Common interests: How much of a factor in compatibility?

Back in 1993, when I met Mr. Rilch, I think it would have been unlikely for me to respond to an ad that said “SWM into street hockey, Star Trek and general SF conventions, Civil War reenactments, Andrew Wyeth and Henry Rollins.” Nor would he have leapt upon one that said “SWF sings at coffeehouses, does needlepoint, practices magick, loves Warren Zevon, the Young Ones, and British films. Stoners preferred.” Really, the only thing we had in common at the time was Peanuts (the comic strip, of course), but we both would have balked at admitting that in an ad.

Based on what I’ve heard, and a lot of it, I’ve heard on this board, it sounds like personal ads are a crapshoot. Not that there’s much room for improvement, of course; even if you could sum up your personality profile, outlook on life, and so forth, most people aren’t honest anyway. Or they don’t really “know” themselves.

But that just leads to so much weight being put on common interests. And it’s entirely possible for two people to be into all the same stuff, but still be incompatible. So those of you who do the personals, or have in the past, how seriously do you take the “long walks on the beach” category?

Eh, I don’t know. I think most of those things you listed are superficial. Hence those types of things aren’t all that important for ME to have in common. Quite the contrary really, the contrast makes the other person a little more intresting.

I think what IS needed to have in common is real life perspectives such as; Do both parties have a mutual trust? Are both parties in this for the long run? Out look on children? ect…

I’m too cynical to get into the whole jealousy thing… but there you have it…

The main thing I stress in my own ads is “smart and funny,” and the main thing I look for in reading ads is someone who values smart and funny. Beyond that – eh, my interests are eclectic, and I’m happy to list them – but I’m not looking for someone with an identical list. I will look at his interests, but it’s more to see whether I see the point of them rather than that I share them – e.g., I’m going to have more in common with someone whose interests are chess and ren fairs than someone whose interests are NASCAR and NFL football, though none of those four things is on my own list, and I don’t necessarily expect to add any of them to my list in the future.

[full disclosure statement]The potential suitor I spent about five hours on IM with last night lists chess and NFL football among his interests.[/full disclosure statement]

This describes my relationship with my wife - we share values and morals, and a similar approach to raising our children and what it means to be in a relationship. Beyond that, we diverge pretty quickly in terms of interests. Together 14 years and counting…

My husband tends to get a bit bent out of shape when I answer personals so I don’t do it, but I always figured that if I wanted to spend my time with someone who is exactly like me, I’d spend time alone. It would be pretty much the same outcome, and I wouldn’t have to get dressed and leave the house and act like a civilized human being, so I could wander around in my undies scratching my ass and belching.

For a relationship to be interesting, you have to be different in some way. Differences in morals and values and basic priorities tend to make a relationship interesting in a bad way, so you’re pretty much left with differences in interests and hobbies.

I’m not looking for someone exactly like myself. I am such a pain that I know someone like me would be too annoying to stand. Having things in common is good so you can have something to talk about. Often however it’s just as much fun or more to talk about things you don’t have in common. You can teach each other things.

Smart and funny are the only real requirements I have. I also can’t get my mind around the idea of someone not enjoying reading, so if the person was not a reader, that probably would be a deal-breaker. One thing that seems to happen a lot with personals is that people aren’t really interested in what they claim to be interested in. Long walks on the beach being the number one cliche, I think. I like long walks, but not on the beach–I never put that in an ad, because I think it’s corny. :slight_smile:

I have had very little luck with personals. Had one kind of scary experience, and lots of no-sparks situations. I have officially given up on personals right now. I’m trying not looking for anyone and seeing how that works out.

I do the personals thing and don’t put much stock in the types of interests and hobbies someone lists, as much as just looking to make sure they have interests and hobbies. It weirds me out when adults seem to be looking for a date because they don’t have a life of their own. I’ve talked to more than a few oddballs who don’t seem to do anything, they don’t read, they don’t have friends, they don’t have hobbies…eeek.
Someone who liked everything I liked would be…well, I have girlfriends for that, y’know? I’m far more interested in a fella with his own life and habits that we could come together and share with one another than someone who appears to be waiting for me to provide everything. More fun to tease him about being a mindless jock, and be teased about being a nerd, than a relationship that’s all about being joined at the hip.

My husband and I found each other through a personals ad (mine).

It was '96, so putting an online personal out there was pretty self-selecting. Obviously, we both used computers, for example, and were using the internet pretty extensively at a time when a substantial chunk of the population wasn’t.

We’re eerily similar. We read different things, but we both read. We do different things on the computer but we both use it a ton. These things are pretty important because if one half wanted to go out every night and the other half wanted to stay home and read and surf the net, trouble would ensue!

I guess it really depends on the types of interests and hobbies that people don’t share. If one person’s interests include travel and the other hates to leave home, that would be pretty difficult to compromise on. My husband and I both like solitary activities that we can enjoy in the same room as the other person, which works out perfectly.

Also important to at least be willing to tolerate the other person’s interests, even if you don’t want to share them. When I met Mr. Rilch, we were both huge Pittsburgh Pirates fans ( :smack: forgot to mention that that’s another thing we had in common! Our first date was to Opening Day at Three Rivers!). One of the guys I went out with, briefly, before I met Mr. Rilch, hated baseball. Okay, he didn’t have to like it. But after going on a prolonged rant about how boring it was to watch on TV, and how overpaid the players were (and NBA players aren’t?!) and so on and so forth, he was actually surprised that I didn’t want to see him again. No, it wasn’t about baseball: it was about the way he acted as I was wrong to like baseball.

Actually, that was a common thread in many of my pre-Mr. Rilch dating experiences. Guys who couldn’t leave well enough alone that I had different interests and different viewpoints. They had to lecture, harangue, and try to convert me to their way of thinking and doing things. Like I had no right to my own opinion. Or I was a blank slate, just waiting to be filled with their rhetoric.

Aside: CCL, why would you answer personals if you’re married?

It was a joke. Not a very funny one, evidently.

I laughed.

See, now there’s a big advantage to having common interests: it gives you something to do on a first date (someplace to go, something to talk about).

If two people have zero overlap in their tastes in movies, music, things they like to do on the weekends, etc., either they won’t spend much of their free time together, or one of them will enjoy that free time much less than the other, neither of which is good for a relationship. (Especially if you want the best-friends-who-do-everything-together kind of relationship, not that you necessarily should.)

But I agree that other things, like mutual respect, shared values, and compatibility in how you want to live your life, are much more important than having all your interests, hobbies, or tastes in common.