Some people — single or in a relationship — tend to think that couples should have a long list of things they have in common. If one is a gamer, they must only set their sights on someone who’s also a gamer. That’s likewise for tech geeks, bookworms, athletes, etc.
But if you’ll only base your interests in someone on your similarities, are you creating a healthy relationship? Sure, it’s fun to be with somebody who enjoys the same things, like doing outdoor activities or checking display homes. However, the foundation of a serious relationship should be more than just mutual interests. Two basketball fans aren’t automatically destined to be in marriage, but an athlete and a supermodel might be.
Therefore, if you’re having trouble finding the right partner, you should look beyond their interests and hobbies. They’re not too important at all; according to Dan Cole, master certified Gottman therapist at couples counselling and research centre The Gottman Institute, couples should only share two things in common, both of which we’ll tackle later in this post.
In the meantime, let’s first discuss the typical differences you’ll have with a significant other.
1. Tastes in Music, Movies, TV Shows
People browsing Tinder and other dating apps tend to regard differences in tastes as a deal-breaker. That could make sense if you’re only dating for fun. But in serious relationships, clashing preferences for movies, music, TV shows, and the like shouldn’t be a big issue at all.
Just because you cannot watch your most-awaited movie with your significant other doesn’t mean that they’re not worth loving anymore. It would be great if they can try to explore your interests and enjoy them with you occasionally, but also remember that it’s healthy to spend time apart as well. Perhaps by watching your most-anticipated film without them, you can have a chance to hang out with your friends whom you haven’t seen in a long time.
Maybe you’re vegan, and they’re not, but even if their eating habits drive you crazy, it’s not a good enough reason to split up. Chances are they don’t understand your food choices, either, but if they don’t question you on it, then it’s best to take your differences in stride. In the long run, you could influence them into shifting to a vegan diet, as long as you don’t force them.
Supporting different teams may be a bummer, but it could be a healthy competition between the two of you. Besides, the bond you share over sports may turn you into teammates one day, so don’t immediately assume that their favourite team will threaten your relationship.
Your wardrobe is frequently updated with the latest trends, while theirs has been staying the same for years. That can be frustrating when you’re just dying to take Instagrammable photos with them but worry not, because a dull fashion sense is salvageable.
If you’re worried that addressing their unsatisfactory style would offend them, turn to the internet to find ways of doing such without hurting their feelings. Start by complimenting them every time they wear your favourite shirt of theirs. Just be patient, because you can’t change someone’s fashion sense overnight.
5. Your Families
Your partner’s fantastic family is just a bonus. But if they’re not as lovely as you would’ve wanted, you don’t have to blame your partner for it. You can still love them without putting up with their family. Likewise, if your family isn’t very fond of them, then your partner shouldn’t be forced to deal with it.
The key is to try to get along with each other’s family, at least. If you’re going to be with each other for a long time, then your families will be a part of your life, too. Thus, don’t return the rudeness of their contemptuous mother or the arrogance of their proud father.
The Two Most Important Things to Have in Common
According to Cole, couples should have these two things in common to make their relationships work: a shared meaning in the relationship and interests in each other’s interests.
A shared meaning in the relationship refers to an understanding of what you are, what’s important to you, and what you care about. But it doesn’t mean that you should throw away your values for the sake of the relationship. Instead, you should create shared values, all while maintaining your individual ones.
And of course, an interest in your partner’s interests will bring fruition to your relationship. Again, you don’t have to share every hobby and interest, but familiarising yourself with them and understanding what they mean to your partner are vital.
By having these two things in common, all your differences will matter less, and soon enough, you’ll be building dreams together. A set of trivial differences between you two may pop up again as you browse for beautiful homes, but what’s more important is the life you’ll create in your future home.