If You Want Your Relationship To Last, Experts Say You Don't Have To Have These 9 Things In Common
While you'll probably have a lot in common with your partner, you definitely don't need to be cut from the same cloth in order to have a lasting relationship. It's not necessary to do all the same things, or like all the same things. And many times, you don't even have to share larger goals — like career aspirations — in order to be together.
Of course, there are some areas where it can help to agree. "Couples who share core values and beliefs are more likely to maintain a long-term relationship," Sheila Tucker, LAMFT, a licensed associate marriage and family therapist and owner of Heart Mind & Soul Counseling, tells Bustle. "These are the fundamental values that collectively create a shared meaning within their relationship."
This might include having similar financial goals, views on marriage and kids — basically, areas where it's difficult to compromise. But for everything else, you can get through by taking an interest in each other's differences and providing plenty of support, Tucker says.
Differences don't have to be a problem, and can even be eye-opening if you choose to share them with each other. As long as you have similar core values and work to create a harmonious relationship, experts say you can still have a long-lasting relationship, even if you don't have the following in common.
"We're often led to believe that we need to be compatible in every area of our lives in order for a relationship to work," Tucker says. "However, relationships often work best when [you] have the ability to both do things apart, as well as together."
And that's why it's perfectly fine — and even beneficial — to not share the same hobby. "As long as you're able to prioritize spending quality and meaningful time together," Tucker says, it doesn't matter if you'd rather ride your bike while your partner stays home to read.
2. Extroversion Vs. Introversion
If you're an introvert while your partner prefers to go out and soak up some social vibes, never fear. "This is a case where differences can come in handy," Tucker says. "The more extroverted partner is able to help the more introverted partner make small talk and meet people, while the more introverted partner may introduce their extroverted partner to the power of a quiet evening at home."
Again, it's about appreciating your differences and remaining open to learning new things. "It really comes down to having an understanding of your partner, and their wants," Tucker says.
While it's always nice to have a group of mutual friends, and to get along with each other's closest pals, it's certainly not necessary to have friends in common in order to stick together.
In fact, "distance between your mate and friends is a good thing," Kimberly Friedmutter, life management expert and double board-certified hypnotherapist, tells Bustle. You probably tell your best friend all about your relationship anyway, and having some distance there can be healthy, she says.
It's also refreshing to step out and hang with friends without your partner, as it creates a sense of individuality and space that's necessary in any long-term relationship.
You might not understand why something piques your partner's curiosity, and they might feel puzzled by your interests, but that's OK.
Again, "maintaining your sense of 'self' in a relationship is instrumental to its and your survival," Ritu Reimer, MA, LPC, a licensed professional counselor, tells Bustle. And having different interests can aid in that.
You definitely wouldn't want to bail on a hobby or interest, either, simply because your partner doesn't get it. "Decreasing or ceasing involvement in pleasurable activities can fuel resentment toward your partner and the relationship," Reimer says. So if you differ, simply offer support and do your thing.
5. Sex Drive
Having a similar desire for sex can definitely make your relationship easier, but it's not required for long-term success. "With communication and a commitment to affection and playfulness, couples can find healthy ways to bridge a gap between levels of desire," psychotherapist Joanne KetchLPC, LMFT, LCDC, NCC, tells Bustle.
If it does start to feel like a problem, however, couples therapy can be a big help. You can open up about what you do and don't want by talking about sex more often. By making it a part of everyday conversation in your relationship, you can learn to meet each other's needs.
6. Professional Goals
If you're in grad school and your partner isn't, or they thrive in one field while you're better in another, it doesn't have to have an impact on your relationship.
You will, however, want to "support each other and communicate," Massiel Bradbury, LPC, a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship issues, tells Bustle, "especially when there are decisions to be made that can impact the relationship (i.e. relocation, spending savings on business, etc.)."
Again, it's about supporting each other's differences and being understanding, more than it is about being the same.
7. Interests In Shows & Books
"Like having different hobbies, being interested in different shows and books can lead to interesting conversations with your partner," Shannon Wiggins, LCSWA, a psychotherapist and owner of Genesis Balance Counseling, tells Bustle. So even though it might feel like a (small) dealbreaker, this can actually be a good thing.
"Watching separate shows on individual devices for instance, or reading different books are things you can do while still in the presence of your partner," Wiggins says. "You can spend time together while being engaged in the things you love individually, which can help with bonding with your partner."
8. Music Preferences
If movie plots were to be believed, you might think having the exact same taste in music means you're destined to be together, and guarantees you'll live happily ever after. But this is far from the truth.
"You are each entitled to maintain your individual identities and be able to enjoy music and other interests as you did prior to being in a relationship," Liana Lorenzo-Echeverri, MS, a registered marriage and family therapist intern, tells Bustle.
Having different tastes can even be fun, since it means you'll get to show each other new genres, and expand each other's horizons.
9. Favorite Foods
You don't have to be twins in the dietary department, either. "It’s OK for your partner to have a different preferred cuisine," Lorenzo-Echeverri says. And it's OK to have different views or needs related to food, like if one if you is vegetarian and the other isn't. This can even allow for fun date nights, she says, as you introduce each other to your preferences.
While it's beneficial to agree on the big stuff, like your core goals and values, you don't need to have other things — like hobbies, friends, and even energy levels — in common in order to have a lasting relationship.