Monday, March 31, 2014

No clones wanted

Increasingly, I think online dating sites have gotten it all wrong.

See, most of them focus on helping you find someone with common interests. But we have two issues here:

  1. Most people have pretty generic interests (reading, watching movies, travelling) so it doesn't really help in selecting someone from a pool; and
  3. Not only is it possible for me to cultivate an interest in something my partner really likes to do, but people's interests also change over time. I may enjoy travelling now, for example, but after some years I may tire of it and try pottery, instead!

I used to think that when I'm looking for a partner, one of the most crucial criteria should be common interests. Now I no longer think so. Mainly because I realise that while I may not have any fixed sort of exercise regime now, if my partner were into fitness, I would be happy to work out alongside him. People can change and adapt. It doesn't all need to be in place from the get-go.

Plus the fact that while I do think it's important to share some commonalities with a partner, I think it's healthy to have your own interests and do your own thing apart from him, too. I don't think ALL our interests need to be similar. Perhaps one or two major ones should be, so that we would be able to do some activities together (and enjoy doing them together). But by and large, I'm not too worried about us possibly liking different things.

Dating coach Evan Marc Katz confirmed this line of thought for me in this blog post, where he said we should look for a complement, not a clone:

    This may not come naturally to you, especially if you’re a smart, strong, successful woman who thinks that you “deserve” a man who is smarter, stronger, and more successful than you are.
    Essentially, you’re trying to date yourself, with a penis.
    That kind of thinking is a huge blind spot for many women.
    If you’re out working 60 hours a week, you don’t need a guy who does the same. You might need a guy who is your complement, a supporter, a nurturer, your biggest fan who is your strength when the going gets tough. He makes you laugh. He listens to you. He gets you.

He further adds that "Your biggest problem is not who you are inside. It’s your picker," because the man you're looking for or trying to find is probably not the right one for you. "When you choose someone with a complementary energy, the puzzle pieces just fit and the whole thing becomes easy."

By and large, I think that personality matters more than activities, hobbies and interests. When I try to mesh my life with a guy's, it's our personalities which will determine how we truly get along, not our common interests. And even with personality, I'm going to need someone who complements me. As this other writer suggests, you need someone who is able to sort of balance you out a bit (just as you'll balance him) and provide some sort of challenge and excitement just by being different and encouraging you to try things you might never otherwise have thought of doing.

So I really do think all the dating websites have gotten it wrong. Compatibility is not about sameness or similarities. It's not about finding someone who is your mirror, or your clone. It's about finding someone who complements you. Now for the million-dollar question: how to go about finding someone like that?

1 comment:

Caedmon said...

I'm looking for shared values (not 100% match, but close on the important ones and some general agreement on which are important), shared interests (again, not 100%, but how are we going to get to know each other if we don't share any interests?), and chemistry.

Some could read "complementary" as someone completely opposite to me. That wouldn't be any more fun than a clone. There has to be a mix of places we really come together and places of synergistic difference. Getting that mix right is where chemistry is formed. The differences stimulate excitement and risk. The similarities provide connection and security. We need both.