[“Guest” Post Series] Relationship Tips: #4 – It isn’t your job to entertain your significant other.

Today’s “guest” blogger is me. ‘Cause I ran outta guests.

My phone buzzed on the nightstand next to my bed. Happy to hear from him, I answered. But not feeling so well, I was mellow and not much in the mood for talking.

“I’m really sorry I’m so boring tonight,” I told him.

He – then the guy in my life – paused thoughtfully. When he spoke, he said something I didn’t expect:

“I didn’t know it was your job to entertain me. …I just want to talk to you.”

When he said it, I realized a meaningful relationship isn’t based on how entertained you are by the person, or how happy the person makes you. I also realized in a relationship worth your time, you won’t be judged or dumped because you’re “boring” sometimes, or because you can’t make the other person happy.

Why?

Because in a good relationship, it is not your job to entertain your significant other.

If it were, your relationship would be based on a “friendship of utility,” in which “the affection is based on the benefit or use the friends derive from the relationship.”

It is not your job to make him or her happy.

If it were, your relationship would be based on a “pleasant friendship,” in which “the basis of affection is the pleasure one gets out of the relationship.”

There is another kind of friendship on which a relationship might be based – one that is deeper. It doesn’t require your relationship to end if one of you gets boring. It doesn’t require you to be responsible for the other person’s feelings. It’s a “virtuous friendship,” in which “the two friends are united not in self-interest but in the pursuit of a common goal: the good life, moral life that is found in virtue.”

A virtuous friendship is the kind that takes the pressure off. The kind that makes a marriage.

“The problem with useful and pleasant friendships is that the emphasis is on what I get out of the relationship. However, in the virtuous friendship the two friends are committed to pursuing something outside themselves, something that goes beyond each of their own self interests. And it is this higher good that united them in friendship.”

It is this higher good for which we all ought to aim.

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Quoted material above comes from Men, Women and the Mystery of Love by Edward Sri. The three kinds of friendship come from the philosophy of Aristotle.

Relationship Tips is a series of guest posts (except for this one, lol). Click here to read all the posts in the series.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • So does that mean I shouldn’t just date because I’m bored?

  • Certainly true. A person looking for entertainment will be bored to death by marriage and family life. The ultimate “Reality Show”–which is actual, real, ordinary life–is mostly boring.

    On the other hand, its important to distinguish between “entertaining” and one of the essential VIRTUES for human living, and especially for marriage and parenthood, namely “having a sense of humor”! We all have one innately, but we must cultivate it and allow it to take shape in response to the circumstances of life.

    I’m not sure Aristotle listed humor among the virtues. But he knew about *beauty*. True humor is born from a persistent affection for beauty and a determination to find its hidden places. True humor is an expression–sometimes even a heroic expression–of hope.

  • The idea of Christ-centered friendship throws a curve ball at the greed-centered, over-sexualized world we live in today. Mistrust, disbelief and stereotypes make it especially difficult for the virtuous Christian single. And I don’t think the digital age we live in has helped the situation. To a certain extent, I think people would rather be entertained with the internet, Honey Boo Boo, and social media rather than have a face-to-face conversation. In the singles world, if romance is taken off the table, it takes something just short of a miracle just for a “hello.” Like you said, the number one question is always “what’s in it for me?” I’ve actually thought maybe I should offer my fingerprints and photo ID before I say hello — to any single girl. Imagine what Apostle Paul would say about Facebook and Twitter. Since a husband and wife mirror the marriage between Christ and the church, I don’t think entertainment should be a priority. Hospitable – yes. Life of the party – no.