Two Sense: Can Opposites Really Build a Life Together?


How important is it for a couple to share similar interests and activities? My new boyfriend loves to ski, camp, and hike. I love to read, cook, and ballroom dance. I've fallen hard for him, and I think he has for me too. At first, we frankly spent so much time in bed that the differences weren't noticeable. But now that "real life" is settling in, he wants to spend weekends in Tahoe and I want to stay in SF. He is talking about all the camping he wants to do this summer and I'm planning cultural trips to Montreal and Oaxaca. I don't begrudge him his separate interests, and I'm fine with time away from each other, but can two opposites really build a life together, or am I being impractical and foolhardy?

He Said: Woody Allen once said that the advantage of being gay is that you double your wardrobe. The same might be said of interests in any relationship. In my admittedly anecdotal survey of friends, the best relationships tend to be based on two factors: Complementary interests and temperaments. But please note that I said complementary, and not common. The key is to have passions that you can share with each and learn from. If one person loves football, and the other baseball, that might in the end be a better fit than, say, two baseball lovers. It sounds as though you both have plenty of great passions but you are struggling with the temperament to enjoy each other’s. I suggest challenging yourself to enjoy his idea of a great weekend trip to Tahoe. My bet is he'll return the favor next time you want to spend a cozy weekend at home.

She Said: I don’t think your differences are necessarily insurmountable, especially since you’ve already fallen for each other. I jokingly call myself an indoor enthusiast—yoga, food, indie movies, the whole drill—and most men I’ve met are just the opposite, especially California-bred men. The trick is to find a balance between shared activities you both love, shared activities one of you is learning via the other, and time apart. Even the happiest nesters like to ski or hike once in a while. Which of his activities are you most willing to try? Which of yours would excite him most (perhaps ballroom dancing)? Why not lug your books up to Tahoe and play cook for the weekend while he and his pals hit the slopes? As for vacations, the best trips involve both culture and the outdoors. It shouldn’t be hard to find a beautiful hike near Oaxaca. Neither of you have to change your basic natures. You just have to accept each other, exhibit a little flexibility in trying new things, and accept that there will be plenty of times when you want to snuggle up with a book while he heads out on the trail.

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