Interests and Spheres of Curiosity

Take a moment and think of your friends. Then make a mental list of their core interests. Tally them up. Then do the same for yourself. For many people there will be three or four interests: work, a passion project, friends, perhaps relationships, children, or their family if they have one. It’s normal. They’ve also likely got one or two other key interests that may not be actively nurtured but which are somewhat present. When I make my list, I end up with more than thirteen. These are areas of passion

and interest that I engage with at least once a week in some primary capacity or another. When I look at my network, many of my closest friends similarly have numerous spheres of curiosity—often double or triple the three or four that I find is most common.

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This isn’t relevant because one is superior to the other. It’s not a question of intelligence, or of accomplishment. It’s simply a way of better understanding where we place our priorities and choose to spend our time. It’s a look at what we value as individuals and how we relate to the world around us. It is in indicator of compatability.

When it comes to dating, this has suddenly helped me better understand and convey why I’m often relatively uncompromising in my search for a long-term partner. I’ve learned that when I’m mismatched interest and curiosity-wise, the relationship will almost without fail be more companion than partner in nature. In the past this has created false positives for me when I found women who were incredibly intelligent, gifted, and driven, but who were also highly specialized and focused on three to five spheres of curiosity.

As I seek a partner, what I’m simultaneously seeking is a woman that is similarly scattered and eclectic in her interests. This suggests a woman that similarly harbors eleven, thirteen, or perhaps even more, core spheres of interest. Of these, at least half need to overlap with my own. From this plurality of interests and the diversity that comes with them, we gain a robust latticework upon which we can build a partnership where we can learn and be challenged by each other in a two-directional, balanced flow of ideas and experiences.

This is not to say that you can’t have partnerships that share a more typical number of spheres of curiosity—I think they’re quite common, especially with fields and people that are highly specialized. Similarly, while perhaps less common, it is absolutely also possible to have fantastic relationships where both individuals have a large spectrum of spheres of curiosity but still value and thrive in a companion-based relational dynamic.

And that, at the heart of it, is the key. I don’t think one approach is any better than another. The important thing is to know your own personal preference and what you need. There is, however, a significant amount of cultural pressure that constantly pushes against the added diversity of a more complex match.

At the end of the day, I have also accepted that finding a woman that I have a strong physical and social chemistry with, who also shares a desire for a partner dynamic and harbors a wealth of interests and spheres of curiosity, is no simple task. Often, I’ve been told by friends—male and female alike—that it is unrealistic and that I’m being obstinate. But, I have time, and though other factors stand as obstacles, I’ve encountered women that meet many of my criteria, so I remain confident, optimistic, and comfortable as I continue my search.

Of late I’ve also come to realize why the two most common and dogged pieces of advice I’ve been given don’t fit. These are either that I’m being unrealistic and must settle, or that my expectations are unreasonable and what I should really do is find a woman that has the potential to be what I’m seeking and then work to craft her into what I want. While I speak to both from a male perspective, I know female friends often face both of these messages but with significantly more explicit and direct feedback from their family, friends, and culture at large. I reject the first outright as utter tomfoolery. There’s something to be said for the second at some limited level. However, only in a mutual and gradual evolution that is constructive while engaging with a true partner. It is not some strategic chess-strategy in which I assume the role of parent, teacher, or strategic manipulator attempting to control and shape another person to my desire and will.

The truth here goes back to a common thread throughout this blog—curiosity is a fundamental way of viewing and engaging with the world. It has wonderful rewards but also brings with it complications. One of which is often how best to convey our differing needs to people who have conflicting priorities, who may not share a burning curiosity, or a wide range of different spheres of interest.

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