You’ve heard the phrase your entire life. Maybe you agree, maybe you passionately dissent or maybe you just aren’t sure where you stand yet on the “opposites attract” theory. In the scope of a successful relationship, how important is this? Do you really need to be opposites – and what does that even mean? Tall & Short? Extrovert & Introvert? Wealthy & Eating-Instant-Ramen-Every Night? Here’s what I believe is the least important ingredient in a successful marriage (and no, it’s not what you think!)
What’s On Your Wishlist
Take a second and think about your perfect match wishlist. What does he or she look like? What are their hobbies, ambitions, & interests? What is their background? What did they study? Your list may be 30 items long or a meager 6. It may look something like, “Someone who is smart with a good education, settled in their career, objectively handsome, doesn’t wear sports jerseys to nonsporting events, supportive family, you know – the usual.
Of all of the things that you look for on your extensive list of the perfect match how important is “similar interests”? While there is a case to be made for each item on your wishlist, I think this takes the cake for least important. Here’s why:
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It may be great to have someone who enjoys the same hobbies as you, but it’s kinda exciting to find someone who introduces you to new things. I don’t think Sahir would have been caught at a musical, but we’ve now been to 4 musicals and I think that it’s been fun for both of us. I’ve also happily spent long afternoons at basketball, football, and even soccer games. I love experiencing new adventures whether aboard or in our backyard with my partner. It’s not something I would have chosen on my own, but that’s kinda why it’s so great.
Finding someone that fills your weak spots with their strengths isn’t something to be overlooked. We can see extreme examples like RBG (seriously obsessed with that documentary) where a very stoic and reserved woman was perfectly complemented by an outgoing and humorous man. But for the average person, even small differences in personality, interests, or upbringing can cause greater attraction.
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NEGOTIATE HOBBIES, NOT PRINCIPALS
If your partner shares your core values, everything else can be negotiable. If you find yourself in a conflict of priorities you may be in a precarious position. Relationships, particularly those headed towards marriage, can be long and challenging and you will need a partner who you can rely on with the same outlook on life. When the actual tough parts of your life happen and you have to make decisions about your marriage, children, parents or careers having a partner with the same foundation will be essential. Your values will also help you built longevity and connectivity which is what sticks around when your glittering careers have ended and children have left the nest. This is why you should treasure similar values over similar interests.
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Sahir and I on the surface could not look more different. Physicality aside, he is impulsive and I am a planner. He is patient and I am eager. He is completely okay with spending an entire Sunday watching back to back sports games and I am utterly not. At its core, it is our values that bring us close together – not interests and plus, how boring would it be to never see to new experiences or ideas.
Being with someone who challenges you, supports you, and opens your mind to new thoughts and ideas can be the best way to grow as a person. When advice comes from those that we respect and trust to have our best interest at heart, it carries more weight. It takes a lot for us to be self-aware and identify opportunities for us to grow individually, but it’s so important. If we know our own limitations, we can actively work towards those and surround ourselves with people who help support those initiatives. As always, whether advice is given or received – it’s important that all communication is both delivered and received respectfully.