Lazy Days: Loving a Couch Potato

Dear Sherry:

My boyfriend of two years is quite inactive. We never do anything unless I ask him to take me out. He's always at my place for all meals unless I tell him I want to eat out that night; then we go to eat out. He just sits and watches TV after dinner unless I tell him I want to go see a movie or something, and then we'll go see a movie. I've talked to him about this, and he says he wants to change and make the effort to plan activities in our relationship, but it's been two years and nothing has really changed. Is this a change I cannot realistically expect, or is there something I need to do to make him change once and for all?



Sherry Amatenstein

Sherry is the author of The Q&A Dating Book and Love Lessons from Bad Breakups. She has taught dating seminars, appeared as an expert... Read more

Dear Deb:

Read my cyber lips: A person can't (won't) change unless he's truly motivated to do so for his own growth. And since your boyfriend is "inactive," movement of any kind, even on the psychological level, must induce extreme trauma. Even if you attempt the one action that will at least temporarily get him off his butt, threatening to leave unless he initiates doing something more taxing than being a couch potato, the change will be short-lived. Once he feels secure that you're again securely stationary on the love level, he'll revert to his typical patterns.

However, I am encouraged that he's willing to follow your lead. You choose a movie; he'll park himself at the theater. Continue letting him (nicely) know that you'd really love him to start initiating plans for fun things for you to do together, and reward him whenever (if ever) he follows through. Training a man is like training a dog: Positive reinforcement works.

Also, just because he won't join you in activities doesn't mean that you have to be joined at the hip on that darned couch. Make plans with girlfriends, platonic male buddies, go places alone. (This actually might be another strategy to get your guy off his keister, but don't employ it for that purpose alone.) Don't fit your life around your boyfriend's needs. Do live your life, and invite your boyfriend to participate in it.

If you truly love your boyfriend and are in all other respects happy with him, then follow the above steps and reapply when necessary. However, if you're the type who thrives on constant movement, activity and adventure, then you might ultimately need to move yourself out of this relationship.

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