Saturday, August 21, 2010

On Common Interests

As I have been handing out a great many fliers for Smart Love at Pi-Con, I decided to delay part 6 of the Kink 101 until Monday. Don't worry, I did not forget.

Dan says: When I date someone, I want them to be into what I am into. When I go to a sci-fi con, I want to be able to bring her with me and not hear her complain that she is bored all the time.

Suzie says: A guy doesn't really need to be into the stuff that I am into. It is good to have outside interests. Sometimes you need to get away.

Some people feel that it is very important that a couple have common interests and enjoy hobbies together. Others feel that hobbies are good separate. They do this thing with their partner, but this other thing their partner is not involved in at all. Both of these viewpoints are entirely valid, but they will create different forms of relationships.

All Together Now
Many of us know a couple that is an inseparable unit. I don't mean the lovebirds, joined at the hip because they cannot stand to be apart. I am referring to the kind of couple that complements each other's skills and work together on a business or some other project. This can work very well. They are a tight team and they trust each other implicitly. They have the constant comfort of being part of something strong like that. On the downside, they do not get much time apart. If they need a great deal of alone time, this situation will cause friction. It is also very important that both people be good at conflict management. It is very difficult to leave work at the office, when the staff at the office comes home with you.

Some couples enjoy going to events such as conventions or nightclubs together. In the old days, a married couple was seen as an indivisible unit. Without discussing the greater social implications of this, I will say that when one encounters a couple like this, there is a certain amount of stability and gravitas that they project. These two people together are not just two people, they are an institution created by the strength of this relationship. Each member of the relationship also feels the confidence that comes with being something strong and stable. Of course, this is only the case if the couple comes across as being a strong, stable couple. The illusion is somewhat lost if they are fighting and sniping in public.

Often couples are more accepted than individuals, especially individual men, because a couple is seen as more stable and less threatening. Simply put, people are less concerned that a couple will run off with their wife or husband or daughter or son. This is not to say that single people are viewed with suspicion, but couples tend to be viewed with less concern. Interestingly, this phenomenon exists in the polyamorous as well as monogamous worlds.

Separate Paths to Meet Up On the Other Side
Some couples like to do their own thing and specifically spend their together time together. They each have their own hobbies and interests and when they spend time together it is intentional time with just them. This is a fine situation for many people. It means that any concerns and stresses from their activities will not splash back into the relationship. On the other hand, there is always a certain amount of distance that will remain in the relationship because of the separation. Each person will have people at work or in these other avocations that they share things with which their significant other will not understand.

Mr. Jennings says: I love to go out hunting, but Mrs. Jennings has no interest in even hearing about it. I love the smell of the woods, the thrill of the hunt. Since Mrs. Jennings is not interested in it, I have some buddies that I go on my hunting trips with.

While Mr. and Mrs. Jennings have a very close relationship, there are things about Mr. Jennings that Mrs. Jennings will never understand. Since he spends about 7 weekends every summer in the woods, there is a large piece of his life that she is not a part of. Neither of them mind this. He gets to do what he wants to do and she does not have to be involved in it. As we know, no one person can satisfy every single need of another person. In this case, Mr. Jennings satisfies his need to go hunting with his buddies. They know of a side of him that his wife does not and it works very well for everyone.

Should you share your hobbies and interests with your significant other? That is a question that only you can answer. Perhaps you would find it more comfortable to keep your interests completely separate. Maybe you would love the idea of conquering the world side by side with your soul mate. Perhaps you are somewhere in the middle. There is no right answer except for the answer that is right for you and the person you are with. The important thing is to communicate about it openly and honestly and to be sure that the style that you choose is the right one for everyone involved.


  1. This is a very interesting post and something I was talking about not to recently. If I may, here is my take.

    I want to be with someone who I have stuff in common with. Now, for me, there are two types of "in common". Things such as; movies, music, hobbies. Those are nice, but what I am more interested in having in common are values, ideals, opinions etc.

    I also think it's important to not have stuff in common, but not to the point it will cause an argument. Having stuff not in common means you have a chance to introduce you partner to something new, share new experiences, get them into something they weren't into before. With the "heavier" stuff you may just share an opinion that causes them to go, "Hey I never thought of it that way". If they don't it's still okay. There is nothing wrong with friendly, healthy debate.

  2. Having activities in common is no guarantee of real intimacy, nor does having separate interests automatically create distance. Thinking of common interests as closely linked to level of intimacy is a recipe for disaster.

    Being very similar people is NOT the same as intimacy. Intimacy is learning and accepting who someone is. I'd argue that having differences can lead to much greater intimacy, as you actually have to go through the process of finding out who your partner is. If you have all the same interests (and/or beliefs, experiences, values, etc.), then there's no process of discovery.

    The differences between partners are the good parts. They're what make two people stronger and better together. Yes, you need common ground as well. But if you're nothing but common ground, one of you is redundant to the relationship.