Relationship counsellor Andrew Bonner says: ‘In the past ten years, I’ve seen an increase in couples who don’t actually hate each other, they just don’t love each other — because they feel suffocated.
Ninety per cent of these marriages could be saved if they realised that dependence can be damaging.’One of my favourite hobbies is singing; whenever a boyfriend has heard me sing in public (I occasionally perform jazz standards at parties and nightclubs) I am at my best.
Whenever I mentioned seeing mutual friends alone or catching a film that was not to his taste, he objected vociferously, saying his parents had ‘done everything together’.Enforced togetherness can also be a panic reflex, a fear that your partner’s independence would threaten your relationship.As the consort of a highly-sexed former politician, she was all too aware of her husband’s errant ways.As a result, she offered him the choice of separate summer holidays and, after one August chasing girls in Italy, he returned to London, exhausted, impoverished and more in love with his wife than ever. Most of us might not be emotionally capable of this sort of relationship, but as infidelity can be a way of expressing anger, or regaining a feeling of empowerment, we can do much to prevent it by making togetherness a treat, rather than something to be endured like eating one’s greens.Boredom is part of the human lot but, with the internet, mobile phones, cheap travel and reading of the allegedly glamorous lives and sexual pursuits of the famous, we are losing our capacity to endure it.
The most enduring form of affection should encourage a sense of adventure.But instead of this show of togetherness bringing us closer, I began to hate him more and more.Why is it that today, Western romantic mores encourage, if not compel, men and women to be mutually dependent — from celebrities snapped in passionate clinches, to couples enthusiastically sharing their free time? Take that now ex-boyfriend who liked to climb mountains in Austria.(For an update on this statistic go to “Can Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed?Revisited”) But a statistic is just that, and doesn’t tell you anything about your own individual situation.It should be robust, rather than timid and dependent, desiring excellence on the part of its object, and the fulfilment of potential.