Instead of avoiding somebody’s differences, embrace them
You’re standing at a bar, half way through another drink, considering your next move. You came here looking for love and have instead found loneliness, and bar nuts. You decide to cut your losses, but just as you go to ask for the check, somebody catches your eye from across the bar. Was that a connection? It felt like a connection, though it might have been the alcohol telling you that. Regardless, you pluck up enough Dutch courage to go over and strike up a conversation. During the chat, it turns to small talk, and it goes a little something like this.
Them: “What’s your favourite film?”
You: “[insert answer]”
Them: “No way, that’s my favourite film too! What’s your favourite band?”
You: “[insert answer]”
Them: “Oh, they are my favourite too. Isn’t it so cute that we like all the same things?”
A common thought is that the secret sauce required to build a successful relationship is finding somebody who has the same interests and passions as you. Many believe that by connecting with similar personalities and ‘types’ you can prevent things from getting messy and overly complicated. Put bluntly, it can make things simple.
While it’s nice to share some common ground, simple can cause a real problem. If you both agree on absolutely everything, and love all the same things — it makes your relationship boring as fuck. And we all know that when things get stale, they don’t last.
When people ask me what I love the most about my relationship, I always point to the fact that we are so different. And I mean, so different. At times it’s so black and white it’s laughable. We don’t like the same type of movies. We don’t listen to same genres of music. We don’t have the same opinions on the majority of topics. We don’t have the same routine. We don’t share the same hobbies. Nobody understands it.
But you know what? I love this about us. When you’ve been with somebody for over 10 years years, trust me, it’s these differences that make our relationship worth waking up for (though we don’t wake up at the same time).
Her interests have brought excitement to my life that I would never have had. From simple things like trying exotic foods (did you know they serve pineapple on pizza?) to adventurous things like embarking on vacations to India and Vietnam, I have experienced so much and through it I’ve developed a far more cultured view about the world.
Her influences have opened my eyes to new perspectives and new ideas. In our environment of difference, there’s no echo chamber. We both have our opinions and beliefs challenged regularly — in short, I don’t get away with talking shit. But we also have a mutual respect and a willingness to understand and learn from each other. This sharing of ideas is one of the best parts of a relationship.
What’s more important is that I know our connection is based on more than surface level commonality. Our common ground is found deeper down, because there’s barely any on the top. Building a relationship with someone that isn’t tied together by similar interests is harder work — but it leads to a stronger and more meaningful bond.
The perception of opposite is that it’s bad. Like right or wrong. But it’s the opposite nature that actually compliments. It’s what causes the attraction. It’s what makes the relationship a little edgy and intense. (For the sake of non-bias, the science disagrees. But what does science know?!) Although difference can lead to some interesting challenges, it’s also the source of one of the most important aspects of a relationship — the chemistry that you share.
Don’t hold out for someone who likes the exact same things you like. If you do, you’ll set yourself on a one-way train to Boredom Town. Yes, there is a period of uncertainty as you explore the other side that can be unsettling. But that’s the same for any new challenge that we embark on. If you can overcome the initial resistance that comes with change, the rewards can be worth every moment.
Find someone whom you share some common ground with, but make it a person who also isn’t afraid to stay true to who they are. Rather than trying to avoid their differences, embrace them.