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Do Couples Tell Stupider Stories? May 9, 2012

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings.
Tags: , ,

Copious Readers, Lisa and I have been away for a long time. We’ve missed you and are slowly getting back into the blogging groove. Our absence is due in part to a big project we were working on that, for a while, was sucking our will to live (or at least to write). But we’ve recovered and are now ready to start flinging our opinions around again here on Onely. And so, without further ado:

I know that in the past when I’ve been “in a relationship“, I did ridiculous stuff that I probably wouldn’t or couldn’t have done had I been single (like ditching Emmy Lou Harris tickets to attend a hockey game). But did I tell stories that were stupid, pointless, and boring? Or more accurately, did I tell stories that were even more stupid, pointless, and boring than my usual ones?

I’ve been noticing that a lot of couples do tell stupid, pointless, and boring stories, at least more often than single people I’ve known. Now, the particular couples of whom I am about to speak are all my friends. I love and respect them. Individually, they’ve told me some hilarious tales of navigating the untamed wilderness of Northern Virginia. But sit them down together at the table or on the couch or in the car, and let the inane blatherings begin.

We know that people in love are giddy and blind about their significant other (at least in certain stages of love). I will deconstruct this phenomenon one step further: When we’re in love we are giddy and blind about any story in which our partner plays a part, regardless of how banal the scene, how devoid of narrative arc or character development. Result? Really boring stories.

Lest you think, “Surely she exaggerates!” I present to you the First Example:

Setting: A sushi restaurant.

Characters: Stan, Jan, and your intrepid Onely correspondent.  Jan stares at the menu, undecided.

Stan: Maybe you should just get the grilled cheese sandwich.

Jan looks up and Stan and they both crack up.

Onely: . . .

Stan (still chuckling, looking at Onely): I made her a grilled cheese sandwich this afternoon.

Jan (laughing and shaking her head): Because I was hungry.

Stan: Yes, she was hungry. I asked her if she was hungry and she said yes.

Jan (eyes wide): Because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast!

Stan: And it was already three in the afternoon!

Onely (searching for a response that would show polite enthusiasm for this bland story without seeming so enthusiastic as to mock it):  Really . . . since breakfast?

Jan: Oh yes. So he made me a grilled cheese sandwich. It was good.

Stan: Yeah, it was.

At this point, I was beginning to think “making a grilled cheese sandwich” must be a kind of metaphor for. . . well for something more interesting than that story, anyway. Either that, or my friends were insane.

Second example:

Setting: An office.

Characters: Recently-married Joe and your intrepid Onely correspondent. Joe perches on your intrepid correspondent’s not-so-intrepid cubicle desk.

Joe: Yes, I’m tired this morning too. Sara and I stayed up watching back-to-back episodes of Thirty-Rock on Netflix.

Onely: I love that show!

Joe: We were sitting there and I was like, “We should go to bed,” and Sara was like, “Honey, I know,” but then we just kept sitting there and Rooter [the dog] was lying across our laps asleep. So I said, “Well, babe, we can’t just wake him up,” and so we watched another three episodes. That happens a lot. Rooter likes to lie across both our laps. It’s ok because we like to stay up watching shows and laughing. Sara likes Parks and Recreation more than Thirty Rock so lately we’ve been flipping coins to see what we watch. Then we go to bed but she usually goes upstairs first because she needs longer in the bathroom so I stay with Rooter and flip through more programs.


Now, I recognize that a large part of friendship is listening to, learning from, and coming to appreciate the day-to-day detritus of our friends’ lives (and they to our own). However, try this exercise: Imagine Stan from Example One telling the same story about how he made a grilled cheese sandwich for his coworker Duane. Or Joe from Example Two discussing how he and his elderly neighbor hung out watching Thirty Rock. Wouldn’t happen. At least not with the excruciating detail and pacing I’ve described above. Because the listeners would never tolerate that, as storytellers are well aware. (And you know that sh&t would never fly if it were me getting all dramatic about the day I made my cat a grilled cheese sandwich.)

So when coupled people tell boring stories, why do we–and by “we”, I mean “I”–put up with them?  I don’t know. Politeness. Desire not to hurt a friend. A fear that maybe the story is really very exciting and that I just don’t “get” it because I’m not insightful enough–or coupled enough.


Photo Credit: frikipix

(Photo Fun Fact:  Search for “couple” on Google Images Advanced Search Labelled for Reuse and this is the *second* photo in the results list.)


1. singlutionary - May 9, 2012

I like these stupid stories. They make me feel really brilliant. And I DO tell the story about making a sandwich for my roommate or being dog-tied (literally) to my elderly neighbor. Or I WOULD if those things ever happened to me because they would be AWESOME.

So here is my stupid story: I came home and ate a popsicle. Giggle. It was really good. I really like the coconut kind because it is naturally creamy. I got my roommate a strawberries and cream one but she hasn’t eaten it yet. Strawberries have magic powers that make chicken coops instantly appear. And chickens make eggs. I don’t eat eggs but my roommate does. She likes omelettes. An egg is a chicken menses.

singlutionary - May 9, 2012

Sorry — my reply was kinda vapid. I really thing that these inane stories are more of something that happens when people live together and feel like other people should CARE. The reason we don’t go telling similar stories about our pets and our roommates is because it seems somewhat shameful to tell a story about how you came home and made broccoli for your dog or bought a popsicle for your roommate. LETS DESTROY THE SHAME and just go about telling stories about our pet rocks.

Onely - May 11, 2012


Nice to see you back, Singlutionary. = )

tehomet - May 17, 2012

‘LETS DESTROY THE SHAME’ – love that. 😀

2. yolly - May 11, 2012

Don’t these stories only happen when you’re in the early throws of a relationship? Or as part of a bigger story like “I burnt the toasted sandwich that I made and the firealarm went off for 20 minutes and I couldn’t understand how to stop it ……. what is it about technology that you can’t do simple things like that?” Know whwat I mean?

My married friends without kids never say this type of thing …. but that might be because I see them alone and without their partner. Then the rest of the married friends only talk about their kids

I wonder how common it is??

Onely - May 11, 2012

Mmm really good point, but I think they can happen down the road too, at least in my experience. Maybe that’s the sign of a good relationship, if after ten years you’re telling still stupid stories about the other person? = )

3. tehomet - May 17, 2012

Perhaps the ‘problem’ is you, dear Christina. Your friends are secure in the knowledge that you are a nice and patient person who is prepared to listen to them wittering on about their tedious sandwich-making exploits, without mocking them until the end of time. My friends do not have that luxury. 🙂

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