The 20% Rule Of Sharing Hobbies In A Relationship

This is article #40 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

(Photo: Sara Robertson)

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A lot of couples freak out about their differences in relationships: “He likes to read at home every evening and goes to the movies twice a week, but I’m crazy for nightlife and dancing at indie-rock gigs. Does this mean we’re doomed as a couple?!”

Not necessarily.

Too many people immediately equate difference in a relationship with a clash. They think that every disparity between hobbies and passions must be indicative of an incompatible discord between personalities.

After all, if he’s read 50 classic novels this year and you only flick through a page-turning thriller once a year, does that mean you suddenly have no understanding of his world? Isn’t it obvious he ought to be with a girl who is as crazy about books as him?

Again, not necessarily.

In truth, we actually don’t mind if our partner doesn’t share our deepest obsessions. What we really want to see is:

(a) Our partner shares the value that the hobby embraces – I’m a big reader, but it’s not as if I need any woman I date to have absorbed as many pages a year as I do. If you’re the same, you shouldn’t care about it either. That would be stupid. But it is essential to find a partner with a hobby that embraces the same values, such as the enjoyment of art, a passion for learning and contemplative thought, all values that reading literature represents.

If you don’t share exact hobbies with your partner, that’s ok. You can both learn. But if as partners you can’t even appreciate the value of each other’s hobby, that’s a big sign of trouble.

(b) Our partner must be willing to indulge in at least 20% of that hobby – If your boyfriend is a comic-book nerd, and you can’t even muster up the enthusiasm to accompany him to Comic-Con once every year, or go watch the new Avengers with him and his buddies, you’re with the wrong person.

Although we don’t have to necessarily share interests with our partner, as a rule I think we have to be willing to indulge at least 20% of their most fervent obsessions (and we must enjoy that 20%, even if no more).

So if you’re crazy about gigs, he should at least be up for joining you at a music festival once every summer, or come along once a month to check out that new band at the local open-mic night you’re always hitting up. If you love travel, he should at least be willing to come along on some of your adventures, even if he doesn’t take every vacation with you.

It’s not that we need our partners to be crazy about the same things as us. There are many passions that only a comparatively few people on earth are as intensely interested in as we are. But part of a relationship is sharing our passions with someone else, even if just a meagre slice. If someone finds those passions childish, pointless, or boring, it denies one of the fundamental joys of a relationship.

Most women very quickly find out that I’m a film nut. If I’ve ever been on a date with a girl who has god-awful taste in movies, couldn’t care less about going to the cinema, and whose stomach would turn over at the idea of chatting about favourite directors, I get disappointed that they can’t share in even a taste of a passion that plays such a big role in my life.

Life is too short to have to hide what you love, or pretend that something you spend your time doing isn’t important to you. Find a partner who respects and enjoys what you do. Even if only 20% of the time.

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