I have often heard it said that successful relationships are built on common interests. Like attracts like, they say, to reinforce the argument. Before proceeding any further, let me clarify that by ‘successful’, all I mean is that the couple gets through the day without mortally wounding each other while living under one roof.
Where was I now? Ah, shared interests! Are common interests important in a relationship? While it is wonderful to do things together, common interests in relationships are not mandatory for a successful or enduring partnership. By having separate spheres of activities, even professions, the relationship thrives on a personal level and on a professional level where competitiveness might otherwise disturb the harmony.
Types Of Common Interests In A Relationship
Some of us might believe that having the space to pursue one’s activities or hobbies is even more important than sharing the same interests. It is this space that allows the relationship to breathe. I would find it immensely claustrophobic to be doing everything with my partner, without finding my ‘me-time’ or my own set of friends.
Let us consider both aspects of this debate of common interests vs uncommon ones. Let us see who wins. I will try and put out each point with the help of a personal anecdote and let you be the judge.
1. Food habits
We do share a lot of interests, my partner and I. Take, for instance, food. It is a common interest that we fondly share. We love exploring this arena together. Trying new joints, new cuisines, new dishes, etc, is like our thing. In fact, this was the first thing we connected on during our early days. We can still discuss food for eternity. “She is mine and I am her foodie buddy.” This could be a cheesy t-shirt quote, right?
Interestingly, we have differences here too. I love cooking it and she loves eating it! To be fair, she eats everything I make, even some of the dishes that are of the creative experimental kind. When we try a new dish, she relishes the taste while I am thinking about the recipe. We often argue about this difference in approach.
The question is do we let the differences trump the goodness of our shared experience, or do we take the differences as spices and add flavors to our common interests? Well, we try to do the latter and it has definitely helped us keep our tongues craving for more adventures.
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We also love traveling. We are both curious souls. We both crave new experiences. Travel would easily be one of the most common interests for couples. We are avid wanderers. So much that most of what we make is spent on these vagabond adventures.
Same interests don’t mean that we derive the same flavor from each of them. I travel for the whole experience while she sets out for the next thing on the agenda. Like, we start on our journey and I am admiring the sights and sounds and she is already thinking of the destination and the tea/dinner that would follow. And once we reach our destination, for her, it is about the things to do – one after the other, and then the trip back! And no, it is not just because she is tired from all the driving or jittery about the drive back.
The bottom line is we both love traveling. The experience rejuvenates both our souls. We accept the different ways it affects both of us and in a way that is what makes it more fulfilling. Being a part of each other’s journey without losing focus on your own is what relationships are all about. This is one of the reasons why you should travel with your partner.
3. Living together
I told you that we both like food, right? Well, she loves cooking too. And yes we are back at the food, but what can I say, it is a huge part of our lifestyle. We happily share the load of day-to-day cooking. It is our favorite recreational activity. This one time as an anniversary surprise we decided to make each other something special and keep it a secret until it was time to eat. And guess what, we ended up making the same dish. Talk about the same interests!
But she likes to share this activity. Like the time she offered to make Ramen, for instance. After telling her categorically that she can use her recipe, she hollered, “Can you tell me how I should chop the garlic? Just show me one piece and I will do the rest.” Once that problem was disposed of, I sighed and returned to my book when she called me again. “Can you tell me which spices I have to put? Just this once.” I had to walk back to the kitchen biting my tongue till it bled to avoid any friction.
For me, cooking is where I find peace, where I enjoy my me-time. For her, on the other hand, it is something that she likes to share. But then sharing is caring, isn’t it?
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Oh, this is a fun one! We both love partying and going out but we loath socializing equally. Yes, we are walking paradoxes. The thing is that we love hanging out with a selective breed of people. We are both very similar in avoiding unsolicited socializing, especially encounters with relatives. We come up with such creative excuses that it has almost become a matter of pride for us. Because of this similarity, we often come to each other’s rescue when the times get tough.
Our reasons for this antisocial outlook are quite different though. She avoids such situations because she would rather spend this time doing something she actually finds value in. On the other hand, I duck them because somewhere I have a belief that I don’t really understand how to keep a conversation going.
The beautiful part is that we understand why we are similar and where our differences lie. This understanding makes us a great team. Especially when it comes to avoiding nosey relatives.
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Of course, I hate it and she loves it. The worst part is that she loves taking me with her. She says she likes my opinions, but I am pretty sure I go to carry the bags. I don’t get the point of roaming around to get stuff when you can have everything delivered to your doorstep.
Yup, you guessed it right, I am an online shopper. The number of options and the attractive prices is simply insane. Why would I ever leave the comfort of my home? We both like showing off our purchases to each other at home as we become expert critics. Even though it gets heated sometimes, we both love the exercise.
We try to give each other space to do things our way. It needs to be widely accepted, that everyone has a different perspective and all we need from the world is for it to accept and validate our perspective. She is my world and I am blessed that she makes me feel validated. At least as far as shopping is concerned. I am kidding, the validation is universal. Are women hardwired to seek validation from men? I don’t think so, we all crave it. Mutual validation is a very strong glue that binds a couple together.
I can go on and on about a zillion other common interests we share and differ at, but you get the drift, don’t you? Suffice to say that we have survived four decades in this business of common interests for couples, without sharing the same interests or activities as portrayed in the media. The real debate is not common interests vs uncommon interests, but differences vs compatibility. Core relationship interests trump superficial shared interests.
I am sure there are millions of couples like us who are doing fabulously without breathing down each other’s neck 24×7 in the name of shared interests. So go ahead and do things by yourself once in a while, or more often if you like. Your relationship won’t collapse, believe me!
How important are common interests in relationships? If you ask me, I’d say yes and no! You see, acceptance, compatibility, communication, and mutual happiness are the base. If you have common interests at the base, then all the other differences will only add spice to your relationship.
The pillars on which a relationship stands are communication, compatibility, acceptance, and mutual happiness. These should be the common interests for couples. If the foundation of a relationship is based on these common interests, then the differences will just be adventures you experience together.
There are no cans and cannots in the world of dating. We can find examples of all kinds of combinations being successful and failures, It all boils down to the core beliefs in a relationship. If you have relationship interests that match at the core, everything else will eventually fall into place.
It is preferable to date someone with whom you share interests as common topics help pave the way for any relationship. But the point to consider is how do you negate the differences. You can have all the superficial similarities and still feel disconnected.