How Important Are Common Interests in a Relationship?


Hi Evan, I’m new to your site and advice, but I’m already hooked on your refreshingly honest advice and wisdom. I’ve read “Why He Disappeared”, and searched for some answers on your blog. There’s just one big thing I can’t seem to grasp: Is there a difference between compatibility and commonalities?

I’ve recently become interested in the artistic, sensitive type men. I’ve always been an artist myself, but have NEVER appreciated men with these qualities. I feel good about this new development, as I think it means I have more self-confidence, am less competitive, and just long for someone who understands the pros and cons of being creative for a living.

However, thanks to you, I also know that men don’t want to date themselves. This makes perfect sense to me; variety is one of my favorite things. But I do want common interests with a man, and the creative connection is now pretty important to me. Would an artistic, sensitive man ever want to date an artistic, sensitive woman? Or would we be incompatible because of these shared qualities?

Wondering if I should be looking for someone MORE different than myself…Amber

Okay, let me unravel this for all the readers who haven’t read “Why He Disappeared” yet (although if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?!).

You may be the best of friends, have amazing chemistry, and really “get” each other, but if both of you have the same flaws, the relationship may be untenable.

First of all, I did say that men didn’t want to date themselves, but that statement independent of its context is highly misleading.

The point was that if you want to date a smart, strong, successful man, his greatest concern isn’t necessarily whether you have a Masters’ degree, speak a second language, or have a summer home in the Hamptons. It’s how he feels around you. Most men ultimately gravitate toward women who make them feel sexy, funny and trusted.

That does not mean that men are not attracted to the female version of themselves. I spent 35 years chasing the female version of me — intellectual, liberal, passionate, opinionated; it just never WORKED, that’s all.

So do creative guys like creative women? No doubt. The problem isn’t whether such men will like you or understand you. The problem is whether your weaknesses will exacerbate each other.

Are you both highly emotional? Are you both fanciful dreamers? Are you sometimes depressed or even bipolar? Do you run from anything that seems stable because it seems boring? Do either of you have any practical skills? Will you ever be able to afford to raise children? Are either of you saving for retirement?

Because you may be the best of friends, have amazing chemistry, and really “get” each other, but if both of you have the same flaws, the relationship may be untenable. This is what I mean by compatibility.

Common interests have NOTHING TO DO with compatibility.

I will repeat: common interests have NOTHING TO DO with compatibility.

Compatibility is about respect, first and foremost. If you like running, and I don’t, we can be perfectly happy together — as long as you don’t judge me for not running and I don’t try to stop you from running.

Common interests have NOTHING TO DO with compatibility.

It’s that simple.

Runners and artists and surfers and actors and musicians and doglovers are often attracted to those who have the same hobbies. Except these hobbies are not (or at least should not be) the things upon which your marriage is based. Two doglovers that don’t know how to communicate are doomed. Two intellects that are stubborn and busy will struggle. Two skiers that can’t trust don’t stand a chance.

So don’t worry about whether you’re dating a sensitive artist or not. Worry about whether your relationship is easy and whether you’re built for the long haul. Your common interests may draw you together but they will not keep you together.

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  1. 41

    Seems to be a whole lot of different viewpoints here and Ive lately been wondering about the same subject. Ive been with my girlfriend about 5 years now, but have realised that we dont actually have common interests apart from hanging out together socially. We are very compatible, but have our ups and downs and argue about a few things mainly because we operate a bit differently. But generally its good.

    Is it too unrealistic to find a girl that is interested in my hobbies so we get to spend more time together? We do a few things together but in the end our interests are far apart. I realise that not everyone is into the whole “work, sleep, do everything” with your partner thing, but Id prefer that.

  2. 42
    Mirjam Schoon

    I ended up here by accidence. Interesting and good artikel. Thanks.

  3. 43

    Well said!! thanks for sharing beautiful blog with us. Relationships are only successful if there is good understanding between the two. Keep sharing your blogs, it’s very interesting to read.

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  5. 45

    Hi. I was recently made conscious about havung things in common with your partner and it got me wondering about me and my fiance… I realised that there is nothing significant that we have in common, so I typed my question into google and came across your blog and I must say THANK YOU, your blog just cleared up my worries… its as if this was written for me and just waiting for me to get here… Thank you so much. Please continue with your blog, i’ll start following it now…

  6. 46
    Judy Smith

    Intelligence, wide range of interests, a story teller that is funny, witty, jokes, laughs.

    Yet is very interesting talking about world affairs, beauty of earth, sky, ocean, mountains.

    Can cry openly when moved emotionally.   Open with all feelings. Attentive. Affectionate.


    NOW, is this a fantasy OR what?   LOL

  7. 47
    Judy Smith

    What do you mean ‘manage.’?

  8. 48


    I and my partner are not compatible. We can’t have a single discussion without a misunderstanding. He is not open to me(secretive). I love travelling but each time we do he always get me on my nerves with his attitude of always defending female passengers in the bus. He talks and argue alot even when he is not suppose to.   He prefers we both have fun with friends rather than just us two. I tried opening   up to him before but he instead got so mad at me and his attitude changed. I love dancing ,playing,   makeups looking good you know, going out as a couple to watch   a movie. I am pregnant now for him. But honestly I feel so so bored. In this relationship.

  9. 49

    My husband and I don’t have everything in common but it doesn’t matter. But we have the same values and principles in life.

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