Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bored Couples

I really like the work of the English photographer Martin Parr. He did a photo series sometime in the late 80s/early 90s called Bored Couples. Here are some of the shots:

We all know couples like this, couples who don't seem to have a word to say to each other and you wonder why in the world they are even still together and yet they are. A friend of Jasper's calls the ones you see in a restaurant "The Dining Dead."

Parr's work got me thinking about relationships in general and the different kinds that there are. I thought I'd compile a list here just for the fun of it. The list is, of course, from the point of view of a straight female since that's what I am, but I would also love to hear a straight/gay man and lesbian version if anyone would like to share one. Ok, here goes.

1. The "We Will Stay Together Forever and Ever and Ever" Couples
I thought about calling this one "The First Love" couples because that is what they usually are. They can barely spend more than a few hours apart, they wear each others jeans, they read each others e-mails, they have lots and lots and lots of insider jokes. They become so merged that it's impossible to think of one without the other: You never say "Steve" or "Kathy" but "Steve and Kathy". The idea that they might ever break up is enough to give the girlfriend an ulcer. If they do break up, then be prepared for a lot of drama and ice cream and vodka and weepy phones calls at four in the morning. (Yes, as you can see I have had experience nursing friends through this before and no, it ain't pretty, but hey, that's what friends are for....)

2. The "Who Needs Enemies When We Have Each Other" Couples
You know these people. When you're together with them they rag on their partner the whole time, sometimes taking it so far that you start feeling uncomfortable. Do they hate each other or love each other or love to hate each other? Who knows....

3. The "Independent" Couples (possibly the "George Glass" couples.)
Do you remember the Brady Bunch episode where Jan, jealous as usual of Marcia's popularity, makes up a boyfriend named George Glass? She pretends to talk to him on the phone and makes excuses why he can't come to a party until, finally, she fesses up....I've also known couples like this: Susie is supposedly in a relationship and yet she always goes out alone and you've never met her significant other even though she's been your friend for a while. Are these couples just fiercely independent? Do they have something to hide? Or is it truly a case of "George Glass" syndrome?

4. The "Matching Jogging Suit" Couples
These couples scare my husband. A lot. "No matching sports equipment or I'll file for divorce!" he has joked. (But I also find them frightening, so he has nothing to worry about.) My guess is that couples like this are just a continuation of the "We'll Stay Together Forever and Ever and Ever" couples. They are also probably the most in danger of the man leaving for a younger woman following his mid-life crisis after which the woman will start breeding chinchillas.

5. The "So I Guess We Should Just Get Married" Couples
These people have been together a while. They both like popcorn. Why not just get married? If they do, they are also probably the most in danger of becoming the Bored Couples to be mocked by some smart-ass photographer on the prowl (I'm talking, of course, as much about myself as Mr. Parr. ;) )

6. The "Long Distance Relationship" Couples
They live in different cities of countries. They see each other for three intense weeks a year then spend a lot of time being on their own (also possibly seeing other people in an "don't ask don't tell" kind of open relationship situation....) Although they might not admit it to themselves, they wonder if the relationship could last if they lived near each other. The answer? No. (Ok, I admit this one is about my first husband!)

7. The "Thou Shalt Never Look At Another Member of the Female Species" Couples
I've heard this one often enough: A man gets a new girlfriend/gets married and the woman forces him break off contact with any female friends or acquaintances. It doesn't matter if they are old, lesbian or just plain butt ugly; if they have a vagina, she doesn't want them around. And watch out if she catches him saying he finds another woman attractive or peeking a glance...Personally, I don't get this at all. My husband could cheat on me if he wanted to (though of course, there would be consequences...) and me being super jealous and possessive wouldn't stop him: in fact, it would be more likely to just push him away. Relationships are based on trust and I wouldn't ever let someone treat me like this. And men who break off friendships just because their girlfriend doesn't like it; man, stand up for yourself and, um, get some balls!

Ok, my listing ability is now exhausted. Anyone have a few that I might have forgotten? I also would like to have a photo example of each type, so if you have any, please send them my way. :)


Angela said...

I am kinda a mix of the first one and the George Glass one. We spend a ton of time apart and are both very independent...but when we are out together we have so much fun and the inside jokes are endless.

Schaufensterbabe said...

That sounds like a really cool mix actually. Probably also the closest to me and my marriage too. It's the extremes that are to be avoided. :)


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