The Importance Of Dating Someone Who Has Similar Interests As You
Why does it matter that you date people with similar interests to you?
The most basic reason is because shared interests and experiences help to make people more compatible. The more you share with each other, the more likely you are to connect on a deeper level.
Interests can encompass your hobbies, pastimes, and knowledge. But there are other components of your life that you should also share with a partner. For example, it helps to have compatible plans for the future. And shared life experiences help people to support each other more thoroughly through the tough times.
I've broken down some life areas that you might share with your partner. Keep in mind that no one will share one hundred percent of their personality with another person - everyone's experiences shape them differently. What you want is a partnership built on respect, communication, trust, and ability to compromise.
#1. Life Experience
A big place to find common ground is in shared life experience. For example, if you're sticking to sobriety, you might have an easier time explaining that to someone who's doing the same.
Some life experiences that people might share include:
A shared background can encompass a number of things. Many people begin relationships with individuals with whom they share some background. For example, you might date someone who grew up in your hometown or went to your church. You might date someone who was raised by a single mother or the child of divorced parents, like you.
Certain cultural traditions might also be shared between you. Do you have similar cultural heritage or ancestry? You might find that your hometown has certain traditions that you didn't realize were unique until living in other areas.
When you share a background with another person, it's easier to connect on a deeper level. You don't have to spend as much time explaining your perspective. The pitfall is that you might expect your partner to understand more about you instinctively than they do. Sharing common ground doesn't negate the need for strong communication.
If you grew up in the same town as someone, you might have gone to the same high school. Maybe you met the person you're dating on your college campus because they're a fellow student. Maybe you happen to have gone to the same school by coincidence.
A shared educational background doesn't always mean that you went to the exact same school. Maybe you both have the same degree or shared certain classroom experiences. Maybe you both have a deep love of academia for academia's own sake.
If you and your partner both love learning and enjoy the challenge of an educational institution, that makes for incredible common ground already. You can build a great deal of mutual interests and enjoyable hobbies out of that.
Shared Life Struggles
Hardship is an inevitable part of life. Overcoming hardship and recovering from loss can shape your perspective in unique ways. Sometimes sharing these experiences with another person can help you support each other and share common ground.
One important note, though, is that a healthy romantic relationship shouldn't be built around supporting each other. You shouldn't be each other's only outlet, and you should have more in common than shared pain in the past. Otherwise, you run the risk of becoming codependent and lacking the positive attention you need.
Some common shared struggles include:
Shared Industry or Career
A common way that people in the US meet is through work, networking events, industry-specific conventions, or other career-related means. Even if you don't share the same educational background with your partner, maybe you share a passion for the same industry or job.
Depending on the area, this can provide ample opportunity for you to find other shared experiences. What is it you value about the industry or like about your jobs? What first got you involved in this path? What do you envision for your future? Your partner is someone you can share these things with.
#2. Shared Values
People with more conservative views often experience friction with those whose outlook is more progressive or non-traditional. That's just one way in which shared values make a relationship easier.
There are many, many values that people might share or disagree on. As with all other aspects of a relationship, mutual respect is key to building a healthy partnership even when certain values differ.
Values are different from plans for the future or goals. Future plans involve the shared future elements you want to share with a partner. Goals refer to your personal life goals and the things you want to achieve.
Values, on the other hand, are more abstract. They tend to describe the kind of person you want to be and the way you want to act. They have to do with how you treat yourself and others. Many conflicts of "values" are actually conflicts about goals, plans, or less-intrinsic opinions.
Some examples of different and potentially opposing values include:
Tradition and Non-Tradition
One area that often causes disagreements is deciding whether to adhere to traditional or non-traditional lifestyles. Tradition isn't always negative, just as progression isn't always enlightened.
Different people may value their traditions because they want to preserve their culture, because they want a comfortable future, or because a traditional life is the easiest option.
Similarly, some people may break with tradition because they find the expectations to be too constricting, restrained, or conflicting with what they want for their own life.
Finding a person who understands and will accommodate your level of tradition or non-tradition is important for a relationship that lasts. You don't need to share every nuanced value with your partner, but you do need a partner who respects your wishes.
Some areas in which tradition and non-tradition may play a role include:
For many people, it's helpful to consider which traditions you want to keep and which you want to adapt or do away with altogether. And keep in mind that if you start a family or shared life with your partner, you can create new traditions together as well.
As with all other parts of the relationship, respect is most important in communication. There are dozens of different communication styles. Miscommunication often happens when people think they're expressing one thing, and the other person interprets it completely differently.
To this end, it's important to learn how your partner communicates and to make sure they understand you as well. Different people often value different things in communication.
Some examples might be:
Even if both partners have the best intentions, it's still possible for unintentional mishaps to occur. That's why working with each other and finding common ground is so important.
Structure and Relaxation
Some people prefer to have very strictly defined relationships. These involve rules regarding different areas of each other's lives. Rules aren't always unhealthy - one example would be an agreement to text when one partner is out late, so the other doesn't worry.
But other people prefer not to be constrained by boundaries and rules. They might prefer not to have an exclusive relationship, to go where they want, and to make spontaneous plans. If you're not on the same page with regards to the rules of your relationship (or lack thereof), there will be conflict.
#3. Views on Family
There are a ton of different views on family, varying not just by household but also by culture. Some homes are made up of a nuclear family, while others might include extended relatives like aunts, uncles, cousins, and seniors.
Life experience can also overlap here. Oftentimes single parents find common ground when they date, since they can discuss struggles they've had that other people might not relate to.
Some of the most common views that couples must address and discuss include:
One of the biggest questions a couple needs to answer is whether they want to have children. If the answer is yes, there are other questions as well. How many? Where will they grow up? What kind of education will they have? What kind of values will they be raised with?
If you're starting a family with your partner, you'll want to share expectations on parenting. That means that both of you are aware of what responsibilities you plan to take on and how you plan to raise your children.
Outside Family Involvement
The presence of outside family in people's lives can be a fraught one - just look at all the "in-laws from hell" stereotypes! But it doesn't need to be, especially if you and your partner have similar views on family.
In many cultures, it's common for grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, and children to live in the same area. Sometimes everyone shares the same house.
For some people, bad blood with family members means that they don't have much contact with parents, siblings, or grandparents. Some people live far apart from their extended families, and others have no family at all.
"Found" families are also important, which are non-traditional family units made up of closely bonded friends who aren't related by blood.
Sharing your family with your partner is intensely personal. So is being shown your partner's family. It's important that both of you understand what family means to each of you.
One traditional setup is for the man in a relationship to work full-time while the woman takes care of the house. Some people still follow this model, but it's become increasingly rare, particularly in the United States.
You and your partner will have an easier time if you share certain views on work-home balancing. Maybe you both have demanding careers and limited time to work around the house. Maybe one of you has more time for household chores but doesn't want to take on every single responsibility.
The point of a romantic partnership is that you're, well, partners. If you're sharing a life together - especially if you're cohabiting - you each have an equal responsibility to create the home and life you want.
#4. Religion and Spirituality
Compatible religious beliefs make a huge difference when dating. Even if you don't have the same religion, it's vital that you have a mutual respect for each other's beliefs and traditions. Partners can have happy relationships without sharing a religion, but religion and spirituality do have a marked impact on things like:
Marriages and Weddings
Different religious practices also often have different wedding traditions. There may be different ceremonies and definitions of what constitutes a "married couple." Secular couples might marry in a courthouse, but many religious couples will want a ceremony that reflects their faith.
In many Muslim marriages, a Henna party will be held a few days before the wedding by the family and friends of the bride. Henna tattoos are used to adorn and protect the bride. Rather than needing a specific officiant, any Muslim with an understanding of Islamic tradition can perform the ceremony.
Hindu weddings can last for multiple days, although in the United States, they tend to be confined to a single weekend at most. The ceremony is marked by traditional dancing, singing, and blessings. Traditional ceremonies including feet washing and wrapping of the hands with cotton thread are performed.
Jewish weddings have a rich cultural history. A wedding day is considered a personal Yom Kippur for the bride and groom, so it's traditional to fast for the entire day. For a week before the wedding, the bride and groom don't see each other at all. Various other ceremonies are conducted, like a symbolic breaking of a plate and the veiling of the bride's face.
Different forms of spirituality can be varied even among people of the same religion. But if you and your partner have similar spiritual inclinations, that can help you build a household based around your faith.
Some people are spiritual through prayer and daily devotion. Others might meditate or sit in nature to get in touch with the world around them. Even if you and your partner have different spiritual traditions, you should respect each other's means of spirituality.
A shared religious background can often be a stepping stone for shared social lives. If you and your partner attend the same church, synagogue, or mosque, you can find others there who share your faith.
Some religions encourage practitioners to have a wide range of social influences, even if those people aren't religious themselves. Others encourage social interaction to be kept within the faith. Having a shared perspective on this will make structuring your social lives much easier.
#5. Future Plans
Shared future plans matter to the health of your relationship. Some casual relationships aren't built around long-term planning. But if you are planning to settle down or start a family with someone, you need to know what that means.
Couples with different future goals can often find happiness in compromise. But if you find that you're giving up on your dreams, and you think you might regret the decision later, you should carefully evaluate whether this is a life trajectory you really want.
These are some of the most common questions couples must talk about when discussing their futures:
There's more to planning than just talking about having a baby or executing a five-year career plan. The more detailed you are now, the less chance of being blindsided later.
Talking About Family
If you're going to have a long-term partnership, you'll need to share one important factor: commitment. That means you'll have to discuss the future, what you're both looking for, and how you want to plan for your lives together.
One of the first conversations will be about whether you want children - and if so, when. Are there life milestones you want to reach first? Do you want parenthood within the next few years? How important is this to you and your partner?
There are a lot of conversations you have to have about family before you actually start a family. It's better to be on the same page early than to find yourself unpleasantly surprised later.
Discussing Careers and Places to Live
Whether or not you want to have children, you also want to make sure that your long-term life goals coincide with your partner's. Some people want to travel, while others want to stick close to home. Some people want to stay close to the place they grew up, while others prefer to move somewhere else.
Career ambitions are also important to talk about. Even if you don't have your dream job, maybe there's a dream job you want. Are you planning to go back to school? How will you finance it? Are you invested in the place you're working now, or could you relocate? Is what you're doing now the same thing you want to do for your entire life?
Depending on your partner's answers to these questions, one or both of you might have to compromise on your desires.
Compromising on Differences
The most important thing about compromise is that both parties are able to live with it. Both people should give something up so that the relationship and future can be more stable. In a well-reasoned compromise, neither party should feel cheated or resentful.
Basically, the end result has to be more important to you than the thing you're sacrificing. Can you pass up a promotion that would involve relocating so that you and your partner remain in a stable household? Or do you think you'd regret not taking the opportunity?
Once again, the key here is mutual respect. No compromise should ever be approached with the thought of "winning" or "punishing" the other partner. Instead, it should be a team effort for both of you to find a solution that works. You both need to want what's best for each other and for your future.
You also both need to be willing to make sacrifices. If you're constantly putting your dreams on hold for your partner's sake, but they won't bend for you, that's a fast recipe for resentment. And if you're not meeting your partner halfway, they may wind up resenting you.
#6. Hobbies and Interests
Shared hobbies are a great way to build a foundation. You don't have to share every interest with your partner. But in a healthy relationship, you and your partner should enjoy showing the other your hobbies.
Maybe you're interested in "nerdy" topics like video games and anime. Maybe you like outdoor recreation like golfing, water skiing, and swimming. Maybe you're into more heavily physical sports. Maybe you're from a rural area and enjoy shooting or four-wheeling in the backwoods.
Just a few categories of potentially shared interests include:
There are a ton of different forms of media that you might share with a partner. You don't have to like all of the same things, but some common ground is great. Maybe you both enjoy complex storytelling, or you like silly lighthearted humor, or you love a good mystery.
Some types of media you might bond over include:
And that just scratches the surface.
Once you know what both of you like, you can start exploring media together, too. Maybe you're both a fan of horror movies that are so bad they're good. Maybe you like easy-to-consume sitcoms with quirky characters. Maybe you like high drama with convoluted plotlines and giant stakes.
A shared interest in media is a great place to start bonding. In fact, that's how a lot of friendships start. Friendship is a vital part of being long-term partners, and this is one of the easiest ways to enjoy each other's company.
Outdoors and Recreation
Most medical professionals recommend getting out of the house once in a while. Sunshine, fresh air, and exercise are all good for the body. There are hundreds of different outdoor activities people engage in, and it's great to share them with a partner!
Maybe you both enjoy nature, exploring, and feeling like you're part of the world. That means that you might like:
Or maybe you're a fan of sports that get the blood pumping. You might both like:
And maybe you just like to spend quiet time outdoors. If that's the case, you might like to sit outside with a book and read while your partner catches up on work or looks at their own book beside you.
Creative pursuits are another great way to share your hobbies. Maybe you have similar forms of creativity. Or maybe you're both good at different creative disciplines - and you can combine them into an entire project!
Maybe you have skill with digital painting or graphic design or animation. Maybe you're a writer or poet. Maybe you can sketch or draw or design in a two-dimensional space. Maybe you enjoy sculpting or woodworking or building new structures.
Sharing creativity and bouncing ideas off your partner is another fantastic way to bond, and it'll bring you close faster than ever.
#7. Shared Activities
Having shared hobbies and interests means that you'll get a better understanding of each other, and that you'll have someone to share your excitement about things. But it also broadens your horizons for ways you can bond as a couple!
You might share activities like:
Mutual respect is a key component of any relationship, no matter whether it's a casual short-term fling or a much longer-lasting commitment. For a relationship to be healthy, both partners need to communicate openly and respect each other's views.
It's essential that everyone be willing to compromise and work for the good of all involved parties, rather than getting caught up in petty squabbling.
But when you're dating someone in a more serious capacity, shared interests are a huge priority. You're planning to spend a lot of time with this person. You should enjoy that time, right? And the best way to do that is by engaging in activities you already like.
Sharing interests means that you can bond on a deeper level. It gives you something to talk about besides the stress of life. It allows you to build not only a romantic relationship, but also a committed friendship. If you don't have anything in common with your partner, and don't want to find common ground, you'll just end up bored and unhappy.