Love Lessons

It’s a common situation. You love shopping, cooking and weekend nights on the town. He loves sports, cars and Saturday night six packs. You fear that you’re too different to make things work. That despite firecracker chemistry, fierce dedication and good intentions, there’s no way you can be with someone who isn’t bowled over by your homemade risotto – or at least can’t express it fervently, analyzing every flavor.

Or, your partner prefers weekends in house or rising early Saturdays to do something athletic. That can’t possibly be right for a social butterfly who likes to hit the newest, hottest places in town and party all night long, right?

Do different interests, likes or dislikes mean you’re destined to go the way of relationship road-kill? Thankfully, that answer is no. However, faced with a situation where opposites have attracted, you may need to re-shape your relationship requisites and learn at least two vital lessons for love.

All things to all people – all fantasy
No single person can be all things to another. Yet, for some reason at some point or another, most of us expect our mates to share all of our interests, be our partners in everything and want the same things we do, in turn completing us – rather than complementing us. This is probably thanks (in part) to all the Meg Ryan movies we’ve watched over the years, or the fairy tales we’ve read wherein the heroine is rendered problem-free and thoroughly complete by the simple fact that she meets her prince. Yet the simple truth is that we complete ourselves. If we were to find ourselves involved with someone whose interests merely mirrored our own, we’d probably be quite bored. After all, unless you’re Narcissus, you can only stare at yourself in the mirror for so long.

Open your mind
The more you can expand your horizons and open yourself up to at least experiencing your partner’s interests, the better off you’ll be. Of course, it takes two to tango, and your beloved will have to take an interest in your interests, as well. In this process everything isn’t necessarily going to go smoothly. You may find that you simply don’t enjoy each other’s favorite things, but more likely, you’ll uncover at least a few things about yourself you didn’t know before!

Too much togetherness
Either way, the simple truth is that despite popular romantic convention, couples need not spend all their time together. In fact, doing so can be detrimental to a relationship’s success. It takes two complete individuals to create one happy couple, and fostering co-dependency is very different from diversifying, which is more akin to compromise than sacrifice. It’s a broadening of each other’s horizons coupled with an underlying appreciation for difference (and time apart) that will allow your relationship to grow and be healthy.

Friends matter
Diversification dictates that neither you nor your partner sacrifices your unshared interests, however it does not say that you shouldn’t be able to share those interests with someone else! This is where knowing the importance of utilizing your resources comes into play. In this case, the resources in question are your friends. Oftentimes when we get romantically involved, our friendships suffer. This is not uncommon, but it is forgivable and can be rectified. If you’ve gone off the map with your buddies in favor of romance, pick up the phone and get back into the loop!

While your lover may not dig the idea of a Saturday mall jaunt, at least one of your trusted friends most likely will. Likewise, if you’re looking for a workout partner, someone to swap recipes with or just about anything else you’d been expecting your romantic partner to do, you’ve probably got that base covered with someone you know, so stop waiting for them to join in and get going! On the other hand, even if you and your mate have everything in common and love those things about each other that you don’t share, you should still keep in touch with your friends and reserve time for them.

That said, just like you shouldn’t expect your mate to do everything with you, understand that different people serve different functions in our lives. While your cousin may be your favorite person to trade celebrity gossip with on the treadmill, she may not be into your philosophical discussions at Thursday night Happy Hour. That’s where your college roommate is happy to oblige. Enjoying different things with different people not only broadens your perspective, but it rounds out your existence! Variety is the spice of life and a great group of friends is as priceless as a great lover.

While it can be tough to make time for everyone, knowing who to turn to in what situation will do a lot to enhance your life, and believe it or not, keep your relationship going strong for the long haul. As long as both you and your mate are fine with your different interests and accept that you will need time apart to partake in the activities you love, there’s nothing saying your relationship can’t work.

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