Relationships

What’s Your Venn Diagram Overlap?

Every night I like to scroll through Instagram, looking for anything I missed that day and the best Tik Tok compilations. One night on the couch, laughing my head off, I looked over at my boyfriend Steven and asked what he was reading about…

Like a man on a search for clues, he answered, “I’m reading about the origins of Greek democracy.” And that in a nutshell are the two strikingly different personalities in our relationship, and somehow it works really well. This conversation reminded me of a scene from The Mindy Project that I watched a few nights ago:

Jason: So what did you think of the movie?

Mindy: I thought it was very real…I thought the people in it looked like people who would be in line behind me at the bank. I’m not sure why we paid money to see it…

Jason: Ok because I thought it was refreshing to see real people fall in love in a movie.

Mindy: I have not yet tired of seeing hot people fall in love in a movie.

Relatable AF.

When we first met I was drawn to Steven’s warmth, that he was a writer, and that he loved art as much as I do. That said, our differences abound. Steven loves war documentaries, going to bed early, avant garde Punk, and wearing flannel year-round, no matter how hot it is. I hate being hot more than anything, my music is more on the chill side, and I always stay up as late as I possibly can. But in the Venn Diagram of our relationship there is some major overlap — neither of us can resist singing along to Otis Redding, we love the same secret pizza place, and it turns out I don’t mind sweating so much if I’m taking a long walk with him on a hot summer night.

Here are some more things we both love with all our hearts:
— Motown
— sleeping in
Broad City
— true crime
— strong coffee
— museums
— Conan O’Brien
— dramatically singing to the cat

I used to hold a somewhat short-sighted assumption that couples should have nearly everything in common to be compatible. Obviously that’s almost never true, and in fact that’s what makes relationships so much richer. The fact that Steven is so different from me makes me appreciate him so much more than if he was just an extension of my own interests and perspectives.

This past weekend, I was at a yard sale and came across a vintage bike that I couldn’t pass up buying. Steven, who bikes 20 miles a day, had been anxiously waiting for me to get a bike so we could ride together. “Add that to the overlap!” he texted back when I told him. I look forward to adding a lot more.

What’s the Venn Diagram overlap with your partner? Is it big or small? I’d love to hear!

P.S. Five words that changed my relationship and are you similar, or opposites?

(Photo of the Obamas.)

  1. Laura says...

    In high school, I had an English teacher that assigned us two very different poems, and asked us to find what they had in common. We came up with a list of similarities, and thinking there would be some significant literary confluence that we weren’t seeing (our list included things like, they both mentioned buttons), were then told that we could find similarities wherever we were looking for it. Here, in this context, and reading the comments, it strikes me that the point is whether we’re looking for things that bring us together or things that divide us. In my marriage, there have been periods of both. It seems to me, that in a long partnership, the question is, to a pretty significant degree, the story you’re telling yourself about what the truth that’s in front of you.

    • Abby says...

      Wow, how you put that into words, Laura!
      I had a similar realisation when I read Alain de Botton’s Essays in Love. We share everything and nothing at the same time on earth – it just depends on how we look at it.

  2. Isabelle says...

    Ah! Amazing thought provoking question!

    Overlap:
    – Shared belief in the importance of experiences, specifically avoiding falling into the trap of doing what is expected of us or what is being modelled by our friends and family, and trying to tune into more of what is true and right for US (individually and together)
    – Shared stance on religion (i.e. not very committed to it but respect our family members who feel differently, and have found a balance of connecting with them on holidays while setting boundaries that are true for us)
    – Shared perspective on kids – we both went back and forth on it for a very long time, and now, recently, have both come to feel we’d like children and that we are both more or less ready for them
    – Shared overall perspective on finances – that we value experiences > possessions, have little interest in fancy cars or name brand etc., and ultimately want to save versus spend
    – Shared love of each other, we both feel that seeing the other person happy is the ultimate happiness for ourselves, which tends to work out when the things that make the other person in and of themselves don’t interest the other
    Differences:
    – I’m a morning person, he does best when he can sleep in and stay up late
    – Different hobbies when it comes to exercise (he loves to do adrenaline pumping activities, i love classes lol and activities that connect me with a community)
    – he is very fascinated by investing related stuff and i could fall asleep on this instantly
    – i think a lot about social justice issues, whereas he has a more hands off approach of focusing on his own personal contributions of kindness versus reflecting on the bigger systems at play
    – I am very empathetic and can talk about my feelings allllll the live long day, and he doesnt have this need but will happily ask if i want to watch a movie during dinner or talk about our feelings lol
    – i LOVE DOGS he likes cats. we will have to navigate this one delicately i suspect….
    – We’re both into making our home a lovely space, but I am farrrr less detail oriented than he is and thus I am faster to get shit done but do it less ….thoroughly… shall we say.

    Wow this list can go on but that’s just what comes to mind!!! Thanks for giving me a chance to reflect on something so thought provoking!

  3. Hannah says...

    This is so hard. I love my husband very, very much. We are both from an incredibly white, affluent, conservative area- Minnetonka, MN. We both went the same high school, he is two years older and was the captain of alpine skiing, lacrosse, and soccer (HOT!). Both of us went to college and united over awkward interactions at mutual friends’ parties post college. We have been together for 12 years now and are hoping to start a human family (we have 16 and 17 year old DOG ISSUES) but we are not politically aligned. I work with some of the most “at-risk” students (what white lady made up this term?) in Minneapolis. He loves and has graciously supported the students that he has met but the idea of institutionalized racism has eluded him. He’s the kindest human I have ever met but we struggle to find a common place politically. So hard.

    • Abby says...

      I am sorry to hear this but hopeful that you will get him to see it soon.
      My partner had a similar issue with his dad recently and he made the case for institutionalised, structural racism by making it super-personal and relatable for his dad. He has a heart condition which is invisible, but if you stand close to him you’ll hear the mechanical clicks of the valve. So my partner framed it like “imagine you would not get a job because you have a heart disease – even if you are perfectly able to do the job, have graduated honours from your university (make it specific!) and are the best of the applicants just because the HR team or future boss thinks people with heart disease are incapable of doing the job”, “imagine you would not get to vote because the state says people with heart disease have to go through lengthy procedure to prove they are elligible to vote”, “imagine you would walk into a store and staff would follow you just because you have a heart disease and they were taught in training that people with heart disease steal more often than others”, “imagine mum would not have considered dating you because she thought her parents might judge her for dating someone with a heart disease” and so on and so forth… It was a hard conversation but eventually his dad got there. Afterwards we also loaned him “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge because we found it ourselves so revelatory (we live in Europe and very often say “it’s an American issue” instead of focussing on the racism that does exist in Europe) and straight to the point like having a friend explain it with real life experiences.
      Maybe you can think of something that makes it more personal and relatable to your husband?

  4. Lucy says...

    I loved reading this piece! Especially him reading about Greek Democracy vs you on insta. This is my husband and I in a nutshell. Before we go on flights he often ensures he has several wikipedia pages on various topics open on his phone for him to read. I mean no surprise, he is a history teacher, but I am still astounded by his breadth of knowledge. I have asked him to explain the Palestine/Israel situation twice, but I still don’t fully understand…
    We overlap on morals, politically, the importance of kindness and charity, a love of cuddling and naps, and quite a lot of TV series.
    We differ in that I am far more adventurous with food, he loves Irish folk and I love pop, I am a social butterfly and he prefers being at home and my most used apps are social media and his are news and podcast apps.
    I looove our differences. They make life so interesting and fun.

  5. Kat says...

    The timing of this post is impeccable as we’re going through this exercise right now and not sure how we’ll come out.

    Overlap:
    – Very politically opinionated, invested in lifelong activism
    – Lover of music, food, art, journalism, other media, and trying new things; believe in pleasure/relaxation/creative pursuits
    – Empaths who value each other’s vulnerability and honesty
    – Night owls who love sleep
    – Invested in self-improvement and consistent self-reflection
    – Love a late night out, dancing, and karaoke
    – Kind, playful, loyal
    – Share a dark side and can both get lost in our thoughts/emotions
    – Wear our heart on our sleeves
    – Very devoted to coming out clean in arguments and have the appetite to talk endlessly to resolve things. Both quick to apologize and be wrong
    – Dreamers but realists when it comes to the other’s dreams

    Differences:
    – Religion (this may the big KO)
    – Different upbringings: I come from a 1st gen, upper-middle class family of immigrants; he is white from a more blue collar, homogeneous environment, and we’ve had to embrace a lot of cultural learning in our relationship
    – Friends/family: I make decisions with my whole family; he doesn’t and is more detached. I have many deep friendships; he’s happy with a close circle of ~5 that focus on hobbies vs sharing life experiences/journeys with each other. It’s more difficult for him to connect with people, and I can feel awkward sometimes with him in social situations.
    – Both intensely curious but while I’m more curious about people, he’s more curious about how things work. E.g. I find out the life stories of every person I share a cab with; he goes the whole day barely talking to anyone while breaking down social theory in his head. This comes to light when I’m thinking about things like how to be a better friend to someone or how to make someone feel special for an occasion, and these thoughts don’t resonate or occur to him at all.
    – Ambition: I’ve recently realized I’m much more ambitious than I realized about my career, and he is ambitious about making change but cares less about title/role/impact/doing something he’s uniquely suited to do. He’s go with the flow with his vision and I have a deep desire to be successful.

    Some of the differences are big things, but it’s always been so easy to communicate even through the hard conversations that I keep holding out for when we can come to reasonable compromises on things where we really, really differ. Most of all, I feel very loved and supported and feel we can talk about anything together, but I do wonder if there isn’t someone out there who will naturally/more easily vibe with my family/friends and be more similar to me on upbringing/background (it would just be easier). Any tips/suggestions on how to know whether you can take the next step?

  6. Rita says...

    A couple of years into our relationship my boyfriend and his friend picked me up in his friend’s van (I can’t remember who or where or why, but I didn’t know the friend well), and as I got in the back I saw a stack of books. Reading the spines of the books I exclaimed “what an interesting person!” My boyfriend beamed and said “thanks, I’ve just been to the library”.

  7. Olivia says...

    My husband and I come from different countries, but we love lots of the same things: reading in bed, long hikes, debating politics. And we value many of the same things: good communication, loyalty, freedom, kindness. We had an inkling of all this when I got pregnant on date #3, but thank goodness we discovered much more we agreed upon (including, eventually, baby names;)

    But the best thing we discovered is how different we are: when there is an emergency, he panics but I am eerily calm. With the kids, he is endlessly patient and I am immediately frustrated. When it comes to packing, he is a magician and I am a complete mess. In these situations, we know we are each other’s lifeboat.

    • Debbie Thackeray says...

      Absolutely love your last sentence…we know we are eachother’s lifeboat. What a beautiful way to put it. x

  8. Lily says...

    My boyfriend and I are VERY different. We come from different home lives/religions/sibling amounts/sports teams and states.
    We overlap where it counts!
    – We have both at one point lived in and LOVE Chicago
    – We both like to discuss our next meal over our current one
    – Shared love of Curb, What We Do in the Shadows, Frasier
    – He likes the cake part, I like the frosting
    – We are both curious about things and why/how they got to be that way
    – Shared love of themes
    – Both not that into PDA
    – Both enjoy singing along to showtunes in the car
    – Not outdoorsy people
    – Shared love of hotels
    – We both have very big dreams
    – We want a lot of the same things
    But also even if we didn’t have those things I like the way his face smells all the time and he is very good at giving me hugs when I am sad and I think he is very funny (don’t tell him that tho).

  9. Kris says...

    I second other comments that said its the big things; me and my husband has almost nothing in common:
    I love books, libraries and bookstores are my happy place; my husband dislikes reading and fall asleep in a paragraph or so
    Speaking to new people is excruciating for me; he is easy going and easily makes conversation
    I HATE trying new food (or new things in general); he likes nothing more than experimenting with new restaurants/recipes
    I am not good with money, he is frugal as one can ever be
    My body moves as stiff as robots and I know no rhythm whatsoever; he is good with movements and excels in most sports and music
    On a related note, I need silence to work, he needs EXTREMELY loud music to do anything really
    I am really indecisive but he takes risks ALL the time

    BUT, a great overlap between us:
    Both think family and friends are important
    Has a similar view on religion/ values of life
    Both have poor taste on movie (me: the cheesiest rom-com the better, him: all weird action movies where I don’t know most of the casts)
    Both have poor taste on fashion (unfortunately)
    Most important one: after almost 10 years together, we both still want to be with each other :D

    • Nicole says...

      I can totally relate to you! I struggle with it sometimes that we have so little in common, but I also know that being with someone so wildly different from me is on some level also very good for both of us. We both have very strong personalities and we need the other person for balance. After more than 20 years he is sometimes still a mystery to me and I love that so much.

  10. Claire says...

    I have been reading COJ religiously since my early twenties (I’m 28 now) and always used to feel such longing whenever I read the relationship posts as I was mostly single. I am finally in a happy, healthy long term relationship, something I always feared would never happen. Fun to be able to think about this question now :) Wish I could go back and tell my younger self to relax and trust that someone wonderful is going to appear.

    We both love plants, food and drink, sushi, going out, Community (the show and the concept), living intentionally and passionately, Sigur Ros, travel, and both speak Spanish.

    He is a deep night owl, I’m a moderate one. I’m a gluten and lactose intolerant vegetarian, he’s a voracious omnivore. He loves Will Ferrell and I! do not!! Mostly we don’t have the same taste in movies. I lean hard on my emotions, he leans hard on logic. I’m a maximalist, he’s a minimalist. I’m a 5′ 9″ tall blond blue-eyed gal from San Diego. He’s a 5′ 5″ dark/curly haired man from Mexico. There is absolutely no one else’s face I’d like to smush mine into. (:

  11. My partner: buttoned up, organized, numbers and spreadsheet wizard, great eye for interior design, loves cold weather, can nap multiple times a day, super chill.

    Me: emotional Pisces Type 4 AF, can’t math, keep a budget, or use excel to save my life, will hang one unframed poster and call it decor, freaks out if it’s below 80 degrees, never naps, has a hard time relaxing.

    Overlap: Love of animals, love of travel, detests anything or anyone fake, wants to see the world, sensitive, loves true crime, loves to cook, both vegan, loves tattoos, similarly introverted.

    I loved reading this! He would never read something like this, but I’ll tell him about the article and he’ll chuckle from across the room. so i guess there’s a bit more overlap :P

  12. Anna says...

    Wow I love this question!

    My husband and I joke that we are “functional soulmates”, meaning we are great life partners but do not share the “I met part of myself when I met you” familiarity feeling that some couples have. Instead, it was, “It’s you, the person I am destined to do this life with.”

    We are both practical and frugal. We enjoy (moderate) exercise, dark comedies and dining out. He loves to make jokes and I am an easy laugh. We are intensely attracted to each other. I have a background in writing and music, and he appreciates that creative side of me. He is commanding and persuasive and, as someone who grew up as the one “in control,” it’s nice to have someone I trust to take the wheel. We are both quick, deep thinkers. We both see each other as a true partner in every aspect of our lives – careers, kids, lovers and friends.

    Our differences are significant. I grew up in the Midwest, he immigrated from the former Soviet Union. His family is Jewish, mine is Catholic. He is Gen X, I am a Millennial. In politics, I am left of center and he is right of center. He used to listen to NIckleback, which – possibly more than any of the other things – was almost a deal breaker. :)

    When we fight – most always as a result of those differences – we both come back to, “I’m just not over you yet.” I expect we’ll feel that way for the rest of our lives, and as the years go on (nearly 10 now), I appreciate more and more the relational fits between us that make us work and think less and less about those identity issues. It’s a welcome shift in aperture.

  13. Cora says...

    This reminded me of the early days in my relationship with my husband. We drove by a McDonald’s and started talking about Happy Meals. I sheepishly told him I had a very uncommon kid go-to order. He looked at me and said, “I always got a Filtet-o-fish in my Happy Meal.” I screamed back, “Me too!” Something about that weird overlap connected us in a deep way.

  14. Maureen says...

    This is such a sweet little essay. Made me smile, thanks :)

  15. Andrea says...

    We overlap on everything essential—our faith/trying to live lives of wholeness and holiness; being curious and grateful; taking delight and joy in life; willing the good of each other. Everything else is room for difference.

    “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity.”

  16. AC says...

    Me: a morning person, love to eat healthy (my pregnancy cravings were salads and nectarines!), love punk/metal/classic rock, horror movies and scary stories, cold weather
    Partner: a night owl, always snacking on crap foods, does not really listen to music (!!), prefers blockbusters, warm weather

    Our intersects: true crime, video games (though our tastes differ vastly), eating and cooking, going to the beach, road trips, animals, spending time outdoors

    Thinking about these things during this time of quarantine has helped remind me why we were drawn to each other, despite driving each other crazy while cooped up at home!

  17. Daniela says...

    I love this! My husband and I have our differences.. He loves late nights and I love early mornings. He loves meat and I love vegetables. Etc..

    But! We both want to live out in nature and have a farm or something similar. We get overwhelmed going out and love staying in. We love to travel and move new places. We like the same music. We like the same shows. I’m sure I’ll think of so much more after this :)

  18. When we fell madly in love at Burning Man in 1997, our friends thought we were crazy. I was 27, he was 21. We were both just out of serious relationships. I was a poet just starting my MFA and he was a geek, as we called folks who worked in tech then. Our divide was so great that the only person I knew who worked in an office was the one I met him through. We appeared on the surface to everyone else to be wildly different. We were engaged after four months, which scared the bleep out of everyone except our parents, who trusted us, bless them.

    23 years later we remain madly in love, which is a good thing since we are quarantined in our home, a small sailboat in Mexico whose interior is smaller than our San Francisco kitchen was.

    Our Venn diagram is of values and dreams; we felt this from the start and one of the ways we have built upon it is by reading together. So much of a person in their inner world, and reading together creates a shared inner world. We don’t read in lockstep or perfect tandem, but either of us can say when we feel a book will be vital to our sense of the world and the other will read it.

    • Anon says...

      Love this, it is very beautiful when two people truly connect. And I want to add that it is refreshing to read about an older woman with a younger man. The other way around is such an accepted norm, the older man and the younger woman… I am so tired of that stereotype. Good for you for doing things your own way.

  19. Clare says...

    My husband and I have been together 18 years, married 14, with 2 kids. We got married YOUNG – like early 20s – and have had a subpar marriage for most of it. We didn’t know ourselves enough to embrace our differences – felt like they were insults to the other person.
    Our pandemic has been filled with revelations about past traumas, some major depression, betrayals, and now healing and growth. It’s been a wild ride, but now that we’re moving forward in our “second marriage” (that old one was shit), it’s fun to think about our Venn Diagram, because I value our both our independent selves and I value the life we’re building.
    He would read for 12 hours a day/I would talk to friends for 12 hours
    He loves goes to see live music (jazz mostly) / I would rather see a musical, play, or comedy show
    He loves to figure out all kinds of puzzles (including those in video games) / I love to figure out puzzling situations with people
    He likes to try new, complicated recipes / I love making old favorites
    He carefully and lovingly tends to things we plant in our garden / I don’t really care if things don’t make it through the season or if squirrels get all the figs/tomatoes/whatever first
    He likes to keep things running in the house / I like to make the house work better (design/layout, furniture, storage, etc.)
    BUT – our overlap space
    We love ordering vegetarian or vegetable tasting menus at fancy restaurants (We aren’t vegetarian – just love what chefs do with plants)
    We love going on walks – very long walks in pre-kid days
    We love opening the windows – especially when the air is a bit crisp
    We love traveling – especially to cities, but are also hoping to visit some national parks, etc. when it’s safe
    We love snuggling our two boys – they are the biggest snuggle monsters, and we love when they crawl up into our laps (even the 9 year old – oof he’s big!)
    We love getting up early
    We both love music (but he’ll listen all day long, while I want certain music at certain times for certain moods)
    Our politics align very closely and we love learning from each other’s perspective

    We are embracing the venn diagram nature of it – both the overlap and the separate spaces – and it’s a pretty rewarding process after so many years. So thanks for having this conversation here – it’s been fun to write these down and reflect.

    • Liz says...

      This is really beautiful. I wish you a fulfilling and above par second marriage together! Good for you for doing the hard work to move forward stronger

    • tara says...

      well done, you guys.
      really happy to hear you’ve had time and space to work through things AND reconnect.

      as a side, and somewhat related:
      i read once that the first seven (or so) years are the hardest of marriage, and that most people who divorce sadly end up going through the hardest parts of marriage repeatedly.

  20. Jessie says...

    Weirdly, Normal People. I really wanted to watch it and thought my husband would hate it, but he got super into it and we still discuss the show and characters.
    Other than that, we both like old movies like Sho Around the Corner and Some Like It Hot.

  21. Malissa says...

    When life feels like a constant uphill battle about all the myriad ways that my husband and I are so different, the glue that holds us together is that we generally are very in sync with how/when we spend our quality time together. I don’t feel like we have to negotiate the ins and outs of this one thing and it can make all of the other mountains feel more like mole hills.

  22. Jax says...

    Overlap:
    – politics
    – being snobs about really good rock music (whether indie, grunge or classic)
    – golden age of hip hop
    – Tarantino movies
    – Wes Anderson movies
    – Bill Murray
    – Steve Martin
    – cream of the crop tv shows (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Expanse, The Wire, The Expanse, The Americans, Halt & Catch Fire)
    – the best in standup comedy
    – silly, juvenile comedies like Neighbors, Talledega Nights, Old School, Bridesmaids, Superbad, Blades of Glory, etc.
    – great dancing — Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire plus Step Up 2
    – a beautiful piece of aged steak and we both just love food, in general.
    – Pilgrim Scott vs. the World
    – classic and outlaw country music

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg, so we’re lucky.

    Where we definitely don’t overlap:
    – I love Star Wars Episodes IV-VI, but he cares WAAAAAY too much about the whole franchise.
    – I feel the same way about James Bond and Hitchcock movies that he feels about Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who.
    – I could eat pasta every day with some minimal sauce and greens. He needs protein almost every meal. In fact, I love kale, brussels sprouts, eggplant, bitter melon, broccoli rabe — he wants nothing to do with any of that.
    – We like to travel in very different ways, though we both enjoy just chilling out in a city or place for a whole week vs. going from place to place to place. I could be out all day, walking endlessly. He wants to stop at a pub or bar for a couple hours and chill.
    – He’s a big-time geek D&D geek
    – I love hangin’ at wine bars and am obsessed with modern/midcentury design
    – He loves campin’, fishin’ and huntin’
    – I’ll be watching my Queer Eye and Tidying with Marie Kondo
    – He’s into Dali, I’m into Diebenkorn

  23. Laura says...

    My husband and I immediately bonded over the fact that we’re both 30 Rock obsessed- like, know every line from every episode obsessed. We also share a love for 90s action movies, steak, mid-century modern furniture, and we have the same taste in music and tolerance for social gatherings. Where we differ: he likes to be early to things whereas I’m usually running late, I love anything sour (candy, pickles, vinegar) and he haates it, and he has a lot of patience- which I have nearly 0 of!

  24. Christan says...

    One day I was chatting with a student of mine about her frenemy in the class.
    “We are two different souls…” she responded.
    My husband and I say that to each other frequently when we notice our own non-overlaps. When said as dramatically as a 12 year old girl, it lightens any tension.

    • Emily says...

      HA as a former teacher this made me laugh. I LOVE the melodramatic precision of kids’ language and emotions. I wish adults would give ourselves permission to feel that much sometimes!

  25. Annie says...

    It was the long-sinc ended Michael Ian Black podcast, “How to Be Amazing.” We didn’t even like the same guests! Still looking to replace this one in our overlap…

  26. Eileen says...

    This is a fun post. My husband and I laugh about how opposite our Netflix profiles are. His filters to dark and fantasy shows and mine are bright and relational. Another laugh for us was sitting side by side and doing our color profiles. He balanced between 2 colors and balanced on the other 2.
    One of my favorite memories from dating was from our first Christmas and realizing a lot of his ornaments from childhoood were the same as mine growing up. The overlap felt very meaningful and special.

    • Tora says...

      Its the same with med and my partner, but then we also have a joined profile, that is kind of our Venn diagram in this case :)

  27. Annie says...

    I love this article. From the spot on hilarious picture of the Obamas to your relatable and warm description of your relationship. My husband and I have been together for 10 years and married for 5. We are not alike in so many ways. (He cleans for fun and is allergic to sugar). But we have some overlap for sure. We both hate pets. (don’t @ me) We are frugal. We can eat the same meal all week, and that meal is usually subpar burrito bowls.

  28. Emily says...

    I love this concept and I use it in all sorts of ways beyond romantic relationships. Some of my friends and I are so different, its fun to point out the foundational, important stuff in the overlap! We’ve also talked about how our families and partners are so unique and yet there’s some good stuff in the middle there too. I’ve got mental images of complicated 6 circle venn diagrams. I love hearing other people thinking the same way!!

    • Ellen says...

      yes! love this and in general I think most relationship advice can/should be applied to friendships!

  29. Ne says...

    Oh Kim, I needed to read this! I have been single for a very long time and I am untangling who do I think I am, to the kind of love I believe I deserve, to the kind of love I want – with a very awesome therapist!!! And while I can’t say how but your article helped!!

    • K says...

      I needed this as well! I’m in a relationship and reading other people’s comments really makes you reflect on the similarities more. Therapists are so great! Mine made me write a very specific list of things I wanted in someone (likes Wes Anderson movies, enjoys sidewalks, will try eating new things, etc) and I found it! We still have enough differences to keep it interesting. Best wishes on your journey!

  30. Janan W says...

    The husband and I:
    Married 23 years this December, 4 kids, baby is a senior, so nearly empty nesters.
    Differ:
    He falls asleep early most nights and gets up early to run/I fall asleep late most nights and sleep through his run
    He hasn’t shed a tear in all the time I’ve known him/I cry often and in great quantities
    He thinks staying in bed on the weekend is a waste/I think it is a must
    He needs to always have a project going/I need to nap on the daily
    He’s the dreamer/I am the dream killer (realist;)
    He sleeps hot/I sleep cold
    He wants to snuggle all night/I need personal space to sleep
    He loves pets/I, with little exception, do not!
    Overlap:
    We love our garden! I design it, He tends it
    We love good food, like really really good food
    We love to travel and spare no expense on the food we eat while doing it
    We love living warm, and hate winter (though he does enjoy skiing)
    We love dating, must go out several times a month
    We love family time. Games! Movies! Food! Laughing!
    We both love Audible (but never listen to the same books)
    We love camping with a working toilet. I do the prep work, he does set-up and cooking
    We both love Musicals (Best in person!)
    There’s more, a lot both in both categories:)

    • Rachel says...

      love this!

  31. Elizabeth says...

    I love this way of looking at things! It totally makes sense to me, and I love that people are talking about both small and big things. I am curious, though, what are others’ experiences with how this overlaps (no pun intended, haha) with online/app dating? Meaning that so much of online and app dating is all about defining ourselves by our interests – favorite books, hobbies, etc – and I wonder how much that has affected everyone’s collective openness to clicking with someone who may not share the kind of interests they had in mind for a partner.

    • E says...

      This is a good question. If my partner had the job he has now when we met online, I may not have even agreed to meet him. But since I had gotten to know him before he started applying for positions in that career, I knew that some of the things I love about him (his dedication to doing good and treating people well, wanting to help people, doing his best) also make him a really good person to do his job, and also not like many of the other people who have the same career. So I would have missed out. I think it’s really important to balance categories (which a list of attributes/interests can turn into) with seeing each person as an individual. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, regarding relationships in general, not just dating.

    • Ana D says...

      Good question. My short answer: nobody filters by fave books on online dating platforms.

      There was just *something* about my now-husband’s profile and message to me. I definitely didn’t want to hook up with him, and I disagreed with his stance of raisins being an abomination, but I had to talk to him. And I had the freedom to do so, low stakes. Without online dating, we could’ve lived 10 miles away from each other and oblivious for another 10 years.

  32. Mouse says...

    I thought I was the only one dramatically singing to our cats! (I was an opera singer in a previous life) I especially like putting nonsense to classical tunes. Rhyming mouse and house……..:) They like it. I think.

    • C says...

      I really think they do. :D Our lovely cat who passed away after 15 years with us used to join my mum when she was practicing her singing for choir practice and positioned herself ready to be serenaded

    • Emily L says...

      C- that is so sweet! What a lovely memory.

  33. Susan says...

    An old man I knew said it didnt matter what a couple didn’t agree on as long as they could agree on these “M” s. Money, manners, meals, morals. There may be a 5th one I am forgetting! But as a pretty old girl now in a wonderful long term relationship, I think he was onto something!

    • Neha says...

      The fifth M is Monogamy. That we mean the same thing to each other.

      But I heard them as Morals, Manners, Money, Monogamy and Marx Brothers. Hadn’t heard Meals before! 😁

      I’ve heard it on a podcast… google Writing Excuses and Marie Kowal Robinette 5 Ms of relationship or something like that it’ll come up

    • jules says...

      Wow the M’s just explained how we’ve stayed together for 20 years. That and a shared love of:
      old soul, gospel and country music (1920s-70s)
      dark comedy
      bad kitchen dancing
      Intense hiking trips
      unconditional pet love
      travel
      working
      Moonstruck

      differences – tidyness, sleep needs, temperament, spirituality, he inexplicably listens to talk radio, car temp (ongoing battle), driving philosophy (him grandma, me formula 1 , also a battle)

      Used to have some political divides, no longer

    • Jo says...

      Oh, phew, thank you Susan! I was reading everyone’s overlap lists and not really coming up with too many for my own longterm relationship. But we do agree on the M’s!

  34. Rachel says...

    I love this post! I think this will be our date night conversation tomorrow. We have a lot in common interest-wise and our values are very much shared. We do have a big-ish difference and I wonder if anyone else has experienced this. My boyfriend has a pet cat that he’s had for years before our relationship. I am very allergic to cats (and not really a fan of them in general). I need to take allergy pills when I’m at his place. We’ve been together almost a year and I feel like we are putting off the conversation of moving in (although we talk about marriage and both see a future together) because of this.

    • LC says...

      Purina Pro Plan just launched a cat food called Live Clear that reduces the proteins in cats’ saliva that many people are sensitive to. (In full disclosure, I’m a Purina employee.).

  35. Meagan says...

    Our Venn diagram would have turning random words into songs, Schitts Creek, Will Ferrell movies, our love for our cats, The Beatles, the Thai place in town, our homebody natures and our travel styles (thank JEBUS). Otherwise, we have very little in common by way of interests. I read, eat super healthy, love sitting in silence, am constantly taking courses and enjoy yoga and photography whereas he hates reading (but is a sports writer), he lives and breathes sports, he would only eat pizza forever if allowed, loves scrolling on his phone and listens to everything so loud he can hear it with his whole body. Yet we are such a good match!

    • Miranda says...

      I had my ban my man from McDonalds and sugar. He’s STILL complaining about it. But we can’t get enough of each other :)

  36. Chrissy says...

    This is a fun exercise! Helps me look at our relationship with star-eyes (mostly) .

    Hubby: Doesn’t like trying new things but working on this for me
    Me: Loves going out, trying new foods, new routes

    Hubby: Reads news all the time. Loves political debates. Socially liberal, but everything else conservative.
    Me: Reads mostly headlines. Hate debates. Love reading cooking-related websites. Everything liberal.

    Hubby: Loves working on engines, motorcycles, cars, etc.
    Me: He tells me how turbo engines (?) work to help me fall asleep.

    Hubby: Snores loudly
    Me: Can sleep through loud snoring

    Shared things: road trips, fishing, camping, NYT puzzles, some TV shows, card games

  37. Rosalie says...

    God, I love this! It’s making me think about my relationship with my husband and how we do and don’t overlap. Thanks for this thought-provoking essay!

  38. allison says...

    this is such a fun idea!!!

    here’s my overlap with my husband:
    our greyhound cole, esp. his soft ears and funny sleeping positions
    negronis
    trying new foods and recipes
    ice cream
    gardening (though, him: hot peppers and blueberries; me: herbs and tomatoes)
    traveling
    n.k. jemisin
    jeopardy
    the desert, and mountains with lakes
    our peloton, esp. robin
    social justice and supporting democrats for office
    calexico (the band)

    and our differences:
    him: night owl x1000; me: in bed no later than 11pm or i can’t function
    him: scifi movies and tv shows; me: comedies, romcoms, documentaries
    him: data science twitter; me: political science twitter
    him: donating money to causes; me: canvassing, calling, volunteering
    him: wait to do all the chores until sunday night to enjoy the weekend; me: get all the chores done saturday morning to enjoy the weekend
    him: the dog has gotten enough exercise; me: i think the dog needs a walk
    him: inbox count 14,982; me: inbox count 8

    that last one is probably the best illustration of our differences…. :-P

    • Kerry says...

      Especially Robin!

  39. Kate the Great says...

    Oh, good. I wondered, when I saw your post about getting your own apartment, whether you and your boyfriend were still together.

    Not living with him is smart.

    Relishing the details of the lives of strangers is fun, especially when they’re not celebrities. Thank you for putting your heart into your blog posts. It’s wonderfully distracting from the humdrum moments of being a mom. Like right now, when my toddler is tired but he doesn’t want to admit it.

  40. Robin says...

    We call ourselves “the borg” because my husband and I are so similar, it’s like we have the same brain. Especially with covid, and each being unemployed, we do EVERYTHING together – check the mail, ride bikes, read, even hang out with each others friends. Our overlap is huge, both in little things and broader values. I’ve been thinking for a few minutes of our main differences, and all I can come up with is that he likes to drink pickle juice and I do not.

    • Emily says...

      Lol Robin “the borg” made me snort laugh. With each passing day of quarantine together, my husband and I get closer and closer to morphing into a borg. (And tbh when life returns to a bit more “normal”, me, my husband and our sweet little dog are going to have some weird separation anxiety after all this time together!)

    • Robin says...

      Emily… glad to hear I’m not the only one in the borg! I kind of love the borg. I know this couple that has been married for 25 years, and on their last anniversary I asked the husband what his secret to marriage was. He said, “we do everything together” and elaborated that they have the same friends, drive everywhere together, etc… basically they are the borg too. They even look alike… they both have mullets that originated in the 80s and have endured as long as their marriage, haha. It comforted me that it’s okay to be super attached as a couple, and that co-dependence is okay.

  41. SarahN says...

    I totally also have this misguided sense of romantic partners Venn diagrams should be as close to overlapping as possible – and it’s just not realistic!!

    We both love a morning lie in – I hate that he get 1-2 hours more than me on a work day when we stay together – he’ll come to bed with me, cause I love that, but also, he so regularly falls asleep on the sofa (and I NEVER do).

    He loves all things war history – fiction or not. Me? Please no!!

  42. Catherine says...

    This is a fun post! I always joke with my husband about “my internet” and “his internet” because he’s a computer engineer and never sees or reads any of the stories I tell him about.

  43. Staci says...

    I am from Indiana and my husband is from Nigeria, so there are many differences, but our overlap is:
    -Staying home
    -Leaving the house to go on walks
    -Comedy Bang Bang (the TV show and podcast)
    -Lord of the RIngs
    -Pasta of almost any kind
    -Ice cream

  44. Hilary says...

    How interesting! I love my husband more than anything but we are so opposites, he is a night owl, me an early riser, he is from the East coast, me a Midwesterner, I love coffee and wine, he can’t stand it, I’m a Democrat, he is a frustrated Republican. I know we have things in common or we wouldn’t be happily married these 15 years but I would love to see what our Venn Diagram looks like.

  45. EW says...

    This is such a thought-provoking post. When we met, my husband and I bonded over too much early American history shoved down our throats as kids (from VA and MA) and childhoods where our parents were physically present but mentally and emotionally absent for wildly different reasons. We both value adventure and trying something new; we view the unknown as exciting. We are both hard workers personally and professionally. We will each sacrifice for the greater good (me, to a point; him, with no end in sight).

    Him: Twitter; Me: Washington Post, NY Times
    Him: Pearl Jam, Beatles, 90s hip hop; Me: podcasts
    Him: cooks (thank god!); Me: bakes when the mood strikes
    Him: all the sports; Me: let’s just watch Law & Order (again!)
    Him: all the superhero movies; Me: movies are sooooo long
    Him: casual; Me: dressed up 24/7
    Him: books about vampires; Me: the latest political memoir
    Him: great at casual conversation; Me: deep dives into current events
    Him: fun and funny; Me: warm but serious

    • Caitlin says...

      When my boyfriend and I were in the early swoon of falling in love, it seemed like we were always aligned. Movies, childhoods, career goals. It amazed me. And then, one night, he just throws it out there that he prefers more recent Weezer albums to older ones. It was the biggest fight we have ever had :)

      Now, after being together for years and two kids in the mix, Weezer can still start what seems like a sweet and funny debate but has deep undertones of “who the hell are you and how can we share a life if you think this way???” That SNL skit about Weezer is honestly too real.

  46. Ali says...

    I love this! My husband and I are so different, but I think our main overlap is that we are both fiercely independent so we understand each others need for time alone or away.
    Our other overlaps
    – coffee
    – brunch
    – puns
    – love of the beach
    – day drinking in the sun
    – watching country calendar (a New Zealand classic!)

  47. e says...

    Overlap: We both love…
    * music, attending shows ( :( ), and growing our vinyl collection
    * dogs sooo much haha (honestly couldn’t be with a person who didn’t…)
    * being super active (he’s a cyclist and I’m a running who practices ashtanga)
    * a good smoothie
    * photography

    Differences: basically everything else
    *I love eating out at fancy restaurants; he views it as a waste of money
    *He plays video games. I try to pretend I don’t see it. lol
    *He’s a night owl, I’m in bed at 9:30
    *I have a big fam with a million cousins, he’s an only child and not very close with his extended family
    * He loves cars and motorcycles, and will spend days working on them. I could care less.

    Honestly, the more I think about it, I don’t think common interests matter very much. I really think it’s about being on the same wavelength, having similar values, and hating the same things (especially this one! haha) Also:
    I think it helps that we both have anxiety-inducing parents. I think that understanding has created a lot of compassion in our relationship and that issue has caused us to react to things in similar ways.

  48. Kylie says...

    I tell my teens’ that the most you’ll ever overlap with one person is probably 60% — and that’s great! That’s where I consider I am with my husband. No need to stress if you don’t have all the same interests. All my best friends in the world would put way different music/movies/etc. on their top lists than I would put on mine, and I love that about them. They introduce me to so much!

  49. Ashley says...

    My husband and I are similar yet incredibly different, our venn diagram includes:
    – Our puppy bailey
    – Cooking
    – Slow weekend mornings
    – Trader Joes
    – Just being outside
    – Travel
    – True Crime
    – Crime shows
    – Reese’s (this is a positive and negative)
    – Family time
    – Games
    – The Green Bay Packers

    We have a lot of mutual interests, but I think it’s the outside parts of the Venn diagram that make our relationship interesting after eight years.

  50. Elizabeth R. says...

    I am 34 and have never had a long term partner. But these comments are very sweet. I think a healthy mix of similar and different interests are key.

  51. Lauren says...

    Such a good post! Our amended list:

    Overlaps: We are both people-pleasers (although to different degrees); we share a similar, dry (and slightly crude) sense of humor; we love food adventures; we’re overly-earnest parents and are big on (over) communication; we love a good dance party; and we both exercise everyday. We also both share similar (but not identical) political convictions.

    Diverges: We have different temperaments — he’s endlessly patient and more go with the flow; I’m fire-y and have a million opinions. He reads exclusively non-fiction, while I’m a fiction-lover. I’m dying to get a puppy, but he’d be happy sans-pets for a long, long while. He’s pragmatic; and remembers many of the ‘keep life chugging along’ details — oil changes, watering the plants, dentist appointments. I cook big creative meals and am the lead the architect for many of our trips, weekend adventures and family traditions/rituals.

    So fun to read everyone’s unique perspectives!

  52. Joslyn says...

    I don’t know why, but this reminds me of how when I was little I was convinced I had determined the secret to a happy marriage: liking opposite types of fries. I was convinced my parents’ marriage was so solid because my dad liked the crispy ones and my mom liked the soggy ones and thus they never fought over them. Looking back, maybe the secret to marriage is as simple as that…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so cute, Joslyn!

    • Rachel says...

      I feel like my husband and I are the perfect pair because he likes everything in the Santa Fe Spicy Trail mix EXCEPT the sesame sticks, and I ONLY like the sesame sticks.

    • This is so sweet. I thought this was true of my husband and I for so long. Until one day I discovered that he didn’t actually prefer the soggy fries, he was leaving the crispy ones for me (my favorite). And here I thought we’d found some perfect french fry marital bliss. Turns out, he just knew me well and he’d been gifting me the crispy fries for years.

  53. Elle says...

    Oh, and coffee, we both love coffee! And while I’m at it, we both like big cities, reading, mountains, and the Pacific Northwest

  54. Brittany says...

    Our personalities are SO different, but there’s a lot of overlap with other stuff.

    – Politics and ethics (don’t think this would be negotiable for either of us)
    – We adore our rescue pup
    – Prioritizing travel
    – Midsomer Murders and Miami Vice
    – We love sandwiches
    – We like hosting dinner parties
    – We both think we’re the “funny” one in the relationship
    – Favorite fruit: nectarines
    – We both really love making new friends, even though he’s an extrovert and I’m an introvert

  55. Elle says...

    Our overlap/Venn Diagram:
    -True Crime
    -Hip hop and rap
    -Camping
    -Politics
    -Mountain biking
    -Snow sports
    -Football
    -Baseball
    -Roadtrips

  56. Julie says...

    I love this post and sentiment. It’s been on my mind a lot throughout quarantine – coming to understand the real, best reasons I’m with my husband! One of my exes (a problematic relationship for sure, but one that comes up in my mind sometimes) had the EXACT taste in music, movies, restaurants, clothing, everything that I did. I used to think that was a sign of compatibility. And it’s truly, truly not the only important thing or even something that important, which is astounding and such a relief. It’s about how you love each other, not what you each love. I LOVE how different our interests are, even when I get frustrated that he won’t wear a shirt I think would look good on him, go to a specific concert, or wants to talk to me about a war I have no knowledge of.

    For good measure, here’s the list of movies my husband and I can agree on that took us HOURS to compile:

    Moonstruck
    What’s Up Doc
    Pacific Rim
    Working Girl
    The Alien franchise
    Dirty Dancing
    First three Indiana Jones movies
    Interstellar
    Mulan
    When Harry Met Sally
    Mrs. Doubtfire
    Jumanji
    You’ve Got Mail
    Inception

    Lololol. Love you all!

    • Sofia says...

      “It’s about how you love each other, not what you each love.“ This. So true.

  57. Meghan says...

    Overlaps:
    – Planners who kinda have stoner backgrounds so we plan a lot but then also… go with the flow
    – Playful sense of humor
    – Equally comfortable in highbrow/lowbrow situations
    – Engaged in politics
    – Very family-oriented
    – Career-oriented to about the same extent
    – Social to about the same extent
    – Really enjoy camping/hiking
    – Both openminded
    – Both like to research/take action to about the same extent

    Differences:
    – My boyfriend has a really ingrained sense of right/wrong when he interacts with people in small ways throughout the day. He can get really upset if he feels misled by salesperson for example. My reactions are generally not as strong as his, for better or worse (my expectations might be lower?)
    – Historically I have been less anxiety-prone
    – He’s more left-brained than me

    Honestly, my favorite thing about him is how ‘adult’ and ‘laidback’ he is – I think we have this in common. He knows everything about the home mortgage process from fastidious online research but he is also really openminded and chill. It makes me feel really relaxed around him at almost all times because he’s always planning for the big picture – so I never worry that our important life things are slipping through the cracks – but he’s also very nonjudgmental and doesn’t really ‘need’ things to be a certain way. So I feel like I can tell him any kind of news or idea and it won’t break his heart, even if it disrupts his plans. It’s really relaxing to be around that kind of energy!

  58. Carrie says...

    This is timely. We’ve been struggling.

    My husband and I have been married 17 years, together for 22, and best friends since we were 13. We are very, very different in almost every way. Seriously. It’s hard, and it’s a lot of work.

    However, we are alike in one key way: we both deeply value self-examination. This allows us to reflect on ourselves when things are hard (or going well), to apologize, to see things from the other point of view, and to see each other as our greatest teacher.

    Additionally, we are definitely each others safe place to be vulnerable, and to fall.

    I’m not going to lie – this sometimes feels like too much work, it should be easier, and so on… but he is my emotional rock, and I am his, and ultimately our ability to be honest with ourselves and each other keeps us together.

    • Anon says...

      “Seriously. It’s hard, and it’s a lot of work.” @Carrie, this resonates so much. The first year and a half of my marriage has been so hard – not because we don’t love each other, but because we’re very different people and that has required a lot of really difficult conversations about our life together. We’re both 100% committed to the relationship, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but I also wish sometimes it could be just a little bit easier.

  59. Kyla says...

    My husband and I are wildly different in most ways. But early in our relationship, when he pulled out the compilation CD Ultimate Dance Party 97 and sang along to every song, as I had been doing with my girlfriends since 1997 (mind you we met in 2007) I knew that the ways we overlapped were so fun and made our differences exciting.

    Now we have 5 kids. And we still listen to Ultimate Dance Party 97.

    • Gaby says...

      I was maybe 9 years old when I found this in my older brother’s cd collection and stole it. I looked up the track list and made a spotify playlist a few years ago! :)

  60. K says...

    It’s funny how i just now truly realize how different me and my partner might be on paper?

    Where we overlap: we both love cuddling and talking and can stay at the beach till we’re the last ones there.

    He’s like Steven though, where for FUN he goes through the history of ancient philosophy because he’s earnestly trying to understand the world around him. I do like that stuff too, but I can also spend plenty of time doing “fluff” stuff, watching fashion and beauty Youtube. His guilty pleasure pretty much boils down to watching Facebook videos of Dad’s accidentally getting hit in the balls by their toddler.

    Like other people have mentioned though, the complementary stuff does feel like it works for the most part (I love cooking and eating, he loves eating and doesn’t mind doing the dishes). I feel more emotional with a pragmatic bent, he seems more pragmatic with an emotional bent. Probably explains how I am an INFP-T and he is an INFP-A according to a totalllyyy legit online MBTI test ;)

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      OMG. Yes! Steve loves slapstick humor when he wants to unwind, and I sit next to him looking through interior design youtube! haha

  61. Elle says...

    Ha! As an exhausted new mom of twins I find this post/concept so… amusingly banal?

    Our overlap is like:

    –the babies
    –did they poop
    –they pooped WHERE?
    –why did they not poop? is there a problem?
    –can you grab me a water real fast

    :P

    • Lora says...

      From a fellow mom of a toddler and baby: relatable content

    • Wendela says...

      @elle, My thought is that it’s not banal at all if you and your partner in parenting overlap on those topics! In so many marriages those issues are relegated to the mom, as her domain (even if she had a demanding job outside the home) and the dad can have other interests (outside of his job) like golf or basketball or backpacking with his buddies. I see this over and over, even still today (but for sure it was widespread in earlier generations). I’m so glad you and your partner overlap on those (Seemingly mundane) parenting topics —that’s awesome given your stage of life as a family!

    • Angie says...

      ooooh yes. this struggle is so real. But also, imagine how much worse it would be if only one of you was thinking about the poop?!? The babies would have you outnumbered!

    • Courtney says...

      Ellie- it gets better!!!! Good luck and congrats! :)

    • Em says...

      now THIS is relatable AF. ;)

    • Elizabeth R. says...

      I mean, being in the trenches is rough but it is not banal to care about love.

    • J says...

      But the concept of your babies’ poop is not banal????

    • Elle says...

      Wow thank you all for responding!

      I suppose this was my sarcastic way of saying: isn’t the only overlap worth discussing your intense, on-the-ground, messy commitment to building a life together? This phase (the trenches!) has shown me so clearly that these aesthetic/smaller differences truly don’t matter in comparison.

  62. Mak says...

    Yes, Kim! Sleeping in all the way. I think having similar sleep tendencies makes things naturally easier :) My partner broke up with an ex because on weekends she was always waiting for him to get up and at ’em! He said the pressure was too much, lol.

  63. Anna says...

    Oh what a fun way to look at things! I’ll play. Hubby and I both like puns, wordplay, and crossword puzzles (we can share them- are we unicorns?), we are both makers (different materials, though), and we both enjoy a strong Pacific Northwest IPA. We both like Star Trek better than Star Wars and we like moving and living in different parts of the country- good thing, because we have moved together six times in almost 14 years!

  64. Abesha1 says...

    But where’s the Venn Diagram?

  65. Emma says...

    Differences: I like reading, he likes science. He is pretty detached about politics, I am moved to tears by pretty much anything on the news. I love history, ballet, hiking, skiing, and cooking. He likes indie rock, playing the guitar, silly movies and isn’t a huge lover of the outdoors (but is making a genuine effort for me and it’s growing on him). I like smelly cheese and healthy food, he likes pizza. We are of different faiths and backgrounds.

    Overlap: travel, our dog, exploring our city. But most of all: valuing hard work, being passionate about our (very different) careers, compassion, family values, wanting kids, caring about our loved ones, genuinely respecting each other, wanting the same things from a relationship, believing in open communication and transparency.

    I previously was married to someone who was similar to me in all the ways (hobbies, background, professional interests, politics, etc) except what mattered: we really didn’t want the same things in life and we just weren’t very nice to each other somehow. I took me so long to understand that because we were basically the same person, right? So we had to be on the same path? It led to a traumatic divorce, and these days I just feel so blessed to have met someone who is with me on all the big stuff, no matter what our small differences are.

    • I completely relate to this – even the differences/overlap are almost identical for my husband and I. I used to worry (and sometimes still do) that we should have more in common. I’ve wished that he would love books as much as I do, or that he would share my affinity for political commentary. But in our 9 years of marriage I’ve grown to appreciate and respect the parts of our Venn diagram that don’t overlap. His interests have opened my inner and outer world to so many things I had never paid attention to. It’s also taught me to more deeply appreciate and honor my own interests, to savor and protect the things that make me, me.

    • Em says...

      Hi Emma — thank you for this comment! Lately, I think often about the ways my partner and I are different, and sometimes I secretly wish he liked more of the things that I like. Why is he obsessed with podcasts about fringe film rather than those on the political issues defining our time?!

      BUT! Who cares?! We have the same values, and like your partner, mine is making an effort in some areas so get on the same page as me (season tickets to the philharmonic, for example :)) and I with him (mountain biking, anyone?)

      This was such a great reminder that even if a lot of things are shared on the interests/hobbies side, it doesn’t matter if the shared values aren’t there. Time to be extra grateful for the kind, thoughtful, family-oriented man I have got!

  66. Bec says...

    This is so cute! My husband and I are both musicians, but I am classical and he is jazz. Honestly, I love that he is in a different genre because we get to learn from each other and feel like the expert in our own specialty!

  67. Wow, this is such a wonderful post. I’m currently working with a dating coach, and she talks a lot about finding someone with shared values vs. shared interests or checking off various boxes. And this really makes one think about how we could be closing ourselves up to something beautiful by seeing our differences in interests as a negative over something that can enrich our lives as a couple. Thanks!

    • Laura says...

      YES! YES! Molly, I’m cheering you on.

    • Elizabeth says...

      I would love to hear more about your experience working with a dating coach! Especially how you figured out who to work with and what a fair rate would be – I’m extremely curious but every time I’ve ended up on the website for someone deemed a dating coach, it seems kind of scammy? But I know there are legit ones out there, hence my interest in this kind of experience!

  68. Ruth says...

    Our overlap (known each other 21 years, together 15 years, married 7 — have two adorable, spunky daughters!) is everything except the following: ability to clean the bathroom (he is a master), enjoyment that comes from washing dishes (again, him), height (we are over a foot apart!), and the pace at which we read (me voraciously, him like molasses).

  69. Taylor says...

    overlap:

    -Shared future! On our first real date I told him that my last relationship ended because my ex didn’t want kiddos–I really wanted kids, he told me he also really wanted kids, when we were dating and before we had our daughter we would love to idealize what we want to do as parents, what kind of parents we think we’d be, what we’d like to instill and show our kids, now we’ve only been parents for 4 weeks and while the sleep deprivation and hormones makes us feel like we don’t really do anything other than feed her and google if we’re messing up, I feel like we parent differently but fill in each other’s gaps (I am the chatty/stimulating/anxious parent, he is the calm/organized parent)

    –Curious! We both like to explore and learn things and are both pretty good out of making a day of going somewhere new and telling each other our observations, that’s like my perfect day, going anywhere with him and just acknowledging things haha

    -FOOD! we’re both good eaters and had our wedding at our favorite restaurant so we could have our dream menu–shared love of food is also why we had our honeymoon in…..

    –Japan! Sushi + baths + booze + nature + exploration–thank god we went before I got pregnant

    –Collecting! We both hoard mementos and love framing little tchotchkes from our time together

    –Politics/morals–we’re on the same exact wavelengths in terms of beliefs which is a relief, no petty arguments trying to convince the other of something important–we’ve both had that in past relationships and marvel at how much we agree despite being so different

    different:
    –personality: I am very loud, he is very quiet, I am very anxious but confident, he has less confidence but can google something and learn it immediately, I am not artsy/creative and he is artsy (good at instruments, drawing, creating/coding), I am jealous!
    –hobbies: he loves video games and animation (I like them because he does but it’s his domain!) and I love tiki bars and tiki mugs and planning trips
    –background: I’m from a loud, southern Californian Jewish family, he’s from a big pacific islander family–we have zero shared traditions but it is fun to start to build our own hybrids!!

    • Ren says...

      Taylor this part of your comment – “…making a day of going somewhere new and telling each other our observations, that’s like my perfect day, going anywhere with him and just acknowledging things.”
      This is EXACTLY what I am like with my husband. Did you see that bird? Look at the rock! Ha I am essentially like a big kid when I’m out somewhere new with him.

  70. Rue says...

    I was basically wrong about love my whole life until I had lunch with the handsome human who’s hopefully going to be my fiance in a few months. I used to think it was a good sign if I felt so excited to meet the other person that I was almost in a panic. My boyfriend of ten years made me feel panic-excited and I thought at the time that it was sweet, that it meant we were destined for great things.

    A few months before I met my person, I had a date I thought was Perfect because I got that familiar panic-excited feeling, and then the dude ghosted me for our second date, and really, thank goodness. I remember walking out of a work meeting, checking my phone, seeing no response, the sunlight too bright as I trudged to the parking lot, the crunch of the gravel sidewalk, another Friday alone. It crystalized that panic-feeling for me, and made me start to question whether it was actually a good sign.

    Fast forward a few months and I felt… I can’t even describe it now. Comfort-happy? On the first date with my partner I felt calm, comfortable, interested, and like I could be on this date forever. No need to break so I could breathe into a paper bag.

    So yes, I have less “on paper” in common with my partner than with The Ghoster, but if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter who wants to watch what on TV, or play what music in the car. It matters that you want to be stuck in a squat little rental house together for perhaps eternity and feel like you could do that forever, no panic breaks needed. Or, well, I’m panicking about our engagement, but when I actually talk to him about it, the panic subsides.

  71. Kimberley says...

    Kim!! I love your writing…it always makes me laugh (a lot!) and nod simultaneously. It makes me wonder, where is the Venn diagram between writer and reader? There’s maybe a sweet spot that both resonates and challenges us readers when we’re just different enough (but not really) to create a reader-writer dialogue (I have never commented on a post in my life). On the surface I would appear to have more in common with Joanna (married, two young boys, blah, blah) but really….quoting Mindy as part of a thoughtful analysis of a relationship is a Venn diagram moment for sure.

  72. Sadie says...

    My favorite overlaps are religious trauma from childhood and telling every dog we see that they are a good boi or gurl.

    • steph gilman says...

      this is the best comment ever. YES YES YES.

    • ac says...

      I’m dying this is so spot on lolol

  73. Jenny says...

    My sister and I are so very different— she’s a gregarious New Yorker, never seen without full makeup, and a theme outfit (she donates plasma because she recovered from Covid and this time she wore a 1950s-style dress in dinosaur print with matching dinosaur mask— you should do her week of outfits!). She is huge hearted, fiercely loving, and a writer of novel-length erotic Hannibal fan fiction. While I’m so different from her, (think if your dad’s trusty LL Bean vest from 1993 were a human woman) her light makes me— and everyone—brighter. Kind, sparkling, inclusive oddballs make the entire world better because they are different, luminously so!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a beautiful love letter to her!

    • Eli says...

      Your sister sounds like such a light-filled person to know! Also, very intrigued as to the erotic Hannibal fan fic. But also you sound like the kind of person everyone needs in life – trusty, loyal, the perfect fit every time, a warm hug (bc that’s what comes to mind by LL Bean vest from 1993). Both of you sound like a delight. :)

    • hali says...

      wow i love this so much

    • Allie says...

      I JUST WATCHED SILENCE OF THE LAMBS THIS WEEK FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER AND OMG WTF HANNIBAL EROTIC FAN FICTION?!?! Also, you and she both sound lovely.

    • Em says...

      What a beautiful ode to you and your sister, Jenny. This brought tears to my eyes, and also made me think about how my sister and I, too, are very different, and how lucky the world is to have her in it (she is a middle school counselor for at-risk youth). I love that you made this sister love comment in a post about romantic love — really, all kinds of love have their own Venn diagrams! xxx

  74. Jes says...

    My partner and I have similar interests sure, but unfortunately after 5 years I am beginning to feel like perhaps we differ a bit too much on “the big things” to be truly compatible for the next steps – ie. starting a family

  75. hali says...

    The overlap is so apparent in quarantine!
    – we both like people who have personal ethical convictions
    – abba, david bowie, the beatles, chopin
    – British television
    – entertaining
    – cats
    – pace in museum exploration
    – creative time (him music, me making messes)
    – tendency to both constantly be dabbling in vegan-ism, always vegetarian.

    non-overlap:
    – i really only want to eat raw cabbage if it’s sliced very thin or shredded, he’d eat it chunky cubed if he could but, like… why!?
    – he studies medicine, i studied religion (he’s atheist, i’m agnostic)
    – the nostalgic music we like from high school is VERY different (him ensiferum and dream theater, me beirut and andrew bird)
    – he’s extroverted, i’m introverted
    – spice tolerance (him HIGH, me LOW)
    – breakfast preferences (he’s into fruity breakfast, i’m into savory breakfast)
    – I’m high anxiety, he’s lowwww anxiety.
    – him reddit, me coj

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “him reddit, me coj” = love it :)

    • em says...

      “pace in museum exploration” <3

    • Cait says...

      Thinly sliced cabbage – 100%!!

  76. Linda says...

    My husband and I don’t have much overlap. When we got married, they said that we were so different from each other, but added to each other in that sense and made each other stronger.
    Now, I wonder if we (I) will ever overcome those same differences, and incorporate/accept them into our lives.
    My husband likes staying at home in the weekends, meanwhile gaming or sleeping on the couch. I like to go out with our kid and visit friends and family and have a good time with them.
    I’m a big family/friends-oriented person, he is not so much.
    I would love to have a cat and/or dog, he doesn’t (even though he really likes them).
    I wanted to have a big family, he doesn’t.
    I loooooovvvve traveling the world, preferably for a few weeks, he doesn’t want to go far away, and preferably for just a couple of days.

    Thinking about what we do overlap on, the thing that comes to mind is that we can really enjoy the little things in life. Plus, once corona lockdown came around, we were really good together and worked like a wonderful team. It made me feel like how I felt in the beginning of our relationship.
    It feels like on a day to day basis, we have ‘enough’ in common and it’s all good, but if you look at the bigger picture/larger things in life, the differences are just so big.

    At this moment, I am having a hard time coming to terms with this. I really do not know how to create mutualness in our relationship anymore.

    I realize this is not the intention of your article. It’s just that it got me thinking about us and I wondered if anyone has any tips / same situation experiences, I would be most grateful.

    • Abbie says...

      Linda, one of my very best friends is the polar opposite of her husband in seemingly EVERY way. She is extroverted, loud, engaging, curious, loves a big, exciting life filled with as many new experiences, people, animals, et al as possible. He enjoys being alone, at home, period. Yet, they co-exist mostly happily because they love WHO the other is, not what don’t share in activities. He is calm to her wild, she is sunshine to his gray. Don’t know if that is helpful or relevant at all, but don’t despair if you seek a different life than your hubby, if the love for him is strong, you can certainly share different life experiences together. xoxo

    • Steph Gilman says...

      I sense a heaviness in your words, and I wish I could give you a hug. <3 I don't experience this with my spouse but I definitely have with friends who I've grown in different directions from. I can imagine that it would feel so lonely to have a life partner who doesn't to see the world through a similar lens as yours. Wishing joy and renewed energy for you and your husband. And if not, I hope you find it elsewhere, for you!

    • Mary says...

      Linda, your relationship sounds a bit like my dad and stepmother. They struggle with some of the same questions you’ve brought up – it seems like she wants to be very involved in the world, busy and social outside of the house, while my dad is content to stay at home and watch TV. I am so happy to hear that you and your husband have been handling quarantine well together and all the little things, but it sounds like you do have some major differences that could pose a challenge to your relationship in the long-term. If you haven’t already done so, I would recommend talking to him about the possibility of seeing a couples’ counselor to work through some of these differences and deepen your understanding of why you diverge on the “big things” (your values, means of connectedness, wanting to minimize financial/emotional burdens, etc.). I hope he is amenable to that, but even seeing a counselor by yourself might be helpful to talk through your observations in more depth. I am rooting for you!

    • jane says...

      I would say the most important thing to ask yourself is, do you feel loved by him? Secondly, sharing a life together, by definition, is primarily about SHARING your lives – together. If you are with someone who does not take pleasure in your life, or rather the big things that make you happy in life, then that is not the right person for you.

    • Hilary says...

      I’m sorry it is feeling hard. I’ve been there. My husband and I felt this way for at least a year or two after my son was born. It was pretty awful. We talked about divorce but our son was only 1 or 2 at the time, so we hung in there.

      It’s about six years later, with another kiddo added to the mix, and we are so, so much happier. Part of it was being determined to be together, while simultaneously letting go of our need for the person to be x, y, or z person. I don’t know that that’s the formula for everyone, but I do know that it’s possible to be in a yucky place and come out the other side, if that’s where your heart is pulling you. Hugs.

    • Chrissy says...

      Linda, letting you know you are not alone. My husband also is content being home, not straying from the familiar and the routine. I am like you. I crave adventure and the new. I work with dying people and I want to make the most of this finite and unpredictable life. An ongoing conflict we have is his pattern of saying no to activities I suggest on our few, shared days off. We’ve been together a long time but married for a short while. (It’s interesting how as soon as I got married, these things that I knew about him became bigger issues to me.)

      One book I found helpful was The All or Nothing Marriage, which is written by a reputable social psychologist. It discusses how expecting your partner to fulfill all your needs is a lot of pressure and sets you up for disappointment, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness. Take for example friendships. You may have the friend you count on to try new restaurants. Perhaps you have another but equally close friend you go to for emotional support. The book helped me ease off the pressure I had placed on our relationship. That said, I am still figuring this part out too. It’s especially hard during quarantine when I cannot see my friends who would normally meet certain needs for me. I wish you fulfillment, joy, and contentment.

    • Sylvia says...

      Hi Linda, I have not one bit of expierience in marriage, just had a thought reading your comment while under the influence of the other comments. It “just” sound that he is safest when at home in sync with him and the nearest loved ones and maybe routine, while you are safest when exploring and connecting to expieriences and people. Maybe you could find the similarities in the differences or make them work together. Like, traveling for two weeks to one spot where you as a family explore it like you would live there (“feeling at home”). Or like, inviting some people over for a gaming afternoon. Or make exploring something new a routine, like once a month. Or a monthly big family and friends dinner.

      I’m probably pretty naive here, but I wanted to spread some hope.

  77. Em says...

    Overlap:
    -Travel
    -Food and cooking
    -Diet coke and coffee
    -Obsessing over the cat
    -General worldview – existential and atheist
    -Fitness and exercise
    -Taste in furniture and home decor
    -Sarcasm and dry humor
    -A taste for both expensive things and cheap shit (can happily share both a very expensive bottle of wine or a PBR tallboy)
    -Credit scores
    -Highly independent, need alone time
    -Same general life plan/structure: Don’t want kids, focused on our careers and each other, don’t need to feel settled in any one place for the foreseeable future.

    • Em says...

      And adding on, some Differences:

      -Politics (source of many heated discussions)
      -Views on how early one should arrive at the airport (#2 source of heated discussions)
      -Totally different careers
      -Different upbringings
      -Music taste
      -TV watching habits
      -Driving styles and car preferences 

    • Agnès says...

      About the airport: my husband had to be at the airport hours before the actual flight. I used to get mad at that but THEN I understood it was becoming a problem, Now I am ready when it’s the comfortable time for him, and I just read a book or have something to drink. I think my effort has helped on other issues we could have had. If he’s the one who has to arrive early, you should just try, he has an irrational fear and there is nothing you can do about it.

    • Em says...

      Hi Em! (From another Em) AHH I got goosebumps reading this post, other than politics and jobs (which we are the same on) this could be my EXACT list. We also obsess over the dog. LOL if our partners had the same name too.

  78. Kate says...

    I recently saw a meme that said,

    “There are two types of people in this world:
    – It’s already 10:00 PM
    – It’s only 10:00 PM
    And they marry each other.”

    This made me laugh so hard, it’s so true with my boyfriend (the night owl) and I.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha I love that. true for my marriage for sure!

    • Andrea says...

      Too true! But, that’s genius, since it gives people built-in alone time. My husband often is up late watching movies he likes or baseball games while I am starfishing in the bed. I like morning time to get sh*t done, or just play fantasy real estate on Zillow.

  79. Anonymous says...

    Needed this today. My husband and I have been together nearly every moment since COVID struck and both of our jobs are now WFH. For some reason, this is the week we’ve finally hit our limit with each other … fighting galore. But this a good reminder to take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember that there is actually plenty I love about him and our life together, even if it doesn’t much feel like it right now. Thanks Kim and everyone in the comments!

    • CL says...

      This is so interesting. I absolutely hated my life all of March and April and May…so I wonder what that says about me, haha. I cannot operate at surge capacity? I am a teacher and we are back in school, in person, and I cannot tell you how much happier I am. This article gave me so much to think about! I think I run on surge capacity at the beginning of the school year too. (this comment was rambling!! Just so intrigued!)

    • Kathryn says...

      Heather, Thank you so much for this article, I have sent it out to at least a dozen people over the past week and it resonated with everyone.

  80. a.n. says...

    this is so fun! my husband and i have been married 9.5 years, together for 11 years, and we are still finding so many differences and similarities in each other. we’re VERY different in some aspects – i’m a major, major extrovert who thrives on meeting new people (he says i pimp out our kids at playgrounds to make new mom friends), i could sit in a chair and read all day without a care in the world, and i love basking in the sunshine like a cat. he, meanwhile, is a homebody who much prefers our couch to being out in a crowd, reads 2 pages and is like “hmm yeah let’s watch tv”, and is a redhead so basking in the sun all day is an actual nightmare of his. but, our overlaps? wayyy too many to count. we have the exact same taste in music and movies and food. same sense of humor. same parenting “style”. we both work our asses off in our jobs and LOVE that feeling accomplishment. and, we both love the exact same types of cocktails. boom – marriage made in hypothetical heaven.

  81. emily says...

    congrats on your bike purchase! can you show us pics? biking in cities is the best! you can go slow, you can go fast. its always an adventure. biking is def. on my overlap w. my hubs, and i bike more than him now!

    • Gina L. says...

      I just started getting into biking this year, so I’d also love a follow up on the bike and new biking adventures! My husband and I are currently overlapping on the biking, but he’s the night owl to keep an earlier thread going. :)

  82. LB says...

    There are plenty of things I could say about my husband of 5 years, but just the other night as I was making tacos, I said, “I REALLY appreciate that you like cilantro. I truly could not be with someone who didn’t like cilantro.”

    • Anne says...

      OMG – that one hit me right there. I am the only one in my family that like cilantro and it hurts.

  83. Katie S. says...

    My partner and I are complete opposites. I have a desk job, he’s a general contractor. I like to work out, he hates it. I’m cold, he’s hot. We like different sports, movies, food, activities, pets, hobbies, music…the list goes on! Not going to lie, sometimes it can feel like we’re not on the same page (or even in the same book!). But we have an almost creepy understanding of and agreement on the big things in life – love, politics, religion, family, friends, mental health, marriage, worldview, etc.

    I can handle explaining why Beyonce’s ‘Countdown’ is THE best song to dance to until I’m blue in the face, but I wouldn’t be able to handle explaining why voting is crucial or communication is key or sometimes you have to drop everything to be there for a friend. He just gets it and for that I am forever grateful. Plus, I get all his unwanted pickles!

  84. Erin says...

    I’m also thinking about the difference between the venn diagram we’d make for ourselves and the venn diagram our friends and family would make for us. Particularly when we met, people would comment on what an odd pairing we were: he was a professional in button-up shirts; I was a graduate student in birkenstocks. He was in an artistic field; I was an a quantitative field. He was raised in a very rural area; I was raised in a college town. And so on. But on our first date, we talked for hours and everything just lined up perfectly.

    Now after nearly 15 years, the venn diagram would definitely be different than when we met. We feel more similar, but really we’ve just adapted to being different in parallel. The other day, he was watching a video of an off road truck trying to make it over a muddy bank. I asked why he was watching it, and he only gave me a confused look that said “why would I NOT be watching this??” And I can still feel how his kind and calm manner helps me to smooth my sharp and judgmental instincts. This is a fun thing to think about. I think we may make our venn diagram this weekend, too!

    I find a lot of our differences fit together and complement each other. I think that’s one not-so-secret secret to a long and happy marriage.

  85. Anne says...

    First of all, I have a lot of overlaps with you and Steven. Are y’all looking for a third!? ; ) My husband and I have VERY FEW overlaps: s’mores, 90s R&B, and horror movies. But we’ve been together for almost 15 years, so I guess that’s all we need.

  86. Cece says...

    My husband and I are *very* different people. We’re from different continents, he’s a statistics guy and i’m all about words and emotions. I’m much more extrovert, he’s much more cautious than I am – I always joke his automatic answer to any question is no ;)

    But! We both love dogs. We’re both from families who speak their mind rather bottle things up. We both love to travel, our political beliefs are similar, and the cornerstone of our family life is probably food! We cook and eat and dine out and picnic and share recipes and we do it all as a way of making memories for us and our kids – it’s very central to our family dynamic.

  87. Julia says...

    My husband and I have been together for 10 years and I’ve found that our overlap waxed and wanes over the years, and doesn’t really have all that much to do with the strength of our relationship, oddly. We communicate really well and enjoy each other’s company, and that seems to be what matters most. We care enough about each other to respect the other person’s hobbies interests, and we’re secure enough to know that we don’t have to share those hobbies/interests in order to love and enjoy each other.

  88. Emilia says...

    Our overlap loves: British cozy mysteries (books, tv and movies); ancient mythology; cooking and baking; all things Italian; jazz music from the 1940s-1960s; traveling (sigh); the Marx Brothers; Wes Anderson and Coen Brothers films; and especially dogs. And of course there’s the critical nebulous area–where we agree on the basic tempo/flavor/style of daily life we prefer–right at the center of it all.

    • Susannah says...

      Yes to these critical things! Reading this makes me realize how divergent me and my husband are: he’s coffee, I’m tea; he’s night owl, I’m early bird; I’m action, he’s relaxin’. But same sense of humor, values and politics, wishes for our girls, playfulness with our cats, love of the woods. We’ve been best friends for over 30 years so the overlap we have must be the important things.

    • Katie says...

      can I ask what cosy British mysteries you watch? Also love this genre and am looking for something new to watch now. :)

  89. Hilary says...

    Loved this post (can someone please tell me what the Obamas amazing expressions are all about? Also, I miss them so much.)

    Another thing about being different is that it can really help your parenting. My husband is much more detail oriented and wants everything done a certain way. I am not that way at all. He always wants to be out and about on the weekends, and sometimes I just want to sit and rest and do nothing. But on the core stuff – values, the paramount importance of kindness and empathy – we’re almost identical. Having different parents gives kids more space to settle into whoever they are, in my opinion. It also shows them that someone doesn’t need to be just like them to be valuable and lovable.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all roses; I read somewhere that 80% of a long term couples’ fights are about irresolvable issues (which probably are related to deep differences). But the things that worried me early on don’t worry me existentially anymore – they just bug me on occasion (or, in not so great phases, all the time LOL!). You just have to know what the dealbreakers are for you.

    • Margo says...

      Our family loves to quote The scene from Midnight In Paris where Owen Wilson is describing what he and his fiancé have in common, and ends up with just Pita bread. “We don’t have the big things in common, but we have the little things. For example, we both like Indian food. Well, not all Indian food, but the pita bread. We both like pita bread.“ lol!

    • OO says...

      This is reassuring! My husband and I are about to have a baby and are different in similar ways, though I’m the detail-oriented weekend go-getter type.

      I really like what you say about a kid having more room to settle into themselves when their parents are different. Going to remember that! xo

    • CL says...

      I agree with this so much! I am very detail-oriented especially with parenting and I like things done a certain way, my husband just likes to be told which way to do it, ha! I couldn’t imagine if we were similar in that sense. I also think, and this could just be us, but before we had kids, a lot of our arguments were influenced by our families (his parents/my parents) but once you have kids, you form your own team, and whatever our extended family does/behaves doesn’t affect us as much, we just need to make sure we respond as a team and usually those decisions are driven by doing what’s best for our kids and no one else.

  90. Julie says...

    My husband loves anything technical about aircraft, cars, motorcycles, etc. He prefers reading books on history or Tom Clancy. I love horror movies and he hates them, I watch them to calm my nerves, something that he thinks “speaks to your inner psycho.” I read mostly fiction and abhor his love of listening to prank phone calls, which make me anxious. He’s a democrat but can be somewhat of a hawk, I’m what he calls a liberal activist.

    BUT. We overlap in a lot:
    -our love of travel, we are lucky to do so every chance we get (or we used to).
    -values, including supporting women’s and LGBTQ+ rights and BLM.
    -our taste in movies and tv almost completely overlap, we just finished Perry Mason and Letterkenny, we have Sicario on the docket for tomorrow, and we’re rewatching Alias.
    -we love watching hilariously bad movies for our favorite podcasts, How Did This Get Made? and We Hate Movies.
    -we have the same sense of humor.
    -we’re both outgoing and have a lot of friends, I can take him to any party and leave him alone knowing he’ll bond with someone immediately. Conversely, we both love being with our friends without the other. When either of us go out the person staying home calls it “house hotel.”
    -we love football and baseball, though we root for different teams.

  91. Jess. says...

    I think we can ALL agree on this picture of the Obamas! And I love that “dramatically singing to the cat” is within your overlap.

    • Emily L says...

      Same! That made me smile. Unfortunately cat singing is not at all in my overlap – I sing and dance to the cat while my husband stands there with his eyebrows raised at me! But he does love the cat very much in his own way, so I’ll take it.

    • Over the years. my husband and I have developed similar interests. I still don’t like some of the grumpy old men he hangs out with sometimes.

  92. Elisa says...

    Thank you for this tiny insight to your relationship! I would love to read more about you being in lock down together and your decision about moving into your own place now?

  93. Kara says...

    Our Venn is as follows, an abridged version, obvs:

    Him: recreational robotics, wearing a uniform (v neck black tee with black cutoff jorts and running sandals), dense historical nonfiction about the formulation of civic systems, Rick and Morty, mezcal

    Me: obsessive culinary endeavors, wearing light colored neutrals, Crafting/sewing, gardening, Kayaking, improv classes, The Crown, sazeracs

    The Overlap: coffee snobbery (we’re Portlanders), skiing, stand up comedy, books about conscious parenting, sci-fi, blowing raspberries on the baby, Bojack Horseman, rosé.

  94. Hilary says...

    Firstly, this picture just made me crack up. Oh, how I miss those two!

    My husband and I don’t seemingly have a ton in common: he’s a few years younger than me, grew up a conservative Catholic in Texas, is introverted and a scientist. I’m a noisy, liberal Lutheran, outspoken and a writer. But he’s such a kind soul, sensitive and curious, that we’ve found our power actually lies less in our overlap than in the balancing of our extremes. He’s helped me be more measured and a better listener, and I’ve helped him have more fun and be more open to the world around us.

    We see so much of each of us in our 3-year old – she’s deeply sweet in a way that’s all him, and rowdy in ways that are all me. Our balance now lives on in a tiny human, which is some kind of miracle. As long as she enjoys sushi, since that is one of the few things we definitely, definitely agree on!

  95. Laura says...

    My husband and I have known each other since elementary school, and have been together since senior year of high school, so we’ve had plenty of time to gradually morph into the other person, haha. In fact, the young daughter of friends once called us “the twins” since we wear similar glasses styles. Still, this is fascinating to think about:
    Where we clearly overlap:
    -Our weird, irrelevant sense of humor
    -Ability to quote ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’
    -Indie rock
    -Our love of cats
    -The fact that we’re serious homebodies
    -Regular exercising

    Where we’re still very different:
    -I am insanely orderly, and he is very messy. Lately, he seems to be protesting our laundry basket.
    -I watch HGTV, British gardening shows, and Hallmark movies to unwind. He watches anime.
    -I am infinitely more patient, while he is hot-tempered in the moment
    -I’m fairly satisfied with my small collection of hobbies and “things I do”, while is easily distracted and has 10 hobbies happening at once

  96. Christina says...

    I thought one of the overlaps was going to be the love of the Obamas because … that’s ours! haha

    • Kate says...

      I so want to know what happened just before that photo!

  97. Nora says...

    I love this!!! My husband and I actually have a lot in common, but one thing I often (only half-jokingly) tell people is the linchpin of any good marriage is…keeping the thermostat at the same temperature! It’s among my favorite things we have in common – we are always hot/cold/comfortable at the same time!

    • Agnès says...

      that is so amazing! It’s the main big difference between my husband and I! It’s a problem for sleeping, traveling, having a drink, many things ;-) you’re lucky to have that in common.

  98. jdp says...

    i love thinking about this. on first look, my husband and i have next to nothing in common, but for our wedding i created a sign-in book that showed pictures of us growing up and as young adults, and purposefully placed pics of us enjoying our surprisingly similar interests side by side. that was 16 years ago this month, and because of our particular venn diagram mix, i’m always interested to hear what he’ll say next. (well, almost always.) it’s a good feeling.

  99. kiki says...

    my boyfriend and I disagree on most big things in life – politics, religion, exercise (I dread it), even where we want to live. but our overlaps are so fundamental to *how* we live that it works

    – family first
    – never going to bed angry
    – open communication always
    – love for cats & dogs
    – eat anything cheesy
    – thirst for travel
    – cuddles

    despite being opposites on so many things, the manner in which we disagree, communicate & compromise makes us feel like we can take on whatever life throws at us

  100. Sarah says...

    I love thinking about this! This was a great post, Kim. Maybe my husband and I will write out our Venn Diagram this weekend. A new quarantine activity!

  101. Sarah says...

    I agree that core values are super important to be in your overlap; I also really appreciate that both my husband and I are easy-going types who go with the flow. Though it can make it hard to pick a restaurant or takeout when neither has a strong preference, it also means we are both very open to hearing the other’s thoughts and talking through important decisions together! That said – I like to articulate my entire thought process and he likes to share the conclusion he’s reached after taking that journey internally, haha. Premarital counseling helped us identify this dynamic, thankfully, so we don’t get frustrated with each other when I bring up a point he’s already considered but not shared with me.

    I also love that we share a sense of humor but we don’t come up with the same jokes/cracks – so much better to make each other laugh when the snark takes the other person by surprise :D

    • Agnès says...

      I need to talk to your husband! I get so impatient because my husband has to imagine all the possible scenarios whereas I am just interested in the decision making based on the conclusion… (he’s been much better at adjusting to my way than the other way round).

  102. jane says...

    What is so enjoyable about this entire concept is reading how such diverse interests mean nothing when love and respect for each other take precedence. It’s so gratifying! Now let’s spread that kind of acceptance and interest around the world and go forward from there.

  103. Elly says...

    I think political and moral overlap is more important than anything else — as long as your politics/core values align, the rest is fungible.

    Aside from both being very liberal, my husband and I overlap on: Broadway musicals, traveling, spending quiet nights at home, board games, our pets and animals generally, visiting zoos, and Jeopardy!, among other things. He’s very scientific-minded, calculated, patient, and quiet; I’m all about the humanities, impulsive, and loud. If it works, it works!

  104. Kim, I have been loving your contributions to Cup of Jo!!! My boyfriend and I have complete opposite taste in movies and tv shows – or so I thought. He only watches documentaries and adult cartoons, I love indie films and sappy rom coms. However a year and half later I can say our opposite taste has been one of the best things about our relationship! I have learned so so much from being forced to watch his documentaries. And I am proud to say after much encouragement I got him to watch call me by your name – his reaction “that may be one of my favourite movies… ever”.

    • Claire says...

      I love that he watched Call Me By Your Name! I think it’s one of the most beautiful (both visually and intellectually) movies I’ve ever seen. I also have not one but two playlists of the soundtrack. One is the full thing (with all of the sad Sufjan Stevens songs) and the other is “Fun CMBYN” with the catchy dance songs. I listen to the latter all. the. time.

      For anyone looking for 34 minutes of fun, here’s the playlist:

      https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0nkp7Jbk4oZ1KhXwPrIAvP?si=5U6PlYJDRjm34_6-6U7szQ

  105. Kimberly says...

    My husband and I seem to have nearly nothing in common at first glance. Especially when we first got together: I was a longtime vegetarian, he had a bumper sticker that simply said ‘MEAT’; I was a full blown pacifist, him a gun-owner; he perceived me as “proper” and I thought he was a real “bad boy.” Our overlaps, initially, were only sense of humor and intense attraction. Neither of us were what the other expected or, frankly, even wanted for a life partner. Thank god we don’t always get what we want. He is everything I needed and so much more. Now, nine years into marriage, our overlap has grown a lot. Most importantly, now it includes that we admire and respect one another. And, my gosh, I still think he’s the hottest guy around.

    • Erin says...

      “I was a longtime vegetarian, he had a bumper sticker that simply said ‘MEAT’”

      HAHAHAHA, this was me and my husband when we met, also. I love Indian food, and he loves to cook, so one year he gave me an Indian cookbook as a gift. When I open it, he says (very seriously) “It’s a vegan cookbook, but very well reviewed. Don’t worry; we can add meat.” Oh, honey, I was not worried.

    • Kristiana says...

      I love this. Laughed out loud.

  106. Amy says...

    There is a moment in the movie Midnight in Paris where Owen Wilson says that he and his fiancee have a bit of a disconnect on the “important things” but they both like Indian food. It is such a poignant moment that it’s so important to not get caught up in the little things, but choose a partner with shared values.

    When my husband and I were dating, we worked our way through the book “100 Questions to Ask Before Marriage” and it was soooo helpful! Disclaimer: we didn’t actually read the book, just used the questions as prompts. It helped us find alignment on so many super important issues, everything from celebrating holidays to finances to future parenting issues and more. We know too many couples like Owen Wilson in that movie, and regularly talk about how glad we are to have chosen each other because of our connection on the “big things”! Although whenever he’s out of town, the first thing I do is order Indian food for myself haha.

    • Amy says...

      Oh wait, got the book title wrong — it’s 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged by Norman Wright!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      So fascinating that you did those questions! I want to try it.

    • Katie says...

      Another enthusiastic thumbs up for the Norman Wright book! My husband and I went through these questions when we were dating and they laid such a solid foundation of communication and understanding of one another for our future marriage. We have recommended this book to all of our friends in serious relationships and gifted it numerous times. Although the author is a Christian counselor, the questions are wide ranging (childhood experiences, perspectives on money, past relationships, family involvement, parenting styles, etc.) and applicable to anyone. Highly recommend!!

  107. A says...

    I love this so much! [also that amazing picture <3 ]

    My husband and I overlap with:
    – We're both big softies
    – Love of indie rock, and music in general
    – love of old stuff, and collections [vintage, records, video games]
    – EATING!
    – We are both creative souls with pragmatist brains

    Where we do NOT overlap:
    – He LOVES watching violent and somewhat disturbing movies and shows, and I can't do it! I favor cartoons and costume dramas.
    – I am a list-oriented project manager, and he is a "say what I feel, vibe on it" kind of person
    – I move fast and decisively, he moves slowly and considerately
    – I love fruit. He dislikes fruit and will not eat it.
    – I am cautious of new people and have a prickly shell. He gets along with pretty much everyone.

    It is amazing to have overlap, and also amazing to feel balanced by your partner. The things that can drive you bananas sometimes, can help meter you in other scenarios.

    • Claire says...

      How can you live your life with a man who dislikes fruit?!? Outrage! In all seriousness, your list is so sweet!

  108. Y says...

    Most people say “it’s the little things”, but in our marriage it’s the big things. We’re 8 years apart, one is East Coast, one is West, we listen to different music, like different movies and TV shows, one is a homebody and one likes to go out. The weird connection started when we met and felt like family. We both come from large families, are Catholic, grew up in Catholic schools and had Mother’s that were very involved at church. It was like we spoke the same language and had an immediate understanding of each other and our priorities. Our 22nd wedding anniversary is next month, so we’ll see how it goes. We also do have the exact same sarcastic sense of humor so there’s that!