When I was a kid, I looked for people who had the same interests. As a teenager, a common questions was: “What music do you like?” That was the measure of whether I might like the person.
As I got older (ok, a lot older), I noticed something: the people I really connected with we’re always just like me. In fact, I found that differences somehow intrigued and connected us.
In intimate relationships especially, commonality was an important thing in my mind. But I was often attracted to women who weren’t completely like me. And, since relationships as I grew up became my favorite place to be scared to shit, I’d say stuff like “Oh boy, this is not a fit.” And I’d figure out a way to destroy it or run.
It was only after marrying my wife that I really started to learn about this thing called compatibility. She and I are very different in many ways. She’s a very feminine girl, a warrior girl, but very much a girl. She tends to see difference, where I tend to see commonality. We like very different things. And when I felt like running, I’d focus on these differences and try to convince myself why this isn’t gonna work out.
But I’d stay. And we’d find a way to communicate. And I’d find this: nearly all of those moments were largely about me feeling hurt, scared or blind to the fact that what I was focusing on was part of me! My belief was “This can’t work—because we’re different.” And now it’s clear it’s largely my fear that makes me wanna run (and blame the other person).
So I’ve learned about compatibility. Which is veeery different from commonality. In fact, learning the term “complimentary opposites” has created for me a new appreciation over the years for many people, including my wife. The differences between my wife and I are not always easy. But they’ve always been what I need!
One of the things I’ve found later in life is something I call a “hobby.” To me, a hobby is something I really enjoy and also wanna be good at. So I engage it on a pretty regular basis, even though I really feel like sitting on my ass. As opposed to play, which comes and goes and isn’t anything I try to learn or be good at and is usually mindless enjoyment.
Hobbies have over the years been such a grounding thing for me. And they deepen my ability to enjoy myself and do without relationships I tend to count on. Since I’ve discovered no one can always be there whenever I want, hobbies work for me. They’re fun and a terrific distraction from things that are good to be distracted from.