How much should people endure with significant others that they would otherwise find painfully boring or never do on their own? Example: boyfriends' going to something artsy-fartsy with their girlfriends, girlfriends' going to extreme-sports events with boyfriends.

I enjoy going to things my boyfriend likes but that I dislike because I'm spending time with him doing something he really enjoys. It makes me happy he's sharing his interests with me. He, however, does not feel the same about occasionally doing "my thing" with me. Can you predict where I'm going with this?


Probably, but it would be so much more useful if you just said it.

To him.

Apparently, and I think rightly, you believe that your having some non-mutual interests is both normal and legitimate.

But I believe it's just as legitimate to have different approaches to different interests. You want to accept your differences together; he wants to accept them apart. You want to show your love by being at his side; he wants to show his love by not rolling his eyes at your side. You see enduring painful boredom as an act of love; he sees your not forcing him to endure painful boredom as an act of love.

Treat his opinion as an equal to yours and see if it's one you can live with. Maybe he is blowing you off, and maybe you're needy. But maybe you're both just one level of tolerance away from being great together.

While you have your mind open, try looking a few years ahead to see how long the thrill of being with him will remain potent enough to inoculate your love against death by X-cruciating board-om. (Get it, huh huh?) Could be some approaches to un-common interests are in fact more equal than others.

Dear Carolyn:

Last weekend, my father-in-law said something I cannot forget and doubt I can forgive. My sister- and mother-in-law were discussing psychotherapy (both work in this field). The conversation escalated and my FIL said all people with mental illnesses are weak and if they just had the courage they wouldn't be sick.

My grandfather was a paranoid schizophrenic and spent 20 years in and out of hospitals. It took an enormous force of will for him to exist outside the institutions. Obviously, I was so hurt by my FIL's comments that I exploded and had to apologize later, which made me feel like I sold out my grandfather.

How do I come to a point where I can see my FIL socially and be civil? This isn't the first glaringly offensive, uniformed and rude thing he has said/done, and this time I think he went too far.


I can see why you lost your composure then, but now you're granting your father-in-law's statement far more power than it deserves. It wasn't about your grandfather; it was about his own (breathtaking and, given the company he keeps, apparently willful) ignorance.

So while forgiving and forgetting are two excellent institutions, don't set your sights so high. Instead try an intermediate goal -- the venerable "whatever." You needn't like or respect him; it's a relationship of proximity, not choice, so you need only be civil. Anticipate his ignorance, pity it, ignore it and smile, smile, smile.

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