Do You Have to Have Common Interests For A Successful Relationship?

I thought you needed the same interests in common with someone for any romantic relationship to be formed.

However, a man who traveled the world and interviewed the couples who had been together longest did a “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. He completely shattered this myth. He has interviewed dozens if not hundreds of successful couples and dispelled many myths that mass media and films have placed on us.  Here was his answer to the question. TLDR: Similar values and goals are important. Not interests or personalities. 

 

Question: Do those with similar personalities or dissimilar personalities seem to last the longest, or did that really not have any bearing on whether the relationship worked?

His answer: That was actually one of the things I was most curious about when I started my journey, and also one of the things that surprised me most.

It was honestly almost a 50/50 split. Some people swore that opposites attract, and really needed to have similar interests and personalities. Others were convinced that birds of a feather flock together, and that you need to compliment and balance each other out..

I think what was most important was not so much that people had the surface stuff in common, but that they had the same values, and similar goals. (ie: someone who is dedicated to personal growth was rarely found with someone who was happy to be complacent, someone who didn’t want kids was never found with someone who did.)

Values superseded interests.

When I talked to him and asked him for further elaboration on if it was OK I did not have any common interests this was his great response:

Part of the fun of being in a relationship is exploring someone else’s interests, supporting them in their passions, or even finding interests that are new to both of you.

For example, musical theater has never been my favorite thing (I don’t dislike it, but it’s not something I jump at the chance to experiene)… but my fiancée was recently in a musical, and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life to see her up on stage performing for an audience and doing what she loved.

A word that single people often focus on is “compatibility”… but rarely does that word come up with couples. I hear a lot more the word “complimentary.” Finding someone who will expose you to new things (and who you can expose to new things), and someone who helps to strengthen your weaknesses is far more powerful than finding a clone of yourself to spend the rest of your life with.

Now get out there and find someone! ;)

Sources:

This was one of the most thought-provoking helpful insights I learned online on relationships recently. I think it shows how many limiting beliefs still hinder us back on a daily basis that we are unaware of, especially someone like me who has gone through so much dating advice content (paid and unpaid products too).

A final quote from his AMA that I would like to share with you. Click the link above to see more of his responses:

Question: Did you find that there were universal characteristics that make a relationship successful across all groups, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, money, etc?

His answer: Absolutely. This was actually one of the most surprising things I learned on the journey.

Self Love

The happiest couples always consisted of two (sometimes more) emotionally healthy and independently happy individuals. These people practiced self-love. They treated themselves with the same type of care that they treated their partner… or at least they tried to.

Emotionally healthy people know how to forgive, they are able to acknowledge their part in any disagreement or conflict and take responsibility for it. They are self-aware enough to be assertive, to pull their weight, and to give love when it’s most difficult.

Commitment

After that emotional health came an unquestioning level of commitment. The happiest couples knew that if shit got real, their significant other wasn’t going to walk out on them. They knew that even if things got hard – no, especially if things got hard – they were better off together. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

Trust

Happy couples trust each other… and they have earned each others’ trust. They don’t worry about the other person trying to undermine them or sabotage them, because they’ve proven over and over again that they are each other’s biggest advocate. That trust is built through actions, not words. It’s day after day after day of fidelity, service, emotional security, reliability.

Establish that foundation, and you’re in good shape.

Intentionality

This is the icing on the cake. There’s a difference between the couple who drives through the rainstorm and the couple who pulls their car to the side of the road to make out in the rain. (Yes, that’s a true story.) There’s a difference between the couple who kisses for 10 seconds or longer when they say goodbye to each other rather than just giving each other a peck… or nothing at all. There’s a difference between the couples who encourage each other to pursue their personal goals at the expense of their own discomfort or inconvenience… even if it means their partner has to stage kiss another woman.

The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection, or create a fun memory are the couples who shattered my perception of what was possible in a loving relationship.

I underlined some important pieces of advice in the quote above. The “independently happy” thing really is eye-opening to me. There are a lot of people who may have been like me as a college or high school student and may have been mildly to severely depressed or sad or frustrated or angry that they do not have a girlfriend or any experience with girls or that the “clock is ticking on them” as they get older. I think from reading his answer and my own observations of people online and in person giving advice on relationships that you must be independently healthy psychologically and happy before getting into a relationship. Getting into a relationship may just make things worse or change nothing if you go into one insecure or without these things.

Examples:

or as Luanlegacy puts it: “I used to be like … if I had a boyfriend, I would be so much more happier, so much more outgoing .. and I got a boyfriend and fucking nothing changed. If anything, things got more complicated  because I have to talk to this b*tch all the time and I had to spend my money on him. The b*tch was clingy. I don’t do clingy.”

One of the most interesting answers he gives in his AMA:

Question: Do you think that appearance (ie how you look) has significant factor in getting people together?

like “That woman/man ‘looks’ nice…I think I’ll go talk to her.”…

in most animal kingdom, looks are what attracts potential mates…like bigger feathers, larger manes, brighter colors, ect ect…

His answer: I think that’s absolutely the case, yes. Though there are those who don’t experience overwhelming physical attraction from the get-go. Their attraction builds as their friendship builds.

Question: Why do you think we focus on romantic couples as the definition and goal of love rather than platonic couples? Why is it that two lovers being together for 50 years is more interesting than two friends?

Answer:

We model our lives and behavior off of the examples we’re given. For decades, Hollywood has glorified the romantic aspects of relationships. It’s definitely changed what people expect from a long-term relationship now… which is sad.

Ironically – after talking to literally scores of couples about their relationships – the partnerships with the most passion after years and years of togetherness are those who have a strong and undying friendship. It’s not about the sex so much as it is about the way their level of undying commitment, their endless support of each other, the way they laugh at each others jokes, and forgive each others wrongdoings.

The thing that makes an amazing best friend is what also makes an amazing partner… add in the romance and you take it to the next level. (We tend to do it backwards in our society, we start with the sex, then panic, and try to add in the friendship… which rarely works.)

Question:

Do you plan on continuing your travels and interviewing more couples or sticking with the hundred you have now? Also, how would you plan on financing this if you do plan on sticking to it? I wouldn’t be against backing something like this if that was ever an option

Edit: just thought of another question. How many of these couples were long term friends before being in a relationship? I’m talking childhood/grown up together levels of closeness

Answer:

I’d love to do this for the rest of my foreseeable future. I’m working on securing sponsors for the podcast, and even potentially doing another trip that includes video. PM me if you want more details.

With regards to your other question, absolutely. Most couples established a solid, long-term friendship over time before adding in the romance. One of my favorite couples – MeiMei and Kiran – met , and then built a relationship over email for several years before getting involved in a serious relationship.

Question: The age old question “How did you meet”. Was there any trends on how healthy relationships start.

Answer: Almost 100% of the time they started with a slow burn. Friendship first… sometimes a platonic friendship that lasted years and years.

I think this is VERY helpful for anyone trying to establish a long-term relationship or marriage. GO FOR THE BEST POSSIBLE FRIENDSHIP FIRST, the physical attraction and “seduction” can come later. It is pretty clear here that most of these long-lasting couples have become close through a slow-burn friendship that made them the best of friends first and sometimes the physical attraction was not there for one or both of the couples initially.

-Will

 

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One Comments

  • SiriusV21

    February 5, 2015

    I agree that values and goals are more important than interests and personality. This isn’t to say that sharing some interests from the start doesn’t help. At the end of the day, you’re going to have to still spend time and do things with your significant other. But like I said before, and what’s mentioned here, what’s more important is having an open mind to your partner’s interests and vice versa. There’s nothing better than sharing your interests and learning about your partner’s interests. You don’t have to have a ton of shared interests if you’re open to learning and enjoying new things.

    Reply

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