go and stay home. Eventually I just stopped saying yes to things so that he wouldn’t have to be miserable. Which sucked, big time.

    We are finally at the point where he is comfortable not accompanying me all the time. My only problem now is that all of my friends seem to have aged in to the “more comfortable with my boo at home” stage of life so no one is looking to run around and scream with me until 4 am anymore.

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      Your comment reminded me that when I first moved to the city all by myself, I learned I had to set a goal of at least one outing a day. The grocery store totally counted. Also, walking in the park by myself and smiling at a person counted as social interaction.

  • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

    we are totally one of those constant togetherness couples. we always have been…except that for the first two years we were together, she worked a schedule that meant…actually we had *never* spent more than 48 hours together in those two years minus (i think) one vacation. i didn’t realize that until like a week before she quit that job for a more normal one (um. hours-wise) – and i totally panicked: “oh, shit, we don’t even know if we like spending time together! what if we hate each other come day 3? what do you do with an evening together – and moreover, when am i going to clean?” actually, it’s just fine and awesome…except i totally haven’t figured out when to clean.

    also, though, i think there are huge gender things in this interconectedness. because, as you said, most straight couples i know have “boys night” and stuff like that. well, so do most of the queer couples i know – except it gets way more complicated with way more hurt feelings. because while my spouse is genderqueer and gets invited to all the “boys’ nights”…my interests lie largely in “masculine” things, so for me it is super exclusionary. and then there are my femme acquaintances who, while they don’t really like doing the “guy stuff”, are left out ’cause they don’t have an equivalent “girl stuff” posse – ’cause most of the female-bodied queers i know lean butch/genderqueer/androgynous.

    third: ha, my wife has gone on a couple of vacations without me with friends, and people are always *so offended* for me. it’s hilarious, because i would *hate* going on those trips with her (i like vacation, but not touristy shit like disneyland and cruises). she always tells folks i would leave her if she made me go to something like that (seriously – heat, crowds, money, tourism. speaking of hives.)

    • Laura C

      To your last paragraph: my fiance is going to Miami this weekend to see friends. (Miami in July, I ask you!) He asked if I wanted to go with. Held out that it would be a cheap trip because we’d have a place to stay, so I’d just have to pay airfare. I was like “not if you gave me a free flight and paid me the cost of the ticket on top of it would I go on this trip.” Miami! In July! To, I’m guessing, crash on someone’s couch! Oh my GOD no!

    • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

      I’ve idly considered the gender stuff in the interconnectedness you talk about, and I think that’s an important thing to talk about during friendship month. When it comes to “girls’ night” or whatever you call a night without your partner, most of the time each of us does the same thing: hang out in a backyard/living room, have a few drinks and shoot the shit, all of which are gender-neutral. I do miss female friends for fashion-dilemmas and practicing my french braiding skills, as well as moaning over periods and how guys “just don’t get it.” But generally, even when I’m with my close friends, we drink and chat. (and then every so often, hit the club- check it!)

      At the moment, though, the vast majority of my partner’s close friends are female, thanks to the uneven ratios in his dept. As I start dancing more and more, I’m in contact with far more men than he is- and generally in a social dance scene, I get to know the men first, because that’s who I’m dancing with. I’m grateful that these circumstances break us out of some stereotypical roles- even if I do want a shopping buddy some weekends.

    • KC

      It took me MULTIPLE YEARS to figure out how to clean with my husband in the apartment, or actually (for me) to develop the trust and relationship understanding that this was an okay thing to do while potentially observed. For me, this was things like sorting stuff [something that used to be accompanied by... commentary... when my mother was around, which I was anxious to not experience Ever Again], rather than washing-things-that-need-to-be-washed cleaning. It also took a surprising number of years to be okay with turning up the music, stripping down to very little [because fabric soaked with soapy, dirty water = ick], and going on a fun scrub-everything-down-while-singing-along cleaning binge. This was a way more enjoyable method for me to do a deep clean (or a “handwash all the sweaters” clean, or similar projects) than the normal bland-and-quiet way, but I somehow thought it was too awkward/embarrassing. And, actually, no. Being not-fully-clothed does have interruption hazards, but how silly I look or sound will not, actually, be laughed at more than I’m already laughing at it (because yes, it is funny when you accidentally sat down on the corner you swept stuff into and now have a giant dust bunny that somehow affixed itself to your posterior), and it’s not going to be brought up as ammunition for how weird I am, and my scrub-brush-dance-moves will not be imitated in public. Because my husband is in fact not a jerk, and he has learned what things I’m fine with being teased about or fine with other people knowing and what I’m not. So, now I can be ridiculous in many ways with him around, which is pretty awesome.

      (obviously, your “when do I clean” problems may be entirely different; it just reminded me of this)

      Anyway, hooray for relationship growth and figuring things out. :-)

      • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

        ha! no, my “when do i clean” problems are almost exactly the same as yours!

        • KC

          That is actually oddly reassuring. :-)

      • jashshea

        Love this. Hilarious!

        I’m a disorganized cleaner – I’ll empty the dishwasher, throw in a load of laundry, clean the toilet, then (after washing hands obvs) starting sorting through magazines or something. I always felt like I’d be judged as well, but my husband is so grateful that there’s someone else tag-teaming cleaning, he really doesn’t mind how it happens.

    • http://prettypicturesbydanielle.tumblr.com/ Danielle

      Yes, gender is of course related. I’m bisexual, so I date men and women, and have had serious relationships with both. With guys, we tend to have different interests and even different movie choices. Therefore we will spend more time apart, with different sets of friends.

      With girls, even butch ones, we tend to be have more in common and generally want to “share” more.

      But I’ve also wondered about the lesbian tendency to “merge” with your partner. It’s totally happened with friends of mine, and myself too at times. Maybe it’s related to the U-Haul thing? We just want close relationships RIGHT AWAY, and absolute closeness ALL THE TIME. Guys seem to like space and boundaries more.

      Total generalizations, maybe not true for everyone, but my experiences thus far.

  • Jessica B

    Two of my best friends are women who are married to each other, and it has been interesting to see the transition of “together always” to “sometimes one of us comes out and the other doesn’t.” They’ve been together for six years and I think they are just starting to realize they don’t need to be together for everything. As a friend to both of them it’s been difficult to indicate I’m fine hanging out with them solo, or that my feelings aren’t hurt when only one decides to come over for dinner that night because the other needs to be an introvert.

    I found them not having much social independence interesting because my dude and I had the opposite happen–most social things we would go out and do on our own 70% of the time, and then we would have couple time. It’s now switched to spending more time in social situations together, but a lot of that has to do with different jobs and him being out of school for the summer.

  • Class of 1980

    “Since we’ve been together, thanks to her sensible practicality, I’ve finally figured out a financial system that works for me which includes keeping myself on a strict allowance instead of buying all the artisanal bourbon in south Brooklyn. (You know what’s better than bourbon? Savings. You know what’s a million times more boring than bourbon? Savings.) I’ve regulated my bedtime. My diet includes about 50% more vegetables. I am unquestionably more even-keeled and less anxious, thanks to her steady ways and her support, and most of all, I feel well-loved. Seeing her face light up when I walk into a room is one of the best parts of my day.”

    Lady, your partner sounds like my perfect partner. Where is the straight guy version of this? ;)

    Because I really need to eat 50% more vegetables and go to bed on time.

    • MDBethann

      My DH gets me to bed on time (except during baseball season, he’s pretty good about turning the TV off at 10 pm) – most of the shows I enjoy are on at 10 pm but if I watch them, I’m really dragging at 5:30 when I have to get up for work. On the veggie front though, he fails – I’m the “eat more veggies” person in the relationship.

  • KTMARIE

    “These changes also mean fielding questions about where K is and how sad she must be to miss this, and I’m still trying to figure out a delicate way to say that what we’re doing right now is something she’d hate, but that’s not a reflection on your or my choices”

    After being together 6 years, this is still the part I have trouble with. I completely relate to your post – thank you! We started dating in college, when the default was always going out with people on the weekends, but once we moved in together and entered the ‘real world’ I realized how that was not his default at ALL, but it was definitely mine. Over the years, with some difficult conversations and awkward situations, we’ve got a similar system that works. But I still have trouble providing ‘excuses’ for him, just as you said above. People seem confused/minorly insulted if I just say he didn’t feel like it…but I don’t like to make up reasons like he has to get up early or something. I’m open to other suggestions!

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      “And we still really like each other.”

      Yes! It’s interesting. We accept that our friends will do things that we have no interest in. But there’s much more concern for how the two of you are doing if you’re not doing the same social things. Nevermind that different people have different needs.

    • Mira

      I also have trouble coming up with ‘excuses’ for my partner when he doesn’t feel like socialising with my friends. It’s especially hard because I really want him to get to know my friends well and I always feel so bummed when he doesn’t join me. It never used to be an issue until all his friends (ALL of them) moved away due to their jobs – now he rarely socialises and it worries me. I don’t want us to be even more isolated than we already are in this city!

      • http://www.xwebseries.com Cali

        I have this same issue! My husband originally moved to our city with his two closest guy friends, who he’s known since middle school and college, respectively. But about a year ago, both of those guys moved away. We have a lot of mutual friends, but he doesn’t really have many people that he socializes with on his own and I worry. I just remind myself that I’m not responsible for his social life, and if he doesn’t feel a need to socialize more on his own then that’s his prerogative (he doesn’t seem depressed or anything, so who am I to judge?)… though I do make sure to encourage solo socializing whenever the opportunity presents itself.

      • Cleo

        My partner rarely sees his friends — even the ones who live near us. He just doesn’t feel an urge to spend time around people. We discuss frequently that it feels like a miracle he enjoys spending so much time around/with me because he tends to like being alone more often than not.

        I don’t know your partner, but what I’m saying is that he might be happy without people around. You should talk to him and see if he feels like he’s missing out or is he actually happy to be alone and doesn’t feel isolated.

        • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

          Oh! This twist on the month’s theme. Beyond the “you need friends for when something goes wrong in the relationship/life”, but the “your partner needs friends for the bad times too.”

          Because, beyond encouraging my partner to have friends and saying it’s okay to spend time with them without us, I don’t know what I can do. I talk about the role of my large support network, but don’t know who all he feels like he can turn to.

          • MDBethann

            My husband works from home and seems completely content to just interact with me and the cats. He chats occasionally with some of his work friends, but they all work from home too and don’t live nearby.

            I too, worry about his lack of a friendly support system, but we’ve started getting to know some of our neighbors, and hopefully once we have children he’ll get to become friends with some other parents.

            The good news is that while they live a couple of hours away, he’s close with both of his parents and his sister and brother-in-law, who were incredibly supportive of him during the dissolution of his 1st marriage. From what he’s told me, he lost touch with a lot of his college friends when he got divorced (they met in college) and he’s just not a social person – it takes him a long time to warm up to people, but when he does, they really like him.

            I think some day he’ll have friends to talk to, though I doubt he’ll ever have poker night or anything like that with them.

            I’ve learned to be okay with that, as long as he’s okay with me going out to the theater or to museums or to dinner with my female friends.

    • http://myneuroticgirlfriend@wordpress.com Sarah

      We find it tiring trying to come up with excuses as well. I’m the introverted one in the relationship, and there are times when going to a raging party is the absolute last thing I want to do. There have been a few times when my fiance has said as much, and just explained it’s a general personality thing, not anything against these particular friends or this particular event. “You know, Sarah doesn’t really drink and dancing makes her feel self conscious, so going to parties isn’t much fun for her. But she’s sad to miss out on seeing you. She suggested we grab dinner sometime next week.” Most friends are understanding. More often, our friends’ responses are “oh yeah, it’s an introvert/extrovert thing. My partner/sister/friend is like that too. Tell her we missed her.”

      • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

        That’s smart. I’m not often in the excuse-making position, but if the crowd doesn’t accept something simple “This really isn’t his jam,” or “He wasn’t feeling up to it tonight,” then more honesty is better. “He’s had a long day/week and needs some alone time to decompress,” or “He’s in the middle of a really good book, so I can’t fault him for that!” As long as you’re upbeat and cheerful when you say it, friends and acquaintances alike should see that it’s no big deal and move on with the conversation.

        Personally, I like to throw in terrible jokes as well– like “I need him to be well-rested for later– wink wink”

        • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

          I love your joke add-on, but let me say also that it’s not necessarily only a joke. The first time my then-boyfriend/now-husband went out without me to wingman for a single friend, the first words out of his mouth when he got home were, “I’m so glad I met you.” And me, in bed, all well-rested, so… I do go out sometimes, but bars and clubs aren’t my favorite, so it works out that we’re both ok with me sometimes staying home. He gets to relive his young, single days, except now he knows he’s for sure going to bed with a hot chick at the end of the night.

          • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

            Totally agree! I’m way more frisky after a night out with friends. And then the mood is contagious. . .

      • Jo

        My husband completely stresses about the excuses. He really values his alone time and doesn’t really like most social situations. However, he really cares about his closest friends, and internally feels strongly that those relationships are important. So he really hates turning down invitations and really struggles with making excuses, both to the friends and to himself. What’s painful for me is seeing him tell himself that the friends just aren’t that important, as a way to make himself feel better. He consistently gets himself into situations where he agrees to participate or attend some social event, and then either freaks out about having to do it, or flakes at the last minute. After 5 1/2 years together, it’s no longer so confusing to me, but it’s still difficult to deal with when those plans involve me.

        And this doesn’t even begin to touch on how he feels about activities with my friends, or potential new friends. If there’s something that we both may attend, I’m often happy to commit and go but let him be noncommittal. If he doesn’t attend, I either tell people he had a lot of work to do, or had a rough week at work and needs a break, or something of that sort, depending on who I’m speaking to. Most people are cool about it.

    • MDBethann

      While my husband and I met long after college, lots of socializing is not his default either. So if I want to do something theatery or go out with girlfriends, he often stays home and no one bats an eye. But I do get him to do small group things, like dinner with another couple or two, and I also drag him to family parties (it’s family, we need to both put in an appearance, especially since it’s only twice a year – thank goodness for living in a different state!). And, if friends ask us to a party for their kids or something, I get him to go, but then I usually plan a fun “just us” activity afterwards so we can limit our time at the event and my introverted DH doesn’t become grumpy and exhausted.

  • catherine

    Love this. Comforting to read too, as an engaged lesbo. My partner is way more of a “partier” that I am. I love laughing on the floor at random Taco Bells (I’m from the South) and driving the venues late into night to see a band, roadtrips, things like that, but in my day to day life I’m quite happy at home with Dateline. I’m kind of picky with other humans (I admit it!) and I have always had a very small (BUT INCREDIBLY VALUABLE) group of friends, who are not just friends but friend-soul-mates, my family, my core. Those people don’t live in my city. So I am just as happy going to bar with my partner, but am still a total homebody. She enjoys random “parties” way more so it’s nice to see that it’s okay that are different in that area, and it doesn’t mean OH MY GOD WE WANT DIFFERENT LIFESTYLES AND WILL NEVER WORK.

  • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

    Oh, I just love Elisabeth and her posts. Especially this one. Just like her, I am still learning to navigate our social differences, although mine journey is about four years old. I miss that single version of myself too, even though single self was not too nice to herself and often vowed to never do that again…and then totally did. So it’s nice to gain a little more calm side of myself, even if it’s born of Jethro’s urging.
    And I say gain because I still stay me. I’m sorry, but no matter how long I’m married, I will always think that 2am is the perfect time to sit on the couch, eat pretzels and fold laundry and while watching Grey’s Anatomy whole softly sobbing into your clean undies. (DENNY!)

    Also, did anyone else immediately go to the Hammacher-Schlemmer website and order a catalog? Their marketing department is going to be so confused….

  • http://www.xwebseries.com Cali

    This is so fascinating to me! I’m straight, but I actually had this dilemma with a lesbian friend of mine a while back. My girlfriends and I have regular girls’ nights, where we basically all get together at a restaurant, a bar, or someone’s house, drink a lot of margaritas and wine, and talk about girly things. I made a new friend that I wanted to invite to the outings, and she was a lesbian. I had met her partner, and I was paralyzed wondering if I ought to invite them both or not. Super interesting to hear that this is kind of an ongoing cultural issue, and not just me! Haha.

    Also, for the first chunk of our relationship, my husband would come to pretty much everything I invited him to, whether he really wanted to go or not. Eventually, as we got more comfortable with each other, he started being able to say “no” to things he didn’t actually want to go to. Funnily, we’re actually both introverts, but I have a guilt complex and have trouble saying no. He doesn’t really have that problem, and through being together I’ve gotten better at being able to turn down social invitations when I really just want to stay home and/or have no more social energy to expend. Though I’m still the one that attends more social outings.

  • Jo

    I had never really considered the relationship v social-life issues of a lesbian couple in this way, thank you for sharing. Even as a straight couple, this piece is incredibly comforting, and so are the comments!
    Other people have written about how being a good partnership can be about so much more than just wanting to do the same things with your free time, but somehow this take on it just hit home.

  • SamanthaNichole

    Side Note: tell me about the farm shares in Ditmas Park. I live in Kensington and am currently looking for one to join! Any suggestions?!

  • http://theambershow.net Amber Marlow, theAmberShow

    I’ve been thinking about this all afternoon, as I am currently smeared with sunscreen and sprawled seaside at a resort in the Caribbean while my newish boyfriend explores the local culture, taking smelly hot buses through narrow streets that occasionally have to yield to goats. We’re both happy in our respective activities, but I’ve been worried it’s Not Ok to spend hours apart on vacation… I think I have a fresh new perspective.

    I am also totally in for queer dance parties in Brooklyn, should you find you need a buddy. I’m pretty straight, but man can lesbians dance.

    • Jaime

      this is basically how my husband and i vacation. he gets up at the crack of dawn, explores/drinks coffee/reads papers/talks to strangers while i sleep in and then we meet up for brunch. it’s pretty similar to how our weekends work, too, since i’ve worked night shift most of our decade together and do not usually emerge from my bed cocoon until noonish.

    • http://www.smittenchickens.com SarahHoppes

      I WANNA COME DANCING IN BROOKLYN TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  • Kirstin

    This is something that I struggle with too, ever since my partner and I moved two years ago. I have developed a wide social circle in our new city with both other women, but also co-ed crowds. He hasn’t – he doesn’t really have any friends of his own. When I go out, I know that he doesn’t want to be doing what I am doing, but I also experience a lot of guilt leaving him at home to sit in front of the tv. When I do bring him, he is uncomfortable and usually wants to leave right away. His discomfort and shyness comes across as “I’m a douche bag,” and I end up getting mad at him for not engaging with the group and for ruining my fun time.

    We do end up spending a lot of time together because any outing for him usually involves me tagging along. I end up seeing movies that I would rather he watch with guy-friends, and eating a whole lot of wings and drinking a lot of beer. Not a problem per say, but I do miss going for sushi or brunch with the girls and having that freedom to set my own schedule without the guilt.

    We talk a lot about how I cannot be his only friend, but that doesn’t mean that he should just adopt my friends as his own. It seems really hard to make friends as an adult, but definitely more so for guys. I loved Rachel’s post earlier this month about finding friends, but don’t know if my partner would take any of those suggestions. He isn’t at a place where he is comfortable to put himself out there like that. It just makes me really sad because I see how happy that he is when he gets to be around his close friends, people he is genuinely comfortable with. He laughs so much more. And we are both happier.

    I know that we cannot go on like this forever, because we each do need “me time.” Until he has some things of his own, the strain on our relationship will continue. I just know I cannot make friends for him. But what else can you do?

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      This! The tension between wanting your partner to have the social supports they need and not being able to make friends for them. It’s hard. I don’t have a clue of answers.

  • Carbon Girl

    This is great. I totally understand where you are coming from with the “how sad X must be to miss this.” I got that countless times when I was out late at bars in grad school and my hard working husband was happily asleep. The questions were usually accompanied by pitying looks. I hated feeling like I had to justify/defend the arrangement.

  • Eenie

    I love this whole piece. Also, paleo, yay! And kombucha. So good. Everyone needs to try it.

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    I relate to the part where your friends are concerned that you’ve changed for your partner, even though the changes are ones you know to be good for you. I started running and generally got more healthy and active after I met my husband. While most people were happy for me and supportive, there was still a sense that maybe I was pretending to be someone I’m not to please a man. Would I rather stay up late on Friday night eating cheese fries than get up early Saturday morning to run? Oh, hell yes. I haven’t changed who I am. I just changed what I do (most of the time). It would never have been a sustainable change if it was only for him. Fortunately, I’d recognized before I ever met him that sloth and gluttony weren’t really working for me and I know I’m happier now that I’m in much better shape. He gave me the push to get started, but I keep it up for myself.

    The bedtime thing is killer though. I’m naturally nocturnal. I go to bed when he does because life goes more smoothly when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. But I miss late night TV and just powering through to finish a good book, even if that’s not until 4am.

  • http://www.gayspornosex.com gay sex

    If that is the case, wouldn’t most high school students need to be arrested then? How many do you think actually restrain themselves and don’t have sex?

  • http://sexadvicefrom1949.tumblr.com Miss Construde

    You have to say ‘Oh, you know K, my little introvert – she’s at home doing her K thing, finessing her paleo cooking, watching obscure British programs’. I am an introvert but my partner is even more of an introvert, and that’s what I say to people when I go out without him. (He likes to stay at home, watch obscure 70s films and play guitar.)

    This isn’t meant to sound patronising or insulting, either. I would actually love it if more people would say that about us introverts. People’s expectation that an introvert is missing out comes from the underlying, insidious promotion of being extroverted as an ideal – so going out is seen as the best thing to do and staying home the worst, even though half the population would probably prefer to stay at home watching obscure entertainment of their choice.

    We also do the ‘Hey come along to this event if you want’ ‘Will you be upset if I don’t go’ ‘Yes I will be upset, I’d really like you to come along’ or ‘Nope, I won’t mind if you skip this one’. Doing this for some upcoming weddings – he has one friend wedding to go to, I have two. Both of my friends’ weddings are interstate so I’m ok if he doesn’t attend one of those.