Why It Is (And Isn't) Important To Share Common Interests In A Relationship, According To Men

Photo: Getty
couple sharing common interest in hiking

To the outside eye, my boyfriend and I don't really share any common interests. He is a super geeky guy with a passion for stuff like Dungeons and Dragons and going to conventions. I'm a sarcastic introvert and barely reformed cool kid who can't help but raise their eyebrows at a grown man dressed up as an elf in a public setting.

However, if you look a little bit deeper, we're both video game nerds, we love to cook and try out new things, we're passionate about music and movies, and we both come from families with a passion for storytelling.

Being in a relationship with my boyfriend is the first experience I have dating someone who shares so many of my interests. Sure, there are lots of things we each do on our own, but there are also many things we love doing together. And in my opinion, having so many mutual interests in common deepens our intimacy in truly meaningful way.

Are common interests important in relationships?

While it seems pretty clear to me that the answer is that yes, common interests are very important in relationships, I was curious to see what men think about the subject. I turned to the AskMen subreddit, where one redditor asked that specific question. And as is usually the case when I pay a visit to Reddit, I was not disappointed.

RELATED: These 21 Pieces Of Reddit Relationship Advice Will Transform Your Love Life

While the men who responded didn't all agree with one another, they had plenty of interesting things to say.

Here are some statements that might just change the way you think about the importance of sharing common interests, according to 15 men on Reddit.

1. Common interests are nice, but appreciating each other's interests is even better.

"It depends: Having shared interests a lot of the time makes it easier to have common ground and start to have passionate conversation. But shared interests are not really important. What is important is that you appreciate each other's interests. Shared interests can be a problem, too, because you feel you are competing with each other. So I don't ever use it as a criteria."

2. Interests change with age anyway, so having some in common isn't always necessary.

"Funny thing, when I was younger I wanted a woman that did everything I do. Now I want a woman that doesn't really do anything I do, but which we can appreciate each other's mutual interests in the things we do engage in. If we really have a real passion in common, that's great, but by far it isn't necessary. The matching of 'whys' behind passions and hobbies is a lot more important. Her understanding you and you understanding her. You can have a great experience with someone getting engaged about a subject even if the other person doesn't know the faintest thing or even is that hyped about it."

3. Sharing common interests is what keeps a relationship going.

"Very important. Physical attraction will only last so long. Eventually, you’re going to have to speak to one another."

4. Sharing common interests isn't important, but being interested in your partner is.

"Shared interests are unimportant, but being able and ready to take interest in each other's interests enough to make each other feel valued is important."

5. It's fine if you don't share common interests as long as you're able to compromise.

"Having different interests is fine, the problems come when one or both sides aren’t willing to compromise. Let’s say you like football and she likes basketball. The right thing to do is both of you suck it up for the other. You try to enjoy basketball because it’s something she likes, and she tries to enjoy football because it’s something you like. If you put in the effort for her basketball and she can’t put in the effort for your football ,do you really want to be with her?

"If she can’t even put her wants and needs aside for one thing you like, that’s pretty selfish. One of the fun parts of a relationship is introducing your partner to new stuff and having them introduce new activities and interests to you. I personally couldn’t be in a relationship with someone that had no regard for my interests and had the inability to communicate their feelings."

RELATED: 27 Men Describe The #1 Thing A Woman Did That Made Them Fall Deeply In Love

6. Being interested in all of the same things can actually be exhausting.

"There are plenty of things my partner is not interested in and won't spend her free time doing. I'm fine doing these things on my own or with friends. Relationships where you share everything and can't go out to do your own thing would be too exhausting for me."

7. Sharing too many common interests can be overwhelming, but you have to share at least a few.

"There still needs to be balance between doing your own thing and sharing interests. If you have zero shared interests and nobody is willing to do anything the other person likes, what’s the point of the relationship? I’m not saying you have to bore each other to death with something they don’t like or do every activity together, but having nothing in common at all isn’t exactly the recipe for a good relationship."

8. You don't have to be interested in all the of the same thing, but you should at least be open-minded.

"You don’t have to like the same things but you do have to be willing to do things together. When one person controls the activities in a relationship it isn’t good."

9. Common interests can you teach you a lot about who the other person is.

"Pretty far down in the list. It certainly helps if you or your partner have a couple of core-interests that you share, but more important is that you share most top-level values. But overall it's really not important to have shared interests. What's more important is that you can show genuine interest in your partner's interests and understand why he/she likes certain things."

10. Sharing core values is far more important than sharing common interests.

"It’s important to have things you like to do together, but you don’t have to like all the same things. Much more important is sharing similar values."

RELATED: Couples Who Share These 8 Core Values Have The Happiest, Healthiest Relationships

11. The most important part of sharing common interests is being able to socialize with other people as a couple.

"As someone who is married to a woman who definitely doesn't share all my interests, it's honestly not as important as I once thought it was. The main thing is that she shouldn't be critical of your hobbies, and vice versa with you. I play video games, she doesn't, and she completely does not care. Likewise, she loves cheeseball romantic comedies, and I don't, but I don't begrudge her for watching them. That being said, I think you should have enough in common that you can do at least some things together, and socialize with others doing other hobbies."

12. Sharing common interests makes it easier to recognize the other person as a good match.

"It can work if you both are open to hearing about other people's experiences and interests, but people get bored and whatever sustained the momentum dies out. I think it's more important for values to align and for personalities to match. Having things you both like to do in common makes finding out if you're a good match much easier."

13. Sharing common interests isn't as important as encouraging each other to enjoy their own.

"My wife and I don't really share a common interest. There are some TV shows and movies we both like, but our tastes in that regard tend to be pretty different ... It isn't a problem for us. We respect each other's need to enjoy the things we like, don't put down each other's interests, and have no problem with the time we spend on our own hobbies and interests. We talk about the things we like and do, and encourage each other."

14. Sharing common interests is key to satisfying companionship.

"I've seen some variation of 'I'm looking for someone to do X with' or 'Want a partner for X' in many online dating profiles, and I think that's a good move. Arts and culture is a big thing for me. I like to see a lot of art exhibits, talk about books I read and go to shows, and I can't imagine dating someone who didn't enjoy these things. Defining what you are looking for in terms of concrete activities seems like an obviously good move."

15. Not sharing common interests makes getting over your eventual breakup easier (whomp whomp).

"I prefer not to have shared interests, or at least not too many. Allows me to spend more time alone and makes me more prepared for when we break up."

RELATED: 10 Things Every Great Relationship Has At All Times

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.