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When Your Interests Don’t Align—How to Connect with Your Partner

You partner loves to go fishing on a Saturday morning, while you’d prefer to sleep in, read a book, or watch TV.

Sounds like an interest mismatch, doesn’t it?

However, just because your interests don’t align with each other, doesn’t mean that your relationship is doomed. Rather, when you think about it, this is an opportunity for growth and exploration.

Couples who have different interests can still have a successful and long-lasting relationship. The trick is to master how you both connect and to make those moments meaningful.

Here’s how.

Do Something Fun Together (and Often!)

Even if you each have your own hobbies and interests, it’s helpful that you both do fun things that both of you enjoy. Are there activities that you both like to do together?

The first thing that might come to your mind could be intimacy. It’s true that physical intimacy and sex are important to any romantic relationship. And they certainly can be fun. However, you need to think broader.

Think back to when you first started dating for inspiration. Perhaps visit that mini-golf course where you went out together for the first time. Sometimes a trip back through memory lane can be helpful with connecting again to your partner.

Learn Something New Together

Another idea is to learn something new together. Whether it’s a new sport (scuba diving anyone?), taking a class, visiting a museum, etc., there are plenty of options.

However, it does involve that you both be a little creative and willing to step out of your comfort zones. But that’s okay. It just means that this requires you to lean on each other for support and encouragement. And that’s not a bad thing.

Also, doing something completely different together allows you to have something in common while maintaining your own interests.

Be Aware of Each Other’s Desire to Connect

Dr. John Gottman, an expert in relationships, talks about how small, intimate moments of connection are important for a relationship. Yet, often we don’t realize that our partner is attempting to connect.

This is especially true when you are focused on something else entirely. You tune out everything, including your partner.

So, it’s helpful to recognize your partner’s signs for when they are reaching out to you, such as:

  • Asking for help
  • Putting a hand on your shoulder or back
  • Inviting you to play a game
  • Holding hands
  • Saying “I love you”

Go Beyond Interests and Connect Through Values

It’s great when couples have common interests. However, having common values that you both share and cherish is equally important.

Values are the attributes or traits that you find meaningful and essential in life. They are based on your lived experiences and help to shape your worldview and outlook on life.

Examples of values include:

  • Integrity
  • Trust
  • Loyalty
  • Faith
  • Love
  • Honesty
  • Learning

These are just a small sampling of potential values that each of you might hold dear. But it’s important that you understand your own values.

If you find yourself scratching your head to come up with a list of values for yourself, don’t worry. That doesn’t mean there’s something’s wrong with you. It might mean that you’ve never taken the opportunity to reflect on your values.

There are several ways to do this:

  • Make some time each day for personal introspection
  • Write down your thoughts in a journal
  • Ask for help from a spiritual advisor or leader

Also, you can ask your partner for help!

Jot down some ideas individually, then share them with each other. Take note of how your partner reacts to your thoughts. Also, they might surprise you with their own thoughts and observations of your values. This process of self-reflection is a great way to connect and forge a stronger relationship.

There are many things that couples can do to connect. Even if they have very different interests, there can still be ways to create shared interests or connect through their values.

If you have tried the aforementioned ideas and are still struggling to forge a stronger connection with your partner, please contact us.

 

 

Author

Joshua Howell, MS, LPC, NCC, AADC, ICAADC, SAP, SAE

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