People in relationship embracing

Does compatibility mean having the same interests? 8 women tell us how important it is to like the same things as your partner

When it comes to looking for a partner, we tend to search for someone who shares similar values, goals and hobbies. But are common interests really that important for a happy, harmonious relationship? We asked eight women to share their thoughts.  

January is a popular month for dating. For many, the new year is a fresh opportunity to put themselves out there, meet new people and perhaps even find love.

To help people meet their ideal match, Tinder is launching a new feature in January which allows members to select from a series of ‘2022 Goals’ within the Explore page. The idea is that they’ll be able to navigate matches by goals, ambitions and hobbies.

“As we know that a shared experience increases your matchability, singletons will seek out someone who shares their own ambitions this Dating Sunday. Then the good goals can roll all year long,” Laura Wilkinson-Rea, UK director of communications, says. 

This got me thinking, how important is it for you and your partner to have lots in common?

As long as you share the same core values and beliefs, you don’t need to have absolutely everything in common, says dating strategy coach Ellen Nguyen.

“Research shows that people tend to like and be attracted to people who share similar social habits, socio-economic status, intelligence, and attitudes on important issues, such as religious beliefs or politics,” she explains.

According to Nguyen, political attitudes, career goals and travel desires are also important to many of us. “It’s not surprising as these factors play a big role in determining a person’s values, lifestyle, worldviews and how they spend their time.”

“That said, a couple can work around the things that are a bit more malleable and they find less important personally,” Nguyen continues. Think food preference and music taste. Meanwhile contrasting life values and religious beliefs are more fundamental, and should be deal-breakers. 

Personally, I know I couldn’t be with anyone who didn’t share my political views, and I guess it’s important to discuss things like marriage and babies but other than that, I don’t think the differences matter so much. 

But does everyone feel that way? Here, eight women share their thoughts on what you do and don’t need to have in common with your SO. 

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Opposites don’t always attract

“I know people always say opposites attract but I don’t get that at all. I don’t think me and my boyfriend would work unless we were so similar. We’re both quite ambitious and we want the same things from life. From pretty early on in our relationship, we had discussed things like buying a house, having children and where we wanted to live in the future.

Even with smaller stuff like keeping the flat tidy, getting to bed early and not drinking much alcohol, we have the same habits and that’s really important to me. I just don’t see myself being in a relationship with someone who was the polar opposite.”

Myra, 25

You can’t compromise on values

My husband and I share values, ethics and morals as I believe they’re more important than having things in common. You can be introduced to new stuff and vice versa but if there is a fundamental difference in values, morals and ethics, it’s far harder to compromise when it’s something that’s been instilled into you as a child.”

Oriona, 44

Politics isn’t everything

“People are always shocked when I tell them but my partner and I, who are from very different backgrounds, don’t share the same political views. I know for many people this would be a deal-breaker but we’ve managed to make it work. Politics is important but it’s not something we talk about all the time. I’ll admit we do argue about politics and current affairs a fair bit, we’re always tolerant of each other and we’re able to debate in a respectful way. Just like many friends don’t share political views, I don’t think you and your spouse need to either. There’s more to life.”

Georgina, 32

Sharing the same social circle is key

“I met my fiancé at university almost 10 years ago and we have been together ever since. For me, one of the most important things is that we share friends. We have a close-knit circle who we still meet up with regularly and I think if we weren’t in the same friendship circle, our relationship wouldn’t have lasted. I think it’s weird when couples have completely separate friends and don’t socialise together. That would be a big no-no for me.”

Kimi, 28

Talk about future plans

“Sadly, my boyfriend and I broke up recently because we didn’t share a pretty big thing in common. Children. In our 20s, we never discussed whether we wanted them or not but in my early 30s, I realised I did want children and I didn’t have forever to start trying. I sat him down to tell him I want to start a family but he told me he didn’t want kids and would never change his mind. For a year or so, I pretended I was happy with that but this year, I decided I couldn’t stay with him. It was really sad because we loved each other so much but I wasn’t willing to negotiate. I would really recommend discussing this sort of stuff early on in relationships. I wish we had had the chat sooner.” 

Catriona, 34

Maintain a level of independence 

“Me and my partner have completely different hobbies. I’m quite active so I’ll spend evenings playing netball or at the gym, and at the weekends, I’m often hiking or running with my friends while my boyfriend stays at home and does his own thing. I love that we have separate passions and I’d find it quite stifling if we were always together doing everything. I think it’s healthy for couples to have their own interests and to still be their own people outside of the relationship.” 

Freya, 30

How much should you have in common with your partner?
For many, shared political attitudes, career goals and travel desires are crucial.

Introverts and extroverts match 

“I’ve recently learnt that you don’t need to have the same personality type as your significant other. I’m a massive introvert and I always thought I would have to go out with someone shy and introverted like me but my current boyfriend is the biggest social butterfly. He loves going out and is the loudest person in the room always. When people meet us, I think they find it weird that he’s so loud and I’m so quiet but we work so well together. He encourages me to get out and enjoy myself and I’d say I calm him down and ground him. Although sometimes we do have to compromise, on the whole, we balance each other out.” 

Kelsey, 22

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Some things are non-negotiable 

“This might sound ridiculous to some people but I categorically could not have a relationship with someone who didn’t like animals. I have two cats and I’ll probably get more in the future, and if a potential partner told me they didn’t like animals or they didn’t bond with my cats, I’d show them the door, even if I liked them a lot.” 

Esther, 39

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