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How Liking Different Styles of Music Can Affect Relationships

How do you react when Michelle is a professional freelance writer who loves music, poetry, pets, and the arts. She is a techno-geek as well.


Your mother screams at you to turn the volume of your speaker down, not being able to withstand the loudness of the heavy metal that you listen to. You do so grudgingly, and the two of you have a slightly tense relationship, at least for a certain period.

This scenario will be very familiar for some. Often, it stems from the necessary gelling of individuals and their very different tastes. In this case, it is taste in music.

We each have preferences when it comes to music and bring a different appreciation of it to the table. It is not surprising for you to like classical music while your friend, sibling, or even partner likes hard rock. Music, highly relatable, can be a binding force that strengthens or weakens relationships. I shall explain more as I write!

Why We Have Different Tastes in Music

Understanding how people develop different tastes in music is an interesting process. How is it that your brother can spend hours in his bedroom listening to pounding heavy metal while you close your ears with phones that have some easy listening tunes flowing through?

Tastes in music can be influenced by our upbringing

Certainly, if you grow up in a house full of musicians, it is likely that you will have the love of it in some form. This is not, of course, a sweeping observation.

But it is true in my case. I grew up having a guitarist father who tried to get me to like the piano. He frequently had the members of his band over to our house to rehearse. Unsurprisingly, I picked it up and taught music myself.

We like certain types of music because of the influence of people around us

For many teenagers, this is certainly true. It definitely happened in my classroom. One of the girls, a ringleader of sorts, idolized Justin Bieber. Consequently, many girls in the class followed suit and I had an entire section of the board at the back of the classroom devoted to him (fortunately, the principal did not fuss about this).

They watched many Bieber videos together after that. All because of the musical influence of one girl.

We are influenced by the music of our culture

I now take a look at how our musical whims are influenced by our cultures, speaking from the modern perspective of today. Whichever culture we grew up in has a large part to play in deciding what goes on our iTunes playlist these days. If we grew up in a family that listened mainly to Italian songs, it would not be surprising to find some of them, if not all, on the list. If you grew up in a Korean family, many K-Pop songs would make up that list.

Even with the advent of the MP4, YouTube, or my favorite, iTunes, this still holds a certain degree of truth. We can be influenced by the (modern) music of our cultures!

How Different Tastes in Music Affect Relationships

To a greater or lesser degree, musical taste can make an impact on relationships. Music does wield a lot of power, for many engaging reasons.

Music provides information about the other person

When a person tells you about his musical tastes, he tells you a lot about himself. If a person you have just been introduced to says he likes classical music, the next thought that comes to your mind might be, “Perhaps he can play an instrument” or “He must know at least a little about Beethoven.” If a person says he likes Hip Hop music, your next thought might be, “Maybe he likes dancing.”

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Music helps us get to know another person by letting us in on a little about them. In this way, it is a valuable, interactive tool.

In a study by Peter Rentfrow and Sam Gosling published in the Journal of Psychological science in 2006, college students getting to know each other through the internet were more likely to ask about the other person’s musical preferences than other topics. The same study also found that such knowledge helped them to predict the other person’s personality and values.

People tend to like those who share their musical tastes

We tend to develop a liking for the people who share our musical preferences because of the common ground that is forged.

In a study by Diana Boer, Ronald Fischer, Micha Strack, Michael Bond, Eva Lo, and Jason Lam published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people really did prefer those who shared their musical interests. A group of heavy metal and Hip Hop lovers were asked to evaluate the descriptions of people who had similar, different, or no stated musical preferences. They were also asked how similar they thought these people were to themselves.

Not surprisingly, people tended to like a person better when they shared similar musical tastes. These people also tended to have more similarities between them!

Music is a symbol of identity

Music is a symbol of identity and a unifying force. I use again the example of the girls in my class. They had unified themselves as a group of Justin Bieber lovers.

Music definitely brings two people together. A classic example is that of a couple identifying “our song,” gelling because of the similar feelings that the song gives them.

Music can also be a source of irritation in relationships

Just as it is a source of identity, music can also be a source of irritation. People are irritated when they are forced to give in to another person’s musical tastes and listen to their musical choices.

Take a mother who is constantly asking her teenage son to “turn the volume down” when he listens to his favorite techno track, something his mother, a die hard Beatles fan, has no inclination to listen to!

How Understanding Each Other’s Taste in Music Can Help Love Blossom

Knowing each other’s musical tastes can be the fertilizer that helps the flower of love to blossom. Such knowledge contributes to the growth of love in several ways.

It opens up the doors to conversations

Having similar interests or knowing the other party’s musical interests and therefore sometimes making allowances for them opens the doors to many conversations. When you find little to ask the other party while out on a date, talk about music and it is hard to go wrong.

It gives more date opportunities

Knowing each other’s musical tastes creates more excuses to go together to a mall to get favorite CDs, or to the restaurant where that nice song was being played. Music helps to create a date.

Emanates a positive aura

There is something about music that gives everyone a positive feeling. While it brings back many positive memories, it arouses our nervous system and gets us to be more productive and motivated. It encourages to take action and maintain a cheerful attitude.

It is an easy element to relate to

Music is the easiest element for you and your partner to relate to. It is universal and many people easily associate with it. So common is it to find crowds at concerts moved by the lyrics of a song. This is true for couples as well.

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.

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