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My worst nightmare in high school was becoming a soccer mom someday
September 26, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm worried about feeling too "boring" or "domestic" in my long-term relationship. Also, how to keep things exciting on a budget?

I'm really happy in my long-term relationship, but am sometimes concerned that we're becoming too settled, domestic, or routine. Of course, I recognize that being "boring" is only a problem if it actually bothers you, and I suspect that I'm almost more upset by the idea of myself as a "domestic" person than the reality. So maybe what I'm asking is - what are good ways to accept and recognize a version of yourself that is older, settled, and totally happy with it?

Also, my partner and I live in a major urban area, so there is certainly no shortage of things to do. Unfortunately most of them - especially real things you can do at say, 8pm on a Saturday night - all cost money. I've seen threads that talk about this, but most of the suggestions are for things to do during the day, not really free stuff you can do on weekend evenings. Also, sometimes I feel like I'm not "taking advantage" of the benefits of living in a city by not going out enough on the weekends, but it really gets expensive! And then I get to thinking, why bother spending X amount on drinks in a loud bar when I can also spend quality time with a partner at home, and THEN it's like, why bother living in an awesome place when you are just at home anyway? Any thoughts or experience with this would be appreciated, as well as ways to reframe the situation.
posted by leedly to Human Relations (26 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you and your partner have mutual friends? Have them over on those Saturday nights for game night, dinner or maybe just drinks! I feel like my entire summer is eaten up in such a way and really, I find more enjoyable than just going out to the bar to meet them. Of course that is not to say that Mr. WWW and I don't enjoy walking to our nearest drinking hole for a night cap and heading back, but really doing things with other couples/singles/whoever is always fun.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 9:03 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been on a pretty serious budget for the last year, and our solution was to invite people over for dinner and drinks which ends up costing much less than going out, but still gives the social interaction. We usually plan to go out to a fun dinner or other more expensive activity at least once a month, which also makes me feel less like I'm not taking advantage of things around me.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 9:06 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seconding Nimmie Amee's inviting people over! I do that once a month, and it's always a pretty casual thing - we don't really do anything, I just cook some delicious things for everyone and we all just eat and hang out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:12 AM on September 26, 2012


Honestly, the only time I feel like I'm boring is when I visit major metropolitan areas, where there seems to exist a pressure to be scheduled to the brim.

I live out in the country, relatively speaking. And I love it. Most nights are spent cuddled up with my husband on the sofa watching television. I garden. We cook. I go for long walks in the woods. But if I wanted to, my weekends could be fully scheduled. There are festivals nearly every weekend (a garlic festival this weekend! A wool festival coming up! A rib festival a few weeks ago!), apple picking, free movies at the CSA where we get our veggies, movies for cheap at the drive-in, local museums and sculpture gardens. When we have friends over, it's for a BBQ or to play board games or to have a bonfire in our back yard and honestly, only my city friends seem to mind that we're not doing enough. To be fair, our pace of life is much slower than theirs. But it makes me happy.

Honestly, it required a bit of an internal paradigm shift, settling down. I used to have fantasies about living a metropolitan life, but I also had fantasies about living a cozy, peaceful, grungy life, a la the Murrys in A Wrinkle in Time. There's values in both models, and it's okay, as you get older and more settled, to realize that the old model doesn't work for you any more.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:15 AM on September 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


It's only going to feel exciting if your partner is also on board.
posted by discopolo at 9:25 AM on September 26, 2012


House parties are the solution. You can go potluck for the meal (cost savings for everyone!) and drinking at home is typically cheaper than drinking at the bar.

Going out when you can afford it is obviously fun and should be embraced, but don't feel like you need to go out EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND. Staying in with your SO is fine. Having friends over (or going to their place) is fine.

I also live in a decent-sized city with lots to do, but most of the time my wife and I end up hanging out with friends at our house or theirs. We go out, but we have fun and don't feel like we're being boring on those weekends when we just invite a few friends over to play board games.
posted by asnider at 9:25 AM on September 26, 2012


Are you on the email lists for coffee shops and performance spaces in your area? The place I work has free events every Fri/Sat., which we mainly promote using our mailing list and Facebook page.
posted by spunweb at 9:46 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Spend time apart sometimes. Try spending more time apart than you think is healthy, even — you might be surprised at what's actually the right amount. Spend time working on your own shit, or hanging out with your own friends, or pursuing your own interests. Cultivate really close friendships with other people — not just "I go out once a week with The Guys/Gals and we drink cosmos and watch football" or whatever but like "yeah, this is someone who knows as much about my hopes and dreams as my partner does, and I know just as much about theirs."

The best way to keep a relationship evolving is to keep having new and interesting things to tell each other about. And the best way to do that is to have lives apart that are just as interesting as your life together.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:56 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Expanding on spunweb's comment, I'll point out that coffee shops can be a great source of cheap entertainment. For the price of a cup of coffee (and possibly a small tip for the performer) you can see live music on most Friday and Saturday nights. Not all coffeehouses do this, obviously, so getting on a mailing list like spunweb suggests would be wise.

If either of you is musically inclined, or is into poetry/storytelling, open mic nights are also a great source of entertainment. They're usually free and you get to show off your talents. Occasionally, you can even walk out with more money than you came in with if there is a prize for the best performance of the night.
posted by asnider at 10:00 AM on September 26, 2012


You might try to save and splurge. So let's say you can both agree to each putting aside $20 a week. In five weeks, you have $200 to spend on a pretty nice night out. I like the idea that you would create a level where once it reaches $200, you spend it down to less than $50, and you can only spend it on fun. Adjust this to meet your budget and tendencies.

Don't mistake this for real savings. If you don't have a good plan for that, you should figure that out first and maybe make this a $5/week for now and spend it on a movie every couple of weeks. The real key is giving yourselves the commitment to save this little sum and the freedom to spend it. Think of it as an obligation to live it up now and then.
posted by advicepig at 10:07 AM on September 26, 2012


I sympathize with your feelings, and I think it can be really fun to get out and try something new. Drinking in loud bars is just expensive and not very fun. There are often cheap or free concerts in our metropolitan area, which can be a nice way of getting out. Also movie screenings, especially at the local universities. There are especially a lot of nice outdoor concerts in the nice weather, and packing a picnic (with alcoholic drinks) can be surprisingly fun - heck, even a dinner picnic Without the concert can be fun if you're in a pretty spot. Try going out to dinner, but at little out-of-the-way ethnic restaurants that are inexpensive and don't even have booze - I was delighted to try Burmese food recently.

Another way to do it is to have the fun "going out" stuff during the day when things are cheaper, and save the evening for being at home.
posted by ldthomps at 10:10 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most major metropolitan areas have either a website or a weekly alternative paper or some such that maintains a list of free or cheap ($10 or under) things to do in the city. (Many of these alt weeklies also review cheap ethnic restaurants in the city). Weekend nights may well feature gallery openings, open mics, indie performances, loft parties, etc.

Make a pact with your significant other that one night a week, you will go to one of the events listed, no matter how weird/random/not to your taste it seems. I guarantee that the results will not be settled, domestic, or routine.

Also, pro tip from someone who has lived in major urban areas for the past thirteen years: Saturday nights are for amateurs. Everybody knows that's when the bars are crowded with suburbanites in town for a big night out, crowding up the bars and bopping to whatever bland, overproduced pop hit you can currently hear everywhere...

The whole point of living in a major urban area is being able to leave your house at 9 PM on a Wednesday, grab a drink or two with friends at the local hotspot, and still be home in bed by midnight.
posted by psycheslamp at 10:35 AM on September 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Can someone please explain to me how hosting people for dinner and drinks, where you'll probably spend a minimum on $100 on food and $50 on drinks to host like, 4-6 people, is any cheaper than going out where you are only paying for yourself and your partner? It's really expensive to host! I've really never quite figured it out how that's economical at all. Unless of course you do a potluck, but that's not something that you can get a crowd to do every weekend.
posted by greta simone at 10:48 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, one of the big switches for me in becoming settled and domestic was learning to moderate my drinking. When I go out to a bar or a party now, I almost never have more than two drinks over the course of the evening. It's easier on the wallet, easier on my body, and makes it much more likely that come the next day, I'll want to get out of the house and check out the cool, free things happening in the afternoon.

I realized that for me at least, I felt way more exciting and awesome the more I just left the house and did stuff regularly, than I did drinking and dancing til last call one night a week.
posted by psycheslamp at 10:49 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is a TON of free stuff happening in all urban areas.

When my ex-boyfriend and I were broke (we were drinkers) we would just get a cheap bottle of booze and drink it then go to art gallery openings, watch free shows in the park, etc. That's fun.
posted by ad4pt at 10:52 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can someone please explain to me how hosting people for dinner and drinks, where you'll probably spend a minimum on $100 on food and $50 on drinks to host like, 4-6 people, is any cheaper than going out where you are only paying for yourself and your partner? It's really expensive to host!

Easy: I don't spend that much. $100 on food, $50 on drinks? That's insane! I can throw together a big meal and buy a bottle or two wine for, what, $30-$50 total? And usually people coming over are willing to bring one or two things, like dessert and wine, which helps.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:53 AM on September 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can someone please explain to me how hosting people for dinner and drinks, where you'll probably spend a minimum on $100 on food and $50 on drinks to host like, 4-6 people, is any cheaper than going out where you are only paying for yourself and your partner? It's really expensive to host! I've really never quite figured it out how that's economical at all. Unless of course you do a potluck, but that's not something that you can get a crowd to do every weekend.

$100 on food? When I have people over for a BBQ, I spend maybe $30? And for my big annual Solstice dinner, probably about . . . sixty or so for a nice roast and sides? You don't need to buy your groceries at Whole Foods. You can buy a few bottles of ten dollar wine or a case of mid-level beer or cider. And if your friends are decent peeps, they'll ask what they can bring. My answer is usually to have food covered but to ask them to bring a bottle of wine or a dessert.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:56 AM on September 26, 2012


When Mrs. Director & I came to this same crossroads, we decided to go on adventures on a regular basis. We've tried to do one a month, where feasible.

First, though, we had to define what 'adventure' meant to us. Key here was that adventure != expedition. Adventures can be small, cheap, and near-to-hand. As small as, "Where does that road/trail go?" A lot of it comes down to attitude and definition.

Second, we looked (very) close to home to find adventures that fit our interests, styles, definitions, and budget. We found a great many.

Over the years our taste in adventures has grown some, which led to a couple of skydiving outtings and so forth.

But the budget restrictions forced us to poke around corners of our own state/region that we had overlooked for years. We've been to places most locals have heard about but never been, and plenty they've not even heard about.
posted by trinity8-director at 11:00 AM on September 26, 2012


Also, sometimes I feel like I'm not "taking advantage" of the benefits of living in a city by not going out enough on the weekends, but it really gets expensive! And then I get to thinking, why bother spending X amount on drinks in a loud bar when I can also spend quality time with a partner at home, and THEN it's like, why bother living in an awesome place when you are just at home anyway? Any thoughts or experience with this would be appreciated, as well as ways to re-frame the situation.

I think it comes down to whether you have money and don't want to spend it or if you just don't have any money.

To me, if you're too poor to do things, getting creative is great. Plenty of outdoor activities, visiting friends and exploring the cultural side of your region that rarely requires a lot of money. Look into community organizations that have volunteer opportunities to help out with a concert or festival in exchange for tickets, that kind of thing. Give a little, get a little.

If you're just not spending money because you think it's expensive, consider the fact that you only live once and that friends and good times are really important. I love splurging on my friends because their happiness makes me happier. More money in my bank account just makes me feel safer. I do both to ensure I feel safe and happy.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 11:42 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cooking, board games, and free/inexpensive concerts and shows of various stripes generally do it for me and my boyfriend. Have you looked into free stuff in your area? I'm in New York which is kind of the apex for that kind of thing--especially in the summer there's free Shakespeare, classical music, museum nights, etc etc. MoMA and the Guggenheim are free on Friday and Saturday nights respectively, for instance. I also like to go on adventure walks or subway rides to new places. And buying a few cheapish bottles of alcohol for home to mix your own drinks is also fun and much cheaper than going out.
posted by mlle valentine at 11:55 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can someone please explain to me how hosting people for dinner and drinks, where you'll probably spend a minimum on $100 on food and $50 on drinks

I think the disconnect here is that when you host, you can prepare everything or almost everything from scratch with an eye toward value, which just isn't an option when you eat out (BYOB is an interesting semi-exception, which might be worth exploring if it's legal in your neck of the woods).

It's not hard to drop $100 on prepared food for 6 people, but at the same time it's trivially easy to prepare the same amount of food at home for 20-40% of the cost. I'm not sure I could even break $100 on USDA prime steak for 6 from Costco, unless they were five to a tray.
posted by pullayup at 1:07 PM on September 26, 2012


Can someone please explain to me how hosting people for dinner and drinks, where you'll probably spend a minimum on $100 on food and $50 on drinks to host like, 4-6 people, is any cheaper than going out where you are only paying for yourself and your partner? It's really expensive to host! I've really never quite figured it out how that's economical at all.

Pasta. Pasta is your mother-effing friend in matters such as these. Pasta and cheap meat and vegetables. You spend less than thirty dollars to feed eight people. If people bring things, then it rounds out to an enormous meal. For drinks, you buy no-name wine and everyone has a glass or two - or you ask people to bring wine.

I think it is hard to hold a "Dinner Party" for less than 100$, but it is really, really easy to bring people over and serve them cheap food and enjoy their company. If you're hung up on what precisely you're feeding them, it's obviously going to be harder.
posted by corb at 1:32 PM on September 26, 2012


Can someone please explain to me how hosting people for dinner and drinks, where you'll probably spend a minimum on $100 on food and $50 on drinks...

What are you serving at these parties? I had a fabulous Provencal french spread for friends recently, where I served a French pizza-y thing, bread with tapenade, and a build-your-own salade nicoise or grand aioli bar. Here's what it came to:

olives for the tapenade and the salade nicoise: about $5
fancy-ass tuna: $8
vegetables for the salade nicoise: about $25
bread: $3
an extra head of garlic just in case: 50 cents
eggs: $2
Puff pastry for the pizza-y thing: $4
frozen cherries for the dessert I was making: $4

I already had mustard and a couple of the vegetables at home, along with olive oil and flour. So that was only about $50-60 for the food. I picked up one bottle of wine and one liqueur, and friends also brought wine.

That still is under $100 for 5 people.

I think you may be thinking "dinner party" like "pull-out-the-stops dinner where everyone dresses up and you sit down at the dinner table and it's a very formal thing," but the kind of feeding people we're talking about is "just come on over, I'll whip something up maybe".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:53 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can someone please explain to me how hosting people for dinner and drinks, where you'll probably spend a minimum on $100 on food and $50 on drinks to host like, 4-6 people, is any cheaper than going out where you are only paying for yourself and your partner? It's really expensive to host! I've really never quite figured it out how that's economical at all.

Potluck and BYOB. Alternatively, everyone takes turns playing host, so while you might spend $100 in one night, it balances out because you're spending nothing for several other nights when it is someone else's turn.

Also, as a few others have said upthread, it doesn't have to be fancy. Order a pizza. Open some chips.

The big cost, for me, is usually the alcohol rather than the food. Occasionally, I will provide the booze when I'm hosting but most of the time it's BYOB. I suppose the social acceptability of this will depend on where you live, but if it is socially acceptable in your area then go for it.
posted by asnider at 2:25 PM on September 26, 2012


I'm really happy in my long-term relationship, but am sometimes concerned that we're becoming too settled, domestic, or routine.

Do not be frightened of happiness. You have found a life that makes you happy. Live it.

As for doing it on the cheap: do simple experiences. Have simple picnics in good weather. Have simple beer and wine parties in bad weather. Encourage everyone to bring their own stuff. You could frame it as tasting parties, where everyone brings their favorite wine or beer, or everyone shows how to make their favorite cocktails (but they need to bring the ingredients), or everyone brings ingredients for stone soup. If it's something you know nothing about, beer snobs and wine snobs and foodies will love a chance to educate you.

If you're afraid you're missing out on culture, you need to cultivate cultured friends you can have over for drinks and gab. Carry on the cultural conversation in your own home. How to meet such people? Well, try taking a few carefully chosen classes or going to one or two art openings or readings that you think would attract the sort of person you want to befriend. It's not as if your town is running short of educational institutions or museums. I've lived there. There are things to do, and they don't all cost a million dollars.
posted by pracowity at 3:33 AM on September 27, 2012


Fun sex is free.
posted by Katine at 8:16 AM on September 27, 2012


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