If your interests differ from your partner, you are more likely to have and keep friends outside of your relationship, which is essential to you and your partner ultimately not wanting to kill each other.
As April 1, 2012, the tenth anniversary of my husband’s and my first date nears, I’ve been wondering how we ended up together. On paper, it didn’t look promising. I was living in Los Angeles, he had spent his entire life in Iowa. He was an athlete and I knew nothing about sports. I was a painter and a drama major, and he was a sane person. Where was the attraction? I remember the first time I saw him—yep, he was hot. That had a lot to do with it. The next time I saw him was at an after-hours party, and he was funny. That helped! Finally, he asked me to have lunch with him.
Us. Across the table from one another. Looking for ways to keep the conversation going. We were both into the local music scene, and we had several friends in common. Beyond that I could tell right away we had precious little more to go on, but there was chemistry there. A chemistry that outweighed the fact that we couldn’t even find ONE movie to talk about, we had to go back to high school to find a single book that we had both read.
I believe it was Paula Abdul who said that ‘opposites attract.’ A girlfriend of mine (who is single and looking) has little faith in Paula’s words, however. As a result, she and I have an ongoing argument; she is looking for someone who shares all of the same interests with her. In fact, she will rule out a potential partner based on this theory. I argue the following:
Different Interests From Your Partner = Keeping Your Friends
If your interests differ from your partner, you are more likely to have and keep friends outside of your relationship, which is essential to you and your partner ultimately not wanting to kill each other. If you and your partner have the same interests, the same gusto for the same things, the same tastes, and so on, why would you need anyone else? What would happen to your other relationships? Once that honeymoon period of the relationship is over, you’re going to want your best girlfriend around to go with you to get a pedicure. You’re going to want the ‘old gang’ to get together for a wine-tasting. Or, in my case, you’re going to want your girlfriend to fly into town for a weekend of super-nerdy ghost-hunting, followed by an embarrassing evening of karaoke. Seriously, some interests are just guilty pleasures reserved for friends.
Being Exposed Can Be Good
If your interests differ from those of your partner, you will be exposed to new things, learn new things. This keeps the relationship fresh. For example, my husband spent a year teaching me football. Not how to play it, but how to cheer at the right time—I was a bartender in a college town when we met, and I needed to at least act like I knew when ‘our team’ was winning. Now, I’m pathetic--I almost can’t watch a football game, I become so emotionally involved. This coming from a person who used to turn on the TV in January and swear out loud when she saw a football field. I love that football is something he taught me. And, because he played in high school, it means a lot to him that I’m interested. I get to hear stories from his team, and he can recite crazy statistics that surely no one else in the free world remembers. When the actual game is less than enthralling, I just tune out and listen to him talk about it. It’s fun to watch his passion for it, and his desire to share it.
Opposites Can Be A Positive
Ever seen a Yin Yang, or plugged a plug into a socket? Magnets, batteries, in all of these cases two differing elements are necessary to make a whole. A relationship is no exception. The joy of a relationship is the journey, and if you choose someone because he or she is exactly like you, you might as well just be doing laps. This is the reason people travel, try new restaurants, new hobbies, watch movies they’ve never seen before…so they don’t stagnate. A partner with interests in things you’ve never before considered is a gift, like a walking, talking pamphlet for opening your mind. And, if it’s a perfect storm of opposition, your partner will be open and interested in what you have to offer as well. It feels good to show someone you care about the finer points of, say, composting, or whatever it is you are into that your partner has never tried before.
It’s Easier To Try New Things On A Level Playing Field
All of the examples above concern instances in which couples have differing opinions on the easy and fun stuff. Differing tastes in cuisine, one likes sports, the other likes shopping. One has never been camping before, but goes along for the ride out of love for the other. One thing partners must agree on is an appreciation for the differences. A core respect for one another is a must-have on a very short grocery list of things two people must possess, in any relationship. Even if you’re just dating and not looking for a relationship, which, by the way, is what I was doing when I met my husband. Sometimes you can’t fight chemistry.