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How Liking Different Styles of Music Can Affect Relationships

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, 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.”

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.


Treathyl FOX from Austin, Texas on May 02, 2014:

Music is medicine for the mind. I can't explain it. I just know it works for me. Excellent HUB!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on November 16, 2013:

That sounds good! Yes, approach it with open-mindedness. We may not like the same things...but are on the same page, and that's what's important.

whosbaad on November 08, 2013:

Great post! im in NZ & love music, love dancing, love 90s hip hop, rnb, neo pop, 80s pop, glam rock, alternative reggae & even a bit of country. but the guy im into doesn't dance & is into rock i think. ive always thought that relationships can't work if you don't have the same or similar taste in music. your article made me realize that the appreciation of music itself is what we have in common & gave me a more open minded attitude. thank you! S

MickeySr from Hershey, Pa. on August 04, 2013:

. . . and yet - there can be an unexplainable component to how certain music gets into us and how we can be drawn to certain music. I love American Blues music, and I love Rock & Roll & Pop & Rock, etc, as much as it maintains it's Blues origins and flavor - so, I love bands like Cream & The Allman Brothers a lot, but not so much bands like Journey or The Eagles . . . yet, there's really no discernible reason for this. I was raised in a house that even knew what Blues music was, and I grew-up in a culture (the 60s) where all my peers we happy to listen to Led Zeppelin & Hendrix with no recognition of the Blues influence in their music . . .

. . . why did I, among all my friends, favor 'the slow' song on every Rock LP, why did that minor key appeal to me, why did I start recognizing the song writing credits of 'Willie Dixon' & 'McKinley Morganfield' (Muddy Waters) and search for their own recordings? Eric Clapton once reflected in an interview that it made no sense, why would a White kid in England, and art student just outside London, become a Blues fanatic - and I feel the same way, why would a White kid in Hershey Pa when Black Sabbath & Queen are on the radio collect records by Lightening Hopkins & Blind Willie McTell?

Sometimes, with some people, it's not the influences of your upbringing or the sway of your culture - sometimes, with some people, it's just in them . . . and like John Lee Hooker said ~

"One night I was layin' down,

I heard mama 'n papa talkin'

I heard papa tell mama, let that boy boogie-woogie,

It's in him, and it got to come out

And I felt so good,

Went on boogie'n just the same"

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on April 04, 2013:

Thanks, Epi!! Am going to check Jacques Loussier out. Thanks for sharing!

epigramman on April 04, 2013:

Hello Michelle and good afternoon from lake erie time ontario canada 12:33pm and I always adore (and learn) from your music hub presentations as I am quite a musicologist myself.

I love all of the variations on Fur elise here.

My general rule of thumb is NO Led Zeppelin before 12noon (unless the party is still on, lol) .... I always start my day with classical music and then graduate into light jazz.

Jazz I find is great to write to and I am often inspired by instrumental music for writing (like soundtrack music) and yes I can tell this hub (as all of your music hubs) is truly a labor of love.

I am sending to you my warmest wishes and good energy and I would highly recommend Jacques Loussier, a jazz pianist who plays variations on classical music like Bach.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on March 18, 2013:

Thanks, naresh4U.

Surya from Tirupati on March 18, 2013:

nice hub.....thanks for ur hub

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on March 12, 2013:

Mutual tolerance is indeed the key! Thanks for sharing!

LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on March 12, 2013:

I stopped liking a girl that I was dating once ... We were in the car, she looked at my radio and smiled, saying, "You know ... I've learned to tolerate your music" ... That was in 1995 ... She's still single to this day.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on March 10, 2013:

Yes, it does, Vinaya. A hard rock lover tends to prefer things a little on the edge.......classical music lovers tend to be drawn to the quiet and calm. Thanks for sharing!

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on March 08, 2013:


I also believe our taste for certain type ofmusic defines our personality. Music has tremendous impact in our life. Thanks for pointing some of the important influences music makes in our relationship.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on March 05, 2013:

Hi Glim, so do me and mine! But we do enjoy the atmosphere at whatever musical concert we go to. Thanks for sharing!

Claudia Mitchell on March 05, 2013:

I had to laugh when I read this title. My husband and I have completely opposite tastes in music, but it all works out in the end. We both go to concerts we normally never would.

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on March 01, 2013:

Glad you like them, Kathi. I think videos are best not shown in small windows on hubs....will take note and edit!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on March 01, 2013:

Exactly, Alecia! It unites us in a way nothing else can. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on March 01, 2013:


Kathi Mirto from Fennville on February 28, 2013:

Very interesting, I like three versions of Fur Elise too. I couldn't view two of the videos cause it says the video player is too small. I don't know if its because you don't use the full screen or if that has anything to do with it. Thought I'd let you know. Take care, Kathi :O)

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on February 28, 2013:

I think you have a good point. Music does unite us in a way few other things can- I feel like I know more about a person from their music tastes than anything else. Great hub!

Surya from Tirupati on February 28, 2013:


Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on February 27, 2013:

It's all about compromise, & everything works out! Thanks for sharing, Carol!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on February 27, 2013:

Great that we bond over song, isn't it, Janine? Thanks for sharing, blessings to you and Kevin!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on February 27, 2013:

Oh, those genres I like, Bill! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on February 27, 2013:

Thanks, Eddy!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on February 27, 2013:

Yes, relationships that do not focus on God are difficult to manage. Thanks, Lastheart!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on February 27, 2013:

Thanks Cristina! Fur Elise is a perennial favorite!! All different versions of them!

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on February 27, 2013:

Thanks, Ruchira! Love 'em both too!

Ruchira from United States on February 27, 2013:

Well said, Michelle.

I enjoy a mixture of country and jazz. :)

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on February 27, 2013:

This is going to be on my list of favorite articles. I like your analogy on the subject and love all the versions of Fur Elise.

Well done Michelle! Up, across and sharing.

Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord on February 27, 2013:

I can relate to this. That is why couples need God in the middle of their relations. Great article!

Eiddwen from Wales on February 27, 2013:

A brilliant share Michelle;I loved it and vote up,across and share.


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 27, 2013:

Well color me rock n roll, and if that says something about me well there you go. Mix in a little country western and you have a profile of Bill. :)

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on February 27, 2013:

Michelle, you reminded me of my teen years where I would listen to grudge rock and so much more loudly in my room with my door closed and how this would drive my dad crazy. So true though about music and how it can affect your relationships. I love music even to this day and will sometimes listen while I write. Kevin and I have similar tastes at times and think that helped to bring us closer together, too when we were first dating by going to concerts and such. Great post and very much relate. Have of course voted and shared all over!!

carol stanley from Arizona on February 27, 2013:

How interesting. My husband and I like different music..a few overlaps like classical, country and some rock. He adores big band and jazz...both of which I can do without. However there is no problem in the car as he listens to talk radio..and he does get the choice at home...during the day...However we still have a fine relationship...Great and voting up and pinning..

Michelle Liew (author) from Singapore on February 27, 2013:

Understanding how different tastes in music can affect relationships and how this knowledge can be used to help love to blossom.

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