Do couples need to have similar interests to be happy?
- The theory of opposites attracting in romantic relationships is credited to Robert Frances Winch, who studied couples in the 1950s and came to the conclusion that “everyone is ultimately searching for characteristics they lack.”
- According to a recent study published in Psychological Science, people share specific attributes with their significant others, such as “age, educational level, race, religion, attitudes, and general intelligence,” however, most notably, “little evidence has been found for similarity in personality—one of the most fundamental psychological constructs.”
- An EliteSingles survey found that 68% of those polled reported dissimilar tastes in entertainment such as “books, movies, TV shows” from their significant others and that the most important habit for compatibility was “self-care routines.”
- A Pew Research Center poll of married Americans found that the top three components to a successful marriage were “having shared interests” (64%), “satisfying sexual relationship” (61%), and “sharing household chores” (56%).
While the saying 'opposites attract' is cliché, its central message is critical in both creating and sustaining healthy relationships. Of course, there are certain factors that should be agreed upon—religion and politics among them—but couples don't need shared interests to be successful. According to Psychology Today, partners should instead emphasize mutual respect and understanding for one another. These qualities allow for personal independence and a stronger appreciation for the other person as an individual. Plus, practicing respect in a relationship can affect a person's overall behavior, allowing them to be more agreeable with friends, family, coworkers, and even strangers.
Having separate lives and interests is better for relationships. For example, if one person likes bike riding and the other reading, each can pursue those interests without guilt or resentment. Additionally, differing interests can result in self-improvement—maybe one person helps the other appreciate books more, while the other reveals the thrill of mountain biking. Staying in a bubble, so to speak, keeps you from enjoying all that the world has to offer. Separate interests also establish a better sense of self, benefitting both the individual and the relationship.
In terms of friend groups, social separation prevents unhealthy codependency and allows for beneficial venting. No relationship is perfect and, while gossip isn't good, speaking with objective friends for advice or input removes the burden from both partners and generates a safe space for communication. In the end, the foundation to any good relationship is a strong understanding of self-worth and identity, which a lack of common interests can help establish.
The long-held belief that 'opposites attract' is quickly being disproved.
Couples need to share similarities to be happy and for their relationships to last longer. In fact, the 2019 eHarmony Happiness Index revealed the number one factor for a successful relationship is a similarity in several aspects, including interests.
What makes couples with similar interests truly happy are the things they can experience together. For instance, couples with a common career interest are more understanding during difficult times. And studies show that couples who stick together during rough patches are likely to be happier in the long run.
Similarly, individuals who share similar hobbies or passions will have more reasons to spend time together. In addition to giving them topics to discuss and memories to cherish, common interests allow them to be together.
And this has proven to increase happiness while reducing stress. In fact, happy couples in long-term relationships tend to experience calmness because their relationships stimulate parts of the brain that suppress anxiety and pain.
Another benefit of sharing similar interests is the ability to have fun in the relationship. In addition to increasing bonding and communication, elements of fun promote spontaneity. Together, these benefits allow couples to experience positive emotions, which, in turn, increase their happiness.
Therefore, for people who wish to enjoy a happy, long-lasting relationship, common interests are a must. Fortunately, finding common interests together can be quite easy by following the right tips early in a relationship. Taking the time to plan and experiment with finding common ground could yield a lifetime of happiness for a couple.