From ‘You gotta find common ground!’ to ‘Opposites attract!’, there’s a plethora of contradictory (and often unwanted) advice that couples get when discussing how important common interests are in a relationship.
While both sides have a point, you will find eventually that the answer to this question cannot be found without a bit of trial and error.
What a famous couple can teach us
Nasiruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak have been giving us couple goals from before the term couple goals even existed. They’ve been married for 34 years and have talked openly about the ups and downs of being in love numerous times. In an interview with the ‘80s published in Stardust magazine, we find them talking about the very question we are grappling with.
They said that they don’t have a lot of common interests and found that to be a good thing. They had completely opposite interests. For example, she loved cooking and he hated it. But Ms Pathak says that it’s these differences that have kept their relationship fresh in all these years.
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Having different interests also gives us a space of our own in a relationship. The idea of a long-term relationship is usually to cohabitate. Which is great fun? But it can become too much. Familiarity does breed contempt in most cases and the little breaks that our individual activities provide us act like breathing spaces in a relationship. So if your partner doesn’t like watching films and you do, there’s nothing wrong with going and watching it with someone else, or by yourself even. As a culture, we have put so much importance on doing things together that we judge people who can respect each other’s wishes to do different things in life. But forcing each other to play golf or watch cricket when the other one hates it, just because society expects us to do things together, sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it?
The other side of the coin
There’s, however, the other side of the coin. Having a few interests which are shared is vital for a well-balanced relationship. Opposites attract in some cases, but if your worlds are so far apart that you feel left out of a relationship, it is unhealthy. Even Ratna Pathak and Naseeruddin Shah had their acting and love for theatre in common. That’s in fact how they met!
Shares interests become rituals
Having shared interests also helps in planning activities in a relationship. Bipasha Basu and husband Karan Singh Grover share their love of fitness and have said that working out together is an important ritual in their relationship. In an interview for TOI, he said that they push each other like Olympic athletes while training and their love makes exercising even better.
Research has shown that families, not just couples, who play a game together, develop stronger bonds. This research was done based on video games, by the way, not even physical sport. That’s saying something. Shared interests, when treated like a ritual, have therapeutic value.
An easy way to
When we begin seeing someone, we try our best to impress them and pretend to sometimes like things they do. In this period, if you find an interest that is shared, your bonding becomes quicker and smoother. While there is fun to be had in introducing your boo to a whole new interest that you have and they don’t, it can be equally fun to know that they love something just as much as you do.
The litmus test
Look at friendships or any non-blood relationships. We choose our friends, especially as we grow older, based on common interests. It is often the starting point for a conversation in any relationship. We know that we could at least talk about this one thing; it could be food, fashion, sport, psychology, even mathematics! Common interests act like a litmus test in the starting of any new connection.
Shared interests are great but not mandatory
Shared interests then provide us with the space to talk at the beginning of a relationship. They act like a common ground apart from your love that keeps adding a layer of connection in a relationship. The peer pressure to have shared interests, however, is unfounded and if you both have a separate happening social and cultural life and choose to pursue things alone without roping in your partner in every activity, it is perfectly all right. Shared interests are an added advantage, and by no means should be made into a sign of a good relationship.