I support you... to a reasonable degree
September 18, 2012 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Your SO is a performer who performs multiple times a week. How frequently do you go to their shows?

I ask because I think I dealt with this situation poorly before, and I want to avoid swinging too far in the other direction with a new person.

I used to date a guy who was a talented performer. He usually had two to four shows a week. And because I was young and in love, and didn't have many friends of my own in a new town, and was insecure and wanted to make him happy, I went to almost every single show. This wasn't something I did against my will- I loved his fellow performers, I liked seeing his work, I always had fun at his shows- but after two years or so I realized, hey, I barely have my own life anymore! Any time we go out, it's to go to one of his shows, or a competing show, or to hang with his show friends! And I haven't made enough friends of my own because I'm always doing this! It wound up being one of the factors in our breakup, and it wouldn't have even been a problem if I had thought, early on, to establish better boundaries. I didn't know I needed them, or even think I wanted them, back then.

So now it's now, and there is a new guy, and I want to date him. But he is also a performer, with a similar time commitment to his work. And more than half of his invites to come hang out have been "come to my show and let's hang out afterwards." But I really don't want to be a groupie again. But I like him, and I know his schedule as a performer is limited on nights and weekends... and I do want to support him, and I like his work...

So basically, what's reasonable? Once a week, less, more? I did notice that, with my ex, I would barely ever see the spouses of his married co-performers at shows...
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Me? Once or twice a month, mostly if there were definite plans for afterward.
posted by sanka at 7:00 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

For me, depends on the show. My husband is in a few bands, and does live rock karaoke. I go to more band shows than karaoke, because he has breaks in the former, not for the latter. If I goto a karaoke show, I make sure I have a couple friends. Also, depends on my schedule, I have a day job in an office, he works from home, and has more leeway on waking up a little later.
posted by kellyblah at 7:07 PM on September 18, 2012

I would go occasionally, maybe once a week if he was performing that often, but also get really used to saying: "I've been meaning to catch up with (friend's name), so why don't I go do that, and then come kidnap you after the show."

That implies that you have a life of your own (and then puts pressure on you to make real plans with your friends), and that you aren't so interested in joining the after-party scene: you'd rather sneak off with him.

Be sure to set an actual time. Shows run over and people lose track when they're having fun, so it's good to be a little flexible, but it will send the message that there is a schedule, and you're on it.
posted by hermitosis at 7:08 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

I am wife of a former full-time musician and the ex-girlfriend of several. I say you're good for a couple times a month maybe. Definitely for "big" shows that are special for whatever reason, the venue or the other acts on the bill or it's a birthday party as well as a gig or whatever. Sometimes, maybe, just show up at the end to have a nightcap and do the hang out afterwards part (go somewhere else fun first! With YOUR friends!)

You are not obligated to go to all of the gigs, nor expected to, but make sure he knows that if there's a night he really wants you there, to let you know so you can plan around it.
posted by padraigin at 7:08 PM on September 18, 2012 [9 favorites]

In a serious/committed relationship: It depends on your schedule and what else you have going on. I would probably not go to a show more than once a week, and only if we had definite plans to hang out either before or after. I would also not turn down other activities I have going on in order to go to shows unless it was something particularly special (i.e. a rare chance to open for a famous band, etc.) since I would know the opportunity will keep coming around frequently.

Since this is a new partner, I would probably lean toward less than once a week since going to someone's show is presumably you sitting there watching him rather than you guys interacting. You're not supposed to be 'supporting' someone you just met, even if you do enjoy the show. I would suggest maybe 1-2 times per month, or only for special occasions. You could still plan to meet up after a show, or make plans on different nights where you guys can actually interact and get to know each other better, but I feel like it creates a weird dynamic for someone to continually ask you to watch them perform when you guys aren't in a serious relationship - or at least it would make me uncomfortable.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:11 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

For special performances, or whenever it makes sense for your date night to be a gig. Your partner isn't expected to hang out at your place of work, why should you be expected to hang out at your partner's place of work?
posted by xingcat at 7:12 PM on September 18, 2012 [15 favorites]

It really varies according to your situation. Just remember, he's working. Sure, at a cool job, but still work. Go if and when you will enjoy it, basically. Go occasionally when he needs to put bodies in the seats, as a show of support.
posted by raisingsand at 7:13 PM on September 18, 2012

You're definitely not obligated to go to any of them, but I think it's not unusual or groupie-ish if you want to tag along, which is what it sort of sounds like you're saying in your question. I go to a lot of local shows and the girlfriends of the band members I know personally are usually there to support them and hang out with our friends - it's definitely a way to socialize for all of us.

But it's important for you to have your own friends, and your own hobbies, and your own time to yourself, so don't be afraid to say "Good luck at the show tonight! I [had a long day at work and I'm exhausted/already made plans] but let me know how it goes."

I'm not sure there's a right number or percentage of shows to go to, but just follow your instincts, I think - see if you're thinking "Hmm, I never go to my boyfriend's shows these days!" vs. "Wow, it feels like the only time I ever get out of the house is going to my boyfriend's shows."
posted by capricorn at 7:18 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I definitely wouldn't go if you had previous plans elsewhere. The only time you should really go is if it's really important you show your support (I'm thinking battle of the bands or similar competition things). Otherwise, I've always been a big fan of showing up at the very end of the gig just in time for the 'hang out after' part.
posted by csox at 7:21 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also: I did notice that, with my ex, I would barely ever see the spouses of his married co-performers at shows...

The married performers I know are usually a few years older than the ones who are still dating and haven't settled down with someone. That means that their spouses are more likely to be in senior-level positions in jobs and to have a more established social group in the area, because these things come with time and age. There's also a higher probability of children who need one parent to stay home and watch them.
posted by capricorn at 7:21 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Erm, which means they have less spare time. Ok, I'm going to stop monopolizing this thread now.
posted by capricorn at 7:22 PM on September 18, 2012

Depends. Mine once had a gig that was so close to where we lived, it was literally five minutes from my place to the performance space. He had a frequent, somewhat brief (1 hour) afternoon set that I nearly always went to, because I loved the music he played for that particular set. My partner is pretty virtuosic on his primary instrument, and I love watching him work. Otherwise, I come for the big performances, or when we have plans afterwards, or when I feel like it. I've never thought of myself as his groupie, even when I was going to those nearly daily gigs.

When we first started dating, I think we'd been on half a dozen dates before he invited me to a show, and then I maybe came to a show every four or five dates. Much better to get to know the person face to face rather than just through their performances, but I say do whatever makes the two of you happy.

For calibration, we've been together a little over half a dozen years. I don't do the counting, I leave that to him.
posted by arnicae at 7:56 PM on September 18, 2012

I probably go to one in every five or six of my husband's shows.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:03 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

My general policy is that I'll meet up with others who want to go, but it's not something I'll go to on my own.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:02 PM on September 18, 2012

I'm not sure what kind of performances you are talking about, but in general:

-Opening and closing nights are nice times to go. It's nice to go opening night of a play because you are a friendly face; closing night there's probably a party.

-Go when you can help. Sometimes just having someone who is willing to take tickets (EVEN FOR AN HOUR and then you go eat cheetos with your friends or watch a movie or read a book or knit some scarves) is really the best way to support someone.

-Go as often as you find it enjoyable, balanced with making sure you're going enough that your partner knows you don't resent it.

Also, you may find a niche in the community that you are happy with - someone's always looking for someone who can and will do x thing(s) - and that may mean you go more. It just depends on your expectations. My spouse and I share the art we create - we run a theater company - but having a partner with whom I share something like this is MY idea of fun and normal. Yours may be totally different.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:04 PM on September 18, 2012

Something I haven't seen yet in the responses: I think you should factor in how often he does things that require a significant time commitment, in support of *you*. When you're sick, does he cook you soup, or go out and get some? When you have a big work project does he give you a massage at the end of a long day? Stuff like that gives him more "come to my show" credits.
posted by parrot_person at 9:41 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am passing friends with a professional baseball player. His wife goes to one game per series on home stands. They had their first child a year ago and not sure how often she goes now.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:13 PM on September 18, 2012

My husband is an actor. I (sometimes) go to opening night, and usually always closing. If attendance is "iffy", I'll go to fill up a seat, (nothing like playing to an empty house!). If there is some other occasion and he wants me there, I'll go.
posted by 6:1 at 12:00 AM on September 19, 2012

Back in the way back times I dated many musicians and ended up marrying one. Maybe it was different for me, but I met him because I liked his music and so I went to most of his gigs because I wanted to. I had friends who liked the band ,too, so I did have plenty of people to hang with and not just sit in the groupie section. You don't have to be there for the whole show, especially if there are opening bands that don't interest you. My main advice is do not become the unpaid roadie-it's a thankless job. And make sure there are other things you do together that don't involve the band.
posted by Isadorady at 2:02 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

xingcat: Your partner isn't expected to hang out at your place of work, why should you be expected to hang out at your partner's place of work?

Yes, in traditional workplaces - not with performers. Only those that have been in or involved with performers will know the unique situation loved ones find themselves in. Many times, that's the only way to see them regularly .
posted by Kruger5 at 5:19 AM on September 19, 2012

My girlfriend has 2-3 shows weekly. I make sure that I see one show every other week. But I also come if one of the shows is special and she wants me there, and of course sometimes I just feel like going twice in a week because she's very funny and I have a good time watching her perform.
posted by Ragged Richard at 5:23 AM on September 19, 2012

My rule of thumb (with directors, playwrights, musicians and actors) is that you go to a "new thing" (play, album, routine, what have you) in previews or in rehearsal so you can give your support (and to save them from humiliating themselves!), then maybe check in on it later after opening, or midway. Then you leave them the heck alone. I actually do subscribe to the theory that this is their workplace and I have my own workplace. And when I "perform" (not really the right word but close enough), which is rare, I expect my partner to be there about... hmm, 1 time in every 10—like when I'm doing something new or interesting or difficult and could use his eye for feedback. I do believe partners should be supportive, of course, but I also think the role in a real relationship is "first audience." And that involves feedback. Which means that you can't partner with someone who is not capable of having a real conversation about his work.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:34 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I was younger I went to all boyfriend performances, because I wanted to support him. Now there more ways than just that to support a performing boyfriend. But yeah, I would say I have gone once a month, or if it was a big/special gig. I don't think there's anything wrong with going alone, but only if you actually feel comfortable and not like a hanger-on.
posted by greta simone at 7:02 AM on September 19, 2012

I used to perform occasionally and even when it was just occasionally I didn't expect my SO or Friends to come to every show.

And I actually thought if I was relying on friends to fill up a venue then its failing as a performer. If you are successful you should be able to draw a crowd.

Also having an SO there can actually get in the way of networking and fulfilling other promotional type requirements. which can be a big part of the "job".
posted by mary8nne at 8:00 AM on September 19, 2012

My partner plays about two or three gigs a week; I go to about two or three a month.

I would definitely go to anything he felt was particularly special, though.
posted by JuliaJellicoe at 8:11 AM on September 19, 2012

It depends - it sounds like you aren't dating this guy yet, so you may have to or want to go to a lot of gigs in the beginning while you "get to know each other" but then you could start easing off a bit? I think it also depends on what kind of schedule you have (maybe some nights you just aren't going to feel up to it) as well as his expectations (maybe he doesn't expect you to come to every gig, every time).

My boyfriend is not a performer, but he plays basketball in a well-established league, usually 2x a week but sometimes more. In the beginning I went to all the games, but now I just go to half or so. The other SOs who go roughly about as much as I do, or less.

We also spend time together outside of the games, so it's not like the "event" is the precursor to a date, which may make a difference. I don't plan my week around his games, either, unless they are big games.
posted by sm1tten at 8:40 AM on September 19, 2012

Used to date a guy in a band. I always went to the important shows, otherwise I would say once a week is plenty. Despite enjoying my ex's music, it could get pretty boring going to gigs alone if I didn't bring friends with me.

But if this is a very new thing with this guy, and you are not even in a relationship yet, I would say you are not obligated to be supportive, yet. All of his invites should not be "come see my performance and hang out with me afterwards". Going to see him perform is not really a date, you're in the audience, not spending time together, and he's not making any time for you. I agree with rainbowbrite, if most of his invites are for you to watch him perform, that could create a really weird dynamic.

Also, for what it's worth, my ex was always appreciate and as attentive as he could be in the situation. He always made sure I had earplugs, that I never paid to get in, bought me drinks, thanked me for coming, etc.
posted by inertia at 9:23 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I try to attend things frequently enough that people are not "surprised" to see me at a show. For me that means I always attend the first playing at a new venue or a show that has something that qualifies it as "new". Barring that I try to attend 2 shows a month. If I think it will be fun I go more, if it's veering into obligation territory 2 shows a month is plenty.
posted by dadici at 9:52 AM on September 19, 2012

Jesus, does he come to your job to watch you?

Go as often as you feel like it, and no oftener.

Just because he performs for a living doesn't mean that you are his built-in audience.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:02 AM on September 19, 2012

Go to as many as you want to. Or don't. There's no right answer.

My girlfriend comes to the shows she wants to come to, and doesn't come to the ones she doesn't want to come to. She understands that she has an open invitation to any public performance in clubs, bars, etc. At big events where admission is by ticket only, she's always guaranteed a spot on the guest list if the band is allowed to have one. She's never gone on the road with us when we have weekend gigs out of town, but that's mostly because there's no room in the van for extra passengers.

I try to go to her readings as often as I can, but my band schedule often conflicts with them.
posted by emelenjr at 10:21 AM on September 19, 2012

Go whenever you feel like going, or when he's playing with a new band/at a venue he's never played at before (and will be playing at for an extended period of time.) Beyond that, feel free to say "Hey, what time does the show end, I'd love to come hang out with you afterwards" and let him decide if he needs a partner who attends all his shows or not.
posted by davejay at 11:10 AM on September 19, 2012

You say you like his work, which is a key factor for me. I say talk to him as things develop between you, and find out what his expectations are?

As a performer myself, I like it when my partners come to a theater production at least once. Mostly, that's because I want them to know what I'm talking about when I mention particular scenes, in-jokes that have sprung up among the cast, and so on. Having that context means that we feel more connected as we talk about these things - and that's the crucial part for me, not the ratio of attended to unattended performances.

Similarly, I attend my partners' work social functions when it's appropriate, both to support them and so I know a bit about the office and the people that come up in conversation.

For band/vocal ensemble performances, I'd like them to come out to see things on special occasions - CD launches are a good example. I appreciate their support, though if the music's really not their thing I'm certainly not going to force them. The gigs I've done with bands have often turned into social occasions as our friends discovered they liked the music; I think my partners have found it easier when coming along to those wasn't just for me, and didn't mean just sitting there by themselves.

I figure comp tickets and names on the door list are a given if the support of one's partner is expected, by the way!
posted by Someone Else's Story at 12:03 PM on September 19, 2012

« Older Sequential Art for the Slammer   |   How do I learn to play a song on guitar? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.