I had been dating Jared a few weeks when my friends started questioning whether or not I’d made him up.
Jared was the awesome boyfriend they only heard about and never met. He cooked for me, we loved the same TV shows, he looked great in pajamas, we had great chemistry, and we could laugh for hours. There was only one problem with our relationship: I couldn’t stand him once we were out of the comfort of our living rooms.
Once we were in public, Jared turned into an obnoxious know-it-all, obsessed with showing everyone he met that he was well-versed in whatever they were talking about. He lectured people on his conspiracy theories, assumed every guy was trying to hit on me and — I kid you not — ordered extra garlic on anything he ate in front of others. He was what we here at Loveawake like to call an “Indoor Boyfriend.”
How do you know if the guy you’re seeing is an Indoor Boyfriend?
Here are a few clues:
• Have you ever uttered the phrase “He’s a real sweetheart once you get to know him”?
• Do you and your boyfriend regularly get into really stupid fights on the way to social outings and end up just turning around and going home, where you watch TV and apologize to each other?
• Have you ever thought things would be perfect if only you never had to interact with one each other’s family/co-workers/friends?
• Have you ever found yourself lying about your boyfriend’s interests / aspirations / crazy talk in order to save yourself embarrassment? “No, of course he doesn’t think the police are ‘puppets of the oil companies.’ He was just kidding!”
• Do you avoid bringing your boyfriend to parties because it would stress you out too much?
• Do you spend hours griping to friends about how you have to break up with this guy ASAP, only to go home to a lovely evening of “Mad Men” and Thai food and cuddling?
• Have you ever convinced yourself that you are just being shallow about your boyfriend’s lack of social skills / bizarre behavior / obnoxiousness, insisting that if you love each other, that’s all that matters?
If any of these ring true for you, you might be dealing with an Indoor Boyfriend. He might be too intellectual, too artsy, too socially awkward, too old, too young, or too damned theatrical — but for whatever reason, he’s a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of awesomeness. Your friends have no idea why you’re still with him, and usually you don’t either. You’d leave him if it weren’t for the silly dance-offs at home, the foot rubs or the “Seinfeld” marathons over takeout.
Indoor Boyfriends are not, by the way, boyfriends you just don’t think are good enough for you. Something about viewing your man through someone else’s eyes can make you reevaluate everything, but if you just wish your man talked to your friends more, or had a better job, or was in a band that had some success, that’s your problem, not his. We’re talking about guys who don’t have the ability to socialize like an adult without putting people off.
What’s a girl to do in this situation? If you’ve got a man who is good to you, does it matter if you can’t bring him out in public? Didn’t you know what you were getting into when you started dating him?
It’s a tough call. We’re all relatively smart ladies, and none of us would stay in a relationship unless we were getting something out of it. Jared was my hapless boyfriend as I went through grad school. I was in class or interning 18 hours a day and, frankly, needed someone to make sure I ate at night. This sounds terrible callous, but it’s true. At that moment in my life, I couldn’t handle a guy who wanted to have a social life with me. Other Indoor Boyfriends I’ve had were there at times when I couldn’t hack being single, or I was young and romantic enough to believe that our indoor time made up for all the weirdness that happened in public.
A good relationship, though, is one that can hang in pretty much any situation. That doesn’t mean the guy has to have awesome hobbies, or tons of money, or be hilarious, or have the exact same interests, but he has to be someone who complements you, indoors and out. A guy you’re proud of, a guy who can make small talk with strangers if necessary, a guy who can hold off on showing his karate moves to your boss. Even if he doesn’t love all the same things you do, or all the same people, he’s willing to make nice in public so that you’re both satisfied until you get home and have cuddle time on the couch.
As much as you may enjoy spooning on a couch every night, feeling comfortably imprisoned by your significant other is never the best answer. Who knows how many awesome, socially-skilled boys have come and gone as you’ve been at home, making the best of it with your Indoor Boyfriend.
Have you ever had an Indoor Boyfriend? What was your clue that you couldn’t leave the house with him? How long did you stay with him? Tell us in the comments.
(Note: Indoor Girlfriends absolutely exist, and can sometimes be even more apocalyptically awful to deal with in public than Indoor Boyfriends.)