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How To Find Common Interests (Not Compromise) in Your Relationship

When we first start dating, we are often taught that you have to compromise in order for both you and your partner to be happy.

I hate the phrase “opposites attract.” It is misleading and couples who buy into it often find themselves miserable and constantly sacrificing their own interests to spend time with their partner.

If you aren’t outdoorsy, and have no interest in becoming outdoorsy because you have bad allergies and find nature bothersome, don’t readily date a person who constantly hikes and camps. If you could care less about the art museums and operas and would rather spend your Saturdays watching the game, don’t date someone who is going to demand that you dress up and attend the latest gallery opening reception every weekend.

When we first start dating, we are often taught that you have to compromise in order for both you and your partner to be happy. We are taught that at some point you will have to sit begrudgingly in a mall while she shops, or be bored out of your mind while watching him work on his car. This type of interaction isn’t compromise, it’s sacrifice and it creates resentment. Both partners are rarely engaged in this kind of interaction, which makes that time spent together hollow.

Compromise is when you and your partner actively find solutions to conflicts together. One party doesn’t lose. Resentment isn’t created. You and your partner openly communicate about what you want and how it can be achieved together.

A few positive ways to find common interests that you can both get behind include:

Finding a Cause

Finding a cause doesn’t mean that you both have to be activists protesting out in the streets. For instance, cheering on a sports team could be a cause. If you both football fans and live in a city like San Diego then rally around the Chargers! Buy Chargers gear, tailgate and attend games, and find friends to watch the game with. You’ll both get excited, can have more involved conversations, and share a passion. If football isn’t your thing, bands, artists, politics, or organizations can all supply you and your partner with adequate causes to get behind. Just find one and run with it!

Thinking of Fun Challenges

Say you and your partner both like reading, but you would rather gouge out your eyes than read her drab nonfiction. Instead of demanding that you both read each other’s reading list, consider creating a simple reading challenge. See who can read the most books. You’ll both be helping each other grow while also inviting in some friendly competition.

Other challenges could involve learning new skills, practicing old ones, or something silly, like who can snap the most photos of funky dressed people or dogs with funny haircuts. Just try to steer clear of challenges that could make someone feel inferior, such as weight loss. The point is to encourage and support your individual selves together, not tear each other apart.

Trying New Things Together

Healthy individuals have hobbies that they like to do on their own, and when we enter a relationship we often demand that our partner become involved in our hobbies. Surprise, surprise! This isn’t healthy. What is actually healthy is that you maintain your individuality by maintaining those hobbies for you and your alone time, and that your partner take an active interest by supporting you in your individual interests.

If you want you and your partner to have an activity to do together, try out new ones together. Classes taught at local community centers or community colleges, such as cooking classes or art classes, are great avenues to give something new a try. Local sporting clubs often offer obscure sports lessons such as curling lesson or mountain climbing. Sites such as Meet-up can also be an easy way to find different activities to find, and even picking out a random Groupon activity can lead to a new passion you can pursue together. Just don’t be afraid to try something out of your norm.

It’s no secret that couples who do things together tend to stay together. However, that doesn’t mean that either partner should be pressuring each other to partake in their own agendas.

The old phrase “when two become one” is actually the basis for a highly negative and unhealthy relationship. Healthy couples also consist of individuals who can carry on their own lives. So instead of forcing each other to do things, have fun exploring new things together. You’ll be happier and feel more fulfilled all around.

This post is written by Jenna Brown.