Things in Common vs. Emotional Availability


Recently, I made a major change in my life and this meme pretty much sums it up. With each *experience* in my life, I learn a tiny bit more about the difference between having things in common with someone versus true, rich and fulfilling emotional availability. Having both is nice, but without the latter, you’re not going to wind up happy.

I knew a couple, happily married for about a decade, who fought like cats and dogs every weekend. He loved to watch football (at home, with friends, various settings etc) and she couldn’t stand it. They were like night and day when it came to their feelings about the sport. So, every Friday, the argument would begin to escalate, snarky comments about her “Sunday being ruined” and his having to “listen to her nag about the game”. By Sunday evening, both people were miserable and not speaking to each other.

They wound up not divorcing or splitting up, which surprised me. I never asked how they resolved things, but one day she came to me and told me how. She realized one day that she would have two choices when it came to football. She would have to be understanding and realize that this is something he loved. He didn’t love antique shopping, but she loved it dearly. So, instead of nagging him on Sunday, she would make plans to either have a girl’s day out, shopping for antiques and eating lunch, or otherwise make plans that allowed them to BOTH enjoy their hobbies.

Imagine that: COMPROMISE. They both “got their way” and on Sunday evening, they had something to talk about. He would be in a good mood after relaxing with friends watching the game and she was rested and happy after a fun day with the girls. They were both able to be emotionally available to each other after reconnecting that evening. She could be supportive of his hobby and he could also in return. So, it’s possible to not have things in common and still have a close, emotional attachment and availability with someone.


In my case, the situation I dealt with had more to do with having things in common, but a very one-sided emotional availability. As the giver of emotional support and never receiving proper, mature emotional support in return, only having things in common will not have the strength required to maintain a healthy and productive interaction/relationship/friendship. It passes time and provides diversion, but having things in common alone cannot carry a relationship. Liking the same shows, sports, hobbies and the like is NOT enough on its own.

There are so many reasons why someone comes into your life who is not emotionally available to you. Their upbringing may have lacked seriously in quality, nurturing and support, leaving someone uneducated and devoid of the skills needed, they may just be selfish by nature and you don’t discover this until it’s too late and YOU’VE become emotionally invested, making it harder to pull away. There are many ways this person could arrive in your life this way.

If you believe that you can change someone, that is where so many people go wrong and wind up miserable and unhappy. When it comes to undesirable behaviors and traits, if someone is ready to become emotionally available with you, they will seek out ways on their own to better themselves. One shouldn’t have to nag someone to shower every day or pick up after themselves. Noticing, respecting and reacting to the emotional cues and needs of your partner is essential to growing respect, quality interaction and happy lives.

Sadly, it can take some people a long time to come to terms with their partner’s unwillingness to change. In a one-sided emotional existence, the person always giving keeps trying, unsuccessfully, to convince the person to change. Once they’ve given up, they find it quite easy to dwell on the time they’ve wasted and eventually come to terms with the fact they are not going to change and you now need to exercise your right to decide how much a part someone will be in your life.


Pardon the language, but I found this to be SO PERFECT for what I’m trying to say. Even the person who refuses to change will go out of their way to defend their ways and even go so far as to start blaming you for wanting too much or expecting perfection. At that point, at least in my personal experience, it’s time to move on. Perhaps one day that person will see the error of their ways and find themselves wanting. However, it really needs to not be your problem anymore.

Sure, you will probably take the time to mull over if you could have done something differently, but in my case, moving on has left me lighter, happier and less stressed over all the little, insignificant things that were making me unhappy. Is it a process? You bet it is and it doesn’t resolve itself overnight, but over time, you will discover that allowing sleeping dogs to lie is the best course of action.

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