It is literally impossible for two people to be exactly the same. So why should you expect your partner to be the same as you? You probably don’t, which is good. But you probably expect at least some similarities, otherwise you wouldn’t be in a relationship with them. Having shared visions and common ground are good, but your relationship can grow stronger if you work on embracing the differences in your relationship.
On the other side of the coin, you can read about relationship compatibility here.
Evan and I are creepily similar in some ways, but have remarkably different personalities. We’ll say the same thing at the same time and finish each other’s sentences like annoying couples. If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll probably see posts where we accidentally match outfits. We’ll also have debates over various topics we don’t agree on. That’s normal. If you and your partner agree on absolutely everything, then one of you is probably not telling the truth about their opinion or you haven’t known each other long enough to find issues on which you disagree. So what can you do to work on embracing differences and grow together?
Sidenote: We are not relationship experts, therapists, or anything like that. So, if you find out years down the road we’ve gotten divorced, feel free to disregard any suggestions we have on making relationships work. Hope that won’t be the case, but no one ever expects it, do they?
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Try new activities together. If your significant other is into outdoorsey things, but you would rather sit at home and read books, do a bit of both. Add variety to your life by engaging in fun things together. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy something you expect to dislike.
We have different hobbies an interests, as most of you probably do too. One of the ways we work on embracing differences, even if it’s not consciously, is by doing a lot of different things together. Evan is an extrovert and I’m an introvert. This has led to me talking with more people than I would if I wasn’t with him. It also means that we spend plenty of time just hanging out at home together rather than being out, because I’m comfortable with that (and Covid doesn’t really allow us to go out). You can read more about this dynamic in our post on the introvert/extrovert relationship. He’s also sat through the Hamilton film despite having no interest in it. I’ve learned way more about the stock market than I will ever need to know. We’ve expanded our horizons and tried new things because of each other. Embracing differences may not come easily, but just doing different activities than usual is one of the easier ways to work on it.
Talk It Out and Listen
You will have disagreements, but there isn’t a reason why that should be inherently negative. Even when we’re super peeved at each other, once we calm down we’ll have a conversation about whatever the issue is. Generally we don’t really get to the point of arguing, but more just discussing our sides. For instance, we don’t see eye to eye on a lot of political perspectives. We have the same underlying values, but that doesn’t mean we always agree on what should be done politically.
So, we just discuss why we believe some things and what supports those beliefs. If I can’t say why I believe something, then it’s not worth a debate until I can figure that out. So, there are times when one of us will say “I don’t know enough about this topic” and then we’ll either research and figure out why we have that belief without evidence, or we’ll just listen to the other person’s belief and come back to the subject later with a better understanding. Rather than trying to convince each other, we focus more on embracing the differences and learning about the issue from another perspective. Sometimes we may switch our opinions to the other person’s, but not always.
Agree to Disagree
As addressed in the previous paragraph, there are some things we don’t agree on. As long as they’re not anything major, we just accept that we don’t share the same opinion on the subject. you do have to be cautious with this though. If you’re arguing the same things over and over and clearly your partner isn’t listening, then you should evaluate that rather than just letting it go. It’s hard to grow if you’re butting heads on the same thing frequently.
Also, if you have disagreements on things fundamental to your relationship, that should be a red flag. If your goal is happily ever after and your significant other’s is hookups in their spare time, then uh you should also evaluate that. In the dating app age, that kind of situation isn’t uncommon. Along with disagreeing on your relationship, if you’re in favor of the death penalty, pro-life, and anti-gay marriage, but your partner has the opposite view on all those, that’s going to cause some serious disagreements and you can’t really agree to disagree on those subjects.
Don’t Force Change
Branching off a little bit from the last section, if you have different beliefs, values, goals, etc., you shouldn’t be trying to force the other person to have the exact same ones as you. In your relationship, you can grow together, but that growth doesn’t come from pushing for growth and change. Yes, you can focus on improving your relationship, but that has to be mutual and somewhat organic. If one of you is telling the other to mature, but they’re not listening or trying, then that’s a non-starter. You can’t make someone else change.
Early on we discussed what we wanted in life. It was just a casual conversation, but we found out one of us didn’t want kids or to ever get married, but the other one wanted those things in life. We were still “riding buddies” then, so we didn’t think it would really matter since we weren’t trying to be in a serious relationship. More on the biker side of our relationship here. Now we’re both open to possibly having kids later on or not (Let’s hope Evan’s mom never sees this because she wants grandkids). We also have a wedding budget, so we’re on the same page on the marriage subject. Neither of us tried to change the other’s mind on marriage and kids. We just ended up where we are through talking and thinking about those subjects.
The goal of arguments and discussing differences in your relationship should not be to “win”. If you win an argument with your partner, then where does that get you? Sure, you might have been right, but if your goal is to be right rather than to discuss both sides and move forward, then there’s no growth from that. Sometimes you have to compromise instead of always trying to win or be right.
This is more for differences in opinion or in arguments rather than personality or interest differences. You shouldn’t be compromising yourself or too much of what you like because that can lead to resentment. That’s part of why it’s important to work on embracing differences. You don’t want to mold yourself to fit exactly what the other person wants. Evan loves cars and wants to work on them in the future. I am not a big car person and I don’t pretend to be. I’m sure I’ll learn more about them and help him when he starts working on one, but I’m not going to tell him I absolutely love cars or anything like that.
You and your partner are different people. Don’t try to be the same. Love what makes you different in addition to what brings you together. Focus on embracing differences and growing.