In the world of dating and relationships, most people assume that the way to connect with someone is simple, and people focus on it. Dating apps are based around. Matchmakers build entire businesses on it.
The problem is that science (and most people’s experience) shows that this factor doesn’t even play a major role in attraction, dating, or necessarily in long-term relationships (although it has more importance the longer the relationship plays out).
What is it?
Before I tell you I want to share a story. When I had a relationship drought in my late teens and early twenties (Another name for that drought is “my late teens and early twenties”), the advice I got to meet eligible girls was to “join clubs.”
So what is it that everyone thinks is important but isn’t?
Yep, get it out of your head that common interests are super important to getting a date, because I’m going to be the one person out there who is going to tell you the truth, which is that they’re not really that important.
The reason I told you the story above is that I can safely say that joining clubs when I was a boring, overweight, uptight, and insecure college student did nothing to help me find a date. No matter what level of common interests I had with those people couldn’t make up for my lack attractiveness.
Yet, whether you’re filling out your online dating profile, comparing your OK Cupid “match percentage,” or your friends are trying to set you up, “common interests” almost always play into it strategy.
A lot of single people make the mistake of assuming that having common interests with someone means that something romantic will grow between them and someone else.
I’ve even seen a lot of guys fake common interests to attract their female friends, like pretending to like The Dave Matthews Band or loving “chick flicks.” Or I’ve known girls who think their love of football should mean guys are lined up to date them.
The reality is that while common interests are nice, and probably do create better relationships, attraction doesn’t work that way. Common interests are logical and situated in those parts of the brain.
Attraction is emotional and occurs in older parts of the brain we share with animals. You can’t logically “think” your way into attraction. Sharing common interests isn’t going to create a romantic connection.
Common interests are great for friendship and can deepen an already existing attraction. But, they are simply not romance and chemistry inducing.
This may explain why a strongly Republican girl is more likely to date an attractive Democrat than an unattractive, but strongly Republican guy, or why so many strong Christians end up dating people who barely set foot in a church on Sunday.
Scientific studies show that a far better indicator of romantic compatibility isn’t common interests, but similar levels of attractiveness, especially if you develop a strong romantic connection early on (versus starting as friends first, where similar attractiveness is less important).
If you want a date with that hot guy who is just as into Twenty One Pilots as you, or that beautiful girl whom you see reading your favorite author at the student union, the answer isn’t to listen to more Twenty One Pilots (as great as they are) or buy more books (even though that is good too!), so you can have more to talk about. The answer definitely isn’t to send a long text explaining your interest and how that means you should go on a date.
The scientific answer is to make yourself more attractive, physically and in your personality development. Then, after you have created a romantic emotional bond, you can enjoy those common interests as more than just friends.
It is beyond the scope of this article to help you become more attractive, but our entire website, The Popular Man, is devoted to this very concept.