Nightlife and Monogamy: Is it Possible?

Nightlife and Monogamy: Is it Possible?

by Jeff Wilser
04.22.2008

Before his early death, Devin was one of my closest friends. We went out five nights a week. We did the kind of stuff that 22-year-olds did: drinking, skirt-chasing, bar-hopping, and spending $5.50 at McDonald's followed by $300 on Grey Goose.

I miss him.

Well, okay, he didn't "die," technically. He's alive. Happy and healthy, too. Last I heard, he's training for  hills of Los Gatos.

But he might as well have died: he got married. And for his many single friends, it amounted to the same thing.

Sure, Devin and his wife tried to be the "fun" young couple that partied with the other singles. That lasted a month. Then he cut back on the bars. He only met us for brunch, he got Netflix, and suddenly he talked about things like interest rates and mortgages.

We all have friends like Devin. Whether married or simply in a serious relationship, they're kidnapped for the weekend, they only make the rarest of cameos, and they've lost their appetite for nightlife.

Why? And is this true for everyone?

In a wildly unscientific, anecdotal, and admittedly sloppy survey, I asked this of other twenty-somethings--former clubaholics who have settled into monogamous relationships.

Many stopped going out entirely. Others still go out, but only as a couple. Some go out separately to assert their independence.

A pattern emerged. Once you're in a serious relationship, you fall into one of three camps:

1) Netflix Newlyweds

2) Wifed-Up Socialites

3) Wandering Eyes

____________________________________________

1) Netflix Newlyweds

The mindset of the Netflix Newlywed: once you're with someone, what's the point in going out? Or, more bluntly, once you're getting a steady diet of sex, why leave the home?

Couple.JPGFor Devin and millions of others like him, the ideal Friday night involves staying in, ordering some chicken pad Thai, and whittling down the Netflix queue.

Take Jason. Now in his late twenties, Jason is approaching his one-year wedding anniversary. He'll still go out. But only for special occasions--a dinner party here, an office event there. "Now that I'm married, and the hook-up factor is eliminated, I see little reason to do it."

Fair enough. With this perspective, nightlife seems a chore. It requires dressing up, losing sleep, forking over $20 for cover, waiting in lines, and putting on deodorant. Jason was never much into clubs in the first place. "They're loud, expensive, and somewhat intimidating."

Many Netflix Newlyweds share this sentiment. For them, nightlife was a means to an end, an expedient way to meet members of the opposite sex. Better than, say, the hardware store.

And going to a club with no possibility of sex? That's as absurd as going to a restaurant with no possibility of food.

Others are less cynical. There are the:

2) Wifed-Up Socialites

More likely to be girls, the Wifed-Up Socialites are taken, off-limits, and not looking to hook-up. But they still want to go out and have a good time.

They're offended, even, at the idea that relationships and nightlife are mutually exclusive.

Quote2.JPGLindsay, 23, has had the same boyfriend for six years. And she still goes out. A lot.

"Saying that having a boyfriend infringes on how often you go out--that's pretty much crap," she says. "If you liked going out before you were attached at the hip, chances are you still like going out after.

"A girl's goal when going out is to have fun, hang out with her friends, and if she's in a good relationship, her 'friends' include her boyfriend. She wants an excuse to dress up, do her hair, wear a new pair of shoes."

And guys?

Unless they're truly hardcore, most guys don't really like to dance. Dancing is like buying roses. You'll do it to impress a girl, but you're not going to buy flowers to decorate your room or your office.

In other words, you're unlikely to overhear the following phone conversation:

girls night out.JPG"What's up, Chris?"

"Hey Joe. You up for dancing tonight?"

"Yeah. It's been sooooo long since I've spent Saturday night dancing."

"Cool. Let's dial-up Eric, Todd, and James. They're all dying to dance!"

Guys might not be as eager to go dancing at a club, but change the venue, and they can play the role of Wifed-Up Socialite.

Bryan, 28, is decidedly wifed-up. He's been dating his fiance for almost five years. He thinks about things like wedding invitations. But Bryan still goes out twice a week, mostly to pubs and bars. "It's good to get out and hang with the boys."

And the eye candy doesn't hurt. "It's good to look around--but no touching," says Bryan. "It keeps you young. My partner doesn't mind me going out and enjoying my life.

More and more couples have started going out together. "It's is a common belief that you shouldn't take your boyfriend/girlfriend to a club with you. I think that attitude is changing now," says Ellen, a 29-year-old programmer.

"I see a lot of couples having a good time in clubs. I'm in one of them," Ellen says. "If you respect each other, you have a great time. I would rather dance with my boyfriend in a club (even though he really can't dance) than a sweaty stranger."

Speaking of sweaty strangers . . .

3) Wandering Eyes

Not every relationship is a happy relationship. And even for the happy ones, there's always the lure of the unknown.

Jude Law.JPGWhether it's conscious or not, many content, committed, partners savor the possibility of change. By going to a bar or club, through harmless flirting, they can entertain, safely and passively, the chance for an upgrade.

Meet Sarah from San Francisco. Blonde and gorgeous, Sarah is dressed in a sexy skirt. She's had a boyfriend for three years. She's not looking to hook up.

Still . . .

She looks at me over her martini glass and smiles. "Look. I'll be honest. My boyfriend is a chef. He works nights. So what am I supposed to do, stay home knitting? I hate knitting.

"We have a 'dating at will' understanding. I'm not openly looking, but if I see someone at a bar who just blows me away, yeah, you never know."

____________________________________________

Which category do you fall in? Fire away in the Comments section below.

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