Skip to main content

What Is Most Important in Relationships? Interests or Values?

Courtney is a freelance writer and mother who likes to write about important life moments, marketing, and travel.

What is more important for lasting relationships? Shared interests or shared values? It turns out that, in the long run, values are profoundly important. Read on to find out why.

What is more important for lasting relationships? Shared interests or shared values? It turns out that, in the long run, values are profoundly important. Read on to find out why.

Do Opposites Really Attract?

I have been married to my high school sweetheart for ten years. There’s a sense of comfort and routine that accompanies a commitment of that length. When we first met, we couldn’t have been more opposite.

He was the outgoing theater star who loved to keep up with sports while I was the quiet and shy bookworm already thinking about applying to universities while still in my freshman year. At first, those differences attracted us to each other and were the impetus in our interest.

Scientists reveal that while the phrase “opposites attract” might be true in some instances, what’s really at play is an underlying tension. When we meet someone who challenges us and stretches our idea of the norm, our eyes are opened and possibilities that seemed closed off before suddenly seem within reach.

For instance, I never pictured myself on stage at a high school musical. I was much more comfortable behind the scenes, zipping up costumes and helping to re-apply actor makeup. Yet, when I first met my future husband, he pulled a few strings and got me a side part in our school’s production of “Grease” that year.

It was nerve-wracking and I was horrified at first, but it ended up being one of the highlights of that season of life for me. It got me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to expand my horizons a little.

Likewise, I introduced him to country music, novellas, and my favorite author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He graduated with a deeper appreciation for the arts and culture than he’d had before.

While shared interests are great for initial attraction and getting to know someone, if you and your partner don't share similar values, your relationship will be built on a shaky foundation.

While shared interests are great for initial attraction and getting to know someone, if you and your partner don't share similar values, your relationship will be built on a shaky foundation.

Interests vs. Values: What Does It Mean?

While I share that story to reveal that there are indeed instances where opposites are attracted to each other, it’s important to also note that while individual interests might vary, for a relationship to last for the long-term, there have to be mutual, shared values.

That means that one partner might love swing dancing, chick flicks and staying up late, while the other prefers action movies, watching baseball and going to bed early. Still, they should agree on the “big” stuff in life, like their future plans for children, where they want to live, and what they ultimately want.

Do Opposites Really Attract Forever? Science Says "No"

Remember the science behind opposites attracting? More research reveals that’s primarily a surface-level infatuation.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Pairedlife

Yes, we’re drawn to people who are different because as a species, we simply like to learn about viewpoints and interests that are different from ours. It’s why we’re drawn to magicians who push boundaries, celebrities who live more lavishly than we could even imagine, and anyone else who appears to be more exciting or interesting than us.

Still, studies show that people do not form strong partnerships or friendships with people whose values, prejudices, and views are different from theirs.

When researchers first made this discovery, it was essentially a paradigm shift in how we view relationships. For so long, the notion of the good girl being attracted to the bad boy was an image we held true, yet no one checks in on that rebellious couple 20 years down the road when school is over, bills are due and babies are crying.

If the bad boy is still out riding motorcycles, partying until dawn and rebuking authority, chances are the good girl isn’t sticking around. Why? Because that surface-level attraction has waned and real life has set in. The picture they’d painted of a life together isn’t as ideal as they’d first imagined, because their core values were so opposing.

Conducting a study of more than 1,500 random pairs spanning romantic relationships, friendships, and acquaintances, researchers asked each one to list their core beliefs, values and personality traits. The results revealed that all the pairs had similar outlooks and life views linking them together, even if they had just met each other.

I don't think opposites attract. I think like attracts like. So, I don't think that they do attract—opposites. Only when you're talking about magnetic poles.

— Ashton Kutcher

Strong Foundation, Strong Relationship

So, what are core values and how can you determine if you share them with your significant other? In essence, these are the beliefs that make up the foundation of your being. They include such aspects as your:

  • Religion
  • Political beliefs
  • Career goals and choices
  • Lifestyle
  • Hobbies, interests, and ways you spend your free time

Love That Stands the Test of Time

These may have been instilled in you in childhood, or you may have developed them over the course of your lifetime. Regardless, they direct your actions whether you realize it or not, and they’re a big part of what makes you unique.

They also directly influence your conscience. When you do something that goes against your core values, you feel it in your gut and become uncomfortable. Thus, if you’re linked to someone who’s always putting you in that awkward and compromising position, chances are low that the relationship will continue to flourish.

Successful couples are those who connect on that deep level and share those core values that can propel them into the future. Then, at the end of the road when it’s just you two left when the kids have grown up and left the house, hobbies have extinguished, and there’s nothing but two rocking chairs on the front porch, you’ll have that common bond to fall back on. That’s a love that will last, and stand the test of time.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Related Articles