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Dating Maze #313: Similarity Quotient
Dating Advice 313

Dating Maze #313: Similarity Quotient

Does a married couple need to share the same tastes and interests?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am relatively new to dating, and have been out with some really great, quality guys. I went out with most of them several times, and we enjoyed each other's company, shared common interests and goals, and were attracted to each other.

A few of the more promising courtships ended with the guy saying, "We can't get married because we're too similar.” I am not the only one among my friends who has heard an excuse like this. Is it a valid reason to break up because two personalities are too similar?

I always thought it was good to come from similar backgrounds and share common interests. Am I wrong?


Dear Renata,

You're right – “We can't get married because we're too similar" is an excuse that's become popular because it seems to be a "safe" way to end things when someone either doesn't know or is afraid to articulate the real reason for not wanting to continue.

There are many legitimate reasons why a man – who seems to be getting along with the woman he's dating – feels it's time to stop. Perhaps he isn't attracted to her, even though he's taken the time to see if attraction develops. He may feel as though she is someone he could be friends with, but the "chemistry" that will lead to a deep emotional attachment isn't present. Or, he may realize that he doesn't feel ready to get married.

Whatever the reason, it's best to say, "I just don't feel we're right for each other," or "It was very nice to go out with you, but I feel that long-term this isn't going in the right direction."

But "We're too similar" is not a good reason. A man and woman need a certain amount of similarities to form the foundation of a healthy, enduring relationship. There should be similarities in their value systems, world views, goals and expectations. When these are not compatible, over the long-term couples usually find themselves on a collision course.

Certain commonalities make it much more likely for two people to have this compatibility – like coming from similar socio-economic backgrounds and/or cultures. Couples from dissimilar backgrounds may find themselves working harder to find common ground. Further, sharing the same religion and degree of religious commitment can be a critical factor in the longevity of a relationship and the stability of a marriage.

Minimally, core values need to be a good fit.

Some people mistakenly believe that they need to have the same interests, tastes, leisure activities, or even personality traits. While it's true that having several of these in common does make it easier to understand and relate to each other, a relationship can succeed even when these are very different. Of course, the core values need to be a good fit, and each of them needs to appreciate and respect the ways in which they are different.

There are many formulas for making these differences "work.” A husband and wife may pursue completely different hobbies, but enjoy the time they share with family or friends. Another couple may take turns choosing the vacation or leisure activity they will do together, while other spouses sometimes go on different vacations or enjoy a weekly night out with their respective friends. Many couples find themselves acquiring a taste for each other’s favorite music, ethnic food, or sports activity. Successful married couples learn how to find a workable balance between their individual interests and tastes, and the aspects of their lives that they share.

In the same vein, another way a relationship succeeds is when the man and woman learn how to balance the similarities and differences in their personalities and character traits. The expression "opposites attract" holds true to some extent – although two people who are very dissimilar will have a hard time adjusting to each other and may find themselves locked in constant conflict.

But some amount of difference is a good thing, such as when couples find that they learn from each other's character traits or habits. For example, one may be a bit more easy-going and the other more strict; in this case, one can teach the other to take things more easily, while the other can role model a healthy sense of discipline. The best situation is where they report that "we compliment each other," or say, "He/she makes me want to be a better person."

So while a couple benefits from having certain similarities, at the same time a certain amount of difference can enhance a relationship.

In general, it sounds like your dating habits are healthy ones. Most of the men you've dated seem to have the qualities you're looking for, and you get along with them. This indicates that you are choosing your dates wisely, with men who are close to what you're looking for. And because your dating experiences have largely been positive, which is important for keeping your energy and sparkle going into future dating situations.

We wish you success in navigating the dating maze.

Rosie & Sherry

July 24, 2010

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Anonymous, September 20, 2010 2:53 PM


Your children have no respect for you because they have seen you put up with being abused for 27 yrs. They don't want to become like you and be treated by a spouse like you have allowed yourself to be treated. It's never to late to do the right thing. It's never to late to correct a wrong.

(5) Ellen, August 4, 2010 6:10 PM

Another thought

I might also question how things got to the point of these men having to say, "We can't get married..." That refusal seems well ahead of the stage of relationship the young woman is talking about. Is it possible that she has attempted to move things along a bit too quickly? Or that she has not recognized the "he's just not that into you" signs sufficiently to bow out gracefully? I think it's important for young women to protect themselves emotionally so that they are ready for and optimistic about the next possibility.

(4) Anonymous, July 29, 2010 3:28 PM

too #3

very difficult situation. I'm not a pro but would advise you to seriously consider leaving. too late now but you did not know what would have happened if you left earlier. just as you dont know what the future holds if you leave now or stay and endure the situation. the children might surprise you. good luck

(3) Anonymous, July 28, 2010 4:15 AM


I have been very unhappily married for 27 years. I am an American male who married an Israeli Sephardic female. The only reason why I remained in the marriage is because I didn't want to embarrass myself because my family & friends warned me not to marry outside of my culture. Within two weeks after our wedding, my wife showed her true colors. She is extremely difficult to live with, is as tough as nails & even curses. Unfortunately, she raised our children to resent me which causes me much suffering. My children have absolutely no respect for me. Unfortunately, we were married six weeks after we met due to some pressure from her sister who introduced us. I met her sister working in the same place of employment in Israel & she introduced us. Sometimes, I want to pack my bags & leave because at this point in time, I do not care about embarrassment. The only thing holding me back is that I do not want to lose everything meaning future generations such as being close to my future grandchildren G-d willing. If I leave, my children would resent me even more. My wife and I have absoulutely nothing in common. We are totally different people with totaly different interests and a different outlook on life. We have not had any intimate relations in several years now because I am not attracted to her anymore after so many years of emotional abuse. She also bites during intimacy which turns me off completely. I need some good advice from readers who may be professionals in this field and can give me some good advice what to do. We have gone for professional help in the past, but it did not help because she cries making everyone feel sorry for her. I am also writing this as a warning to others not to be so hasty in getting married until it is certain that the two are compatible with each other.

(2) Abe, July 28, 2010 3:59 AM

You should compliment and complement each other

You complement each other when you supply what the other is lacking. You tell each other they're good by giving them a compliment.

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