HOW IM­POR­TANT are COM­MON in­ter­ests in a Re­la­tion­ship?

De­bunk­ing the myth that is in­ter­est-based com­pat­i­bil­ity.

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Love -

I found my­self seated across from a guy with a deep af­fec­tion for World Wrestling En­ter­tain­ment (WWE). De­spite my steadily de­creas­ing vested in­ter­est in the suc­cess of this date, I lis­tened in­tently to his anec­dotes: see­ing The Un­der­taker in the flesh, his fa­vorite fe­male con­tenders, his ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of faux cham­pi­onship belts. Un­for­tu­nately for this fella, it wouldn’t have mat­tered how well he treated me down the line—in my mind, he will for­ever be The Wacko Wrestling Fan­boy Who Isn’t Get­ting A Text Back To­mor­row. A lit­tle abra­sive, don’t you think?

I thought so my­self. In as­sess­ing a po­ten­tial ro­man­tic part­ner, we of­ten take their in­ter­ests into great con­sid­er­a­tion. And the econ­omy of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is pretty rea­son­able: When you find some­one who likes the same bizarre un­der­ground bands as you, it’s noth­ing short of a magic mo­ment. Com­mon in­ter­ests are a rel­a­tively re­li­able barom­e­ter for com­pat­i­bil­ity; for in­stance, if you sub­scribe to the same late-night hosts, it’s likely your po­lit­i­cal POVS are aligned. To­day, dif­fer­ences be­tween part­ners are eas­ily dis­tin­guish­able, es­pe­cially on apps like Tin­der, where the to­tal­ity of a per­son’s char­ac­ter is re­duced to a bio and a bunch of pho­tos. How­ever, a Venn di­a­gram of com­mon in­ter­ests that is ba­si­cally two sep­a­rate cir­cles doesn’t mean your re­la­tion­ship is doomed to fail. In fact, it might just be kooky enough to work. Alain de Bot­ton, au­thor of The Course

of Love, is of the rad­i­cal be­lief that every­one, ev­ery­where, ends up mar­ry­ing the wrong per­son. Keep in mind that mar­ry­ing for love is a his­tor­i­cally new con­cept— prior to the mid-20th cen­tury, mar­riages were pri­mar­ily for fi­nan­cial or po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, to en­sure the con­ti­nu­ity of a fam­ily’s lin­eage. Even to­day, peo­ple in ar­ranged mar­riages don’t get to back out when they find out their new spouse is a to­tal slob. Neat freak? Too bad your for­ever life part­ner hates do­ing the dishes!

This is why, even at the dat­ing level, we tend to be ruth­less in weed­ing peo­ple out: we pre­sume that small dis­agree­ments will spell ab­so­lute may­hem for big­ger is­sues in the fu­ture. “The per­son who is best suited to us is not the per­son who shares our ev­ery taste (he or she doesn’t ex­ist), but the per­son who can ne­go­ti­ate dif­fer­ences in taste in­tel­li­gently—the per­son who is good at dis­agree­ment,” ad­vises de Bot­ton. “[It’s] the

ca­pac­ity to tol­er­ate dif­fer­ences with gen­eros­ity that is the true marker of [a good re­la­tion­ship]. Com­pat­i­bil­ity is an achieve­ment of love. It must not be its pre­con­di­tion.”

Let’s say your guy op­er­ates on Filipino time, while you make it a point to be 15 min­utes early. You’re not big on so­cial me­dia, but he likes to doc­u­ment ev­ery­thing, all the time. In the spec­trum of “too much” and “too lit­tle,” both of you have room for im­prove­ment. This is where per­ceived in­com­pat­i­bil­ity can be used to your ad­van­tage. By ac­knowl­edg­ing your dif­fer­ences and mak­ing a gen­uine ef­fort to match one an­other, you can fa­cil­i­tate mu­tual growth and ma­tu­rity.

Here’s some­thing you’ve heard be­fore: Re­la­tion­ships work best when you have a life out­side of your sig­nif­i­cant other. The same goes for hav­ing an iden­tity that is au­ton­o­mous from his. When you eighty-six the “two be­come one” mind­set and nurture in­ter­ests that are dif­fer­ent from the other per­son’s, you hold on to your sense of self. Hold­ing on to a healthy re­la­tion­ship shouldn’t be too far be­hind.

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