My Brother challenged how I viewed the Relationship with my Boyfriend
My elder brother and I are close — and if necessary we point out each other’s flaws.
“Don’t you and your boyfriend have any mutual interests?” My elder brother was looking at me curiously.
Do we need to have them? I asked myself, and at the same time, I was feeling ashamed that it has never really come to my mind before.
“Not really, I guess”, my voice didn’t appear to quiver, at least for me, but he seemed to notice too that our usually trusted and familiar talking-about-everything ambiance got suddenly uncomfortable.
I thought back at the one and a half years of relationship with my boyfriend.
The late afternoons after school and the weekends when we met: Usually we went for a walk with his dog, or cuddled in bed, watching Netflix. Most of the time we talked and kissed more than we were actually watching. During this first couple of months, we were gradually getting to know each other better.
My brother was shocked: “Well, I don’t want to discourage you but honestly, I think it’s problematic that you don’t have some mutual hobbies. It would be better if both of you had some things you both enjoy doing, and some hobbies both of you have unrelated to the other.”
Well, at least one thing we certainly both enjoy doing…
As if he could read my mind, my brother laughed: “No, I mean other things than just that thing.”
After eight months we started dating, my boyfriend moved 850 km away from our hometown to study at university. Things obviously changed but we trusted each other and were certain that we can do this. The fact that we didn’t see each other so often anymore and that we mainly could communicate via phone was hard, although it improved our ability to communicate.
What my brother said certainly made me think: As he told me that our lack of mutual hobbies is problematic, I finally realized what has changed the most since we are in a long-distance relationship: How we spend time together.
It wasn’t an easy-peasy wanna come over let’s ‘Netflix and chill’ my parents aren’t home — thing anymore.
Since we are in a long-distance relationship, I visit him approximately once a month for a few days (during a long weekend or school holidays). It was very unusual in the beginning because it seemed as we are living together (yes, only for a couple of days), but it means nevertheless: doing household chores like cooking, buying groceries, cleaning, etc.
We had a lot of fun, though, and I liked to act as if we were adults now, living happily together.
But the issue my brother indicated was right: When I stayed with my boyfriend we couldn’t just lay in bed the whole day watching Netflix. That’s not what real adults do, after all?!
I mean, yes, we did some sightseeing, some shopping the first time I visited. But slowly it became normal that I did something on my own most of the time (exploring the city, reading, studying for school), and he too (stuff for university or working on his projects).
Sometimes we argued about it because I pointed out that if I have come from so far to see him I want to really do something together.
His opinion was that I just said I want to spend “quality time” together but I never really suggested something concrete what we could do. I said that it’s unfair that he demanded constantly that I should come up with ideas, why doesn’t he say something that we could do? But eventually we found something to do, and I quickly forgot about this issue.
But now as I talked with my brother about it — I finally realized the reason why I’ve always had this uncomfortable feeling when deciding with my boyfriend on how we’ll spend time together.
I immediately called my boyfriend, because I finally could point out the problem (thanks to my wise brother), and I wanted to find a solution for it together.
He didn’t see that there is a problem, though.
He told me: “We can still do various things together. Say something you want to do and I will be part of it.”
I brought the example that I like hiking but mentioned that I know he doesn’t like it, so I wouldn’t want to force him to be part of it.
“So what? Who says I must absolutely always do things that I like? I certainly can do them for your sake!“
I wasn’t convinced, though.
Maybe that’s the case now when we’re still young and in love… but later on?
But then he stated: “Actually, it’s a huge advantage if it’s like this. We could say, for example, every time we see each other we try to do something new. I mean, I am now living in a big city, do you know how many possibilities we actually have? We could just go and… try doing pottery for example!”
I was amused: “I’ve never done that before.”
“Me neither, but that’s the fun part of it! Or we go to the park and play badminton. Whatever, we can just choose something randomly and probably it’ll be really fun!”
It was an unexpected new point of view for this whole story:
Making an advantage out of a disadvantage. (or: the obstacle is the way)
He instantly pointed out the good things about the whole fact that we don’t have much in common.
“Imagine, if we had a mutual hobby, we would do the same thing most of the time, because we like it and feel comfortable. Instead, it’s way more exciting to try out unusual things, have a lot of fun and even discover new stuff that we enjoy!”
By identifying what’s really the issue and pointing directly at it, we were able to solve it.
I think it’s enough that we have the same sense of humor and like spending time together — on what, that’s secondary.