If You're Really Different Than Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend, Here's How It Could Affect Your Relationship
When I was in my last relationship, one of the things that was a big difference between my partner and I was that I am a big planner and he is not. And one important lesson I learned from that relationship is if you're really different than your boyfriend or girlfriend, you learn to adjust and compromise if you want to make the relationship successful. In that partnership (and this still rings true to this day), I had things planned out weeks — sometimes months — in advance. When he spontaneously wanted to take a midnight stroll through downtown Manhattan or explore Brooklyn during finals week to take a break from studying, I had to become comfortable with the discomfort to be adventurous and spontaneous with him. And he had to respect that we sometimes needed to plan things in advance — due to both my personal preference and also our packed school schedules.
This isn't the only thing that could be a major difference in a relationship. Things like different communication styles, food preferences, and upbringings can determine how you are in a relationship and can be a tool to learn together or apart. I reached out to other women to see what their biggest difference is with their partner, and how they deal with it. Read on to see their stories.
Something that could be a big culture shock in a relationship is if each person grew up in different countries.
"I often have to be a sort of translator of culture for him," Kayla*, 22, told Elite Daily about her boyfriend, who is from Albania. "In the way that things I experience growing up do not make sense so I have to explain. Playing things like heads up is difficult for us. In the same way he grew up in a different culture that he needs to explain to me what certain things effect him differently because of where he is from. Many times, this [led] us to fight a lot, especially at the beginning of our relationship."
Kayla grew up with a single mother, while her partner grew up with two parents in his life. Kayla was raised Catholic, while her partner was raised Muslim. Her boyfriend knows five languages, while she knows one, English.
"But despite the differences, the shared values is why we are still together," she says. "Plus the differences [are] something new that I get to learn about and same with him."
The biggest difference between Keshia, 26, and her boyfriend is their love languages. Keshia describes hers as words of affirmation and physical touch, while her partner's are acts of service and quality time.
"It's taken us a good chunk of time to figure out how to incorporate each other's language but I'm glad we did," Keshia tells Elite Daily. "We had a conversation about it and he simply stated that for him being in the same vicinity as me and spending time with me was enough for him. He didn't know that that wasn't he same for me. All it took was having that conversation for both of us to try and incorporate our languages into our relationship. That's not to say it wasn't hard work (because it was!), but it did take both of us learning to be more mindful of each other. Now, when we sit on the couch, he sits closer and tends to be more cuddly, and I tend to do little things around his house such as straightening up and making the bed, which he really appreciates!"
Many couples enjoy watching TV shows together. But if you have different watching habits, like how many episodes you like to watch in a day, that could be difficult.
"I love binge-watching shows (like [I] finish most seasons in a day) and it’s a miracle if [my boyfriend] will watch more than one episode of something in a day," Chelsea, 26, tells Elite Daily. "Yet, he insists on making me wait to watch almost every show with him. Currently, we’re watching like 12 shows. And I’m painstakingly unable to binge any of them, but especially The Americans right now, which is literally killing me."
Michelle, 27, and her boyfriend had different upbringings. Michelle grew up with two sisters and a brother, while her boyfriend has a brother and a sister.
"The dynamics are so different," Michelle tells Elite Daily. "My sisters and I are strong and passionate ([and] a bit loud, TBH) while he and his siblings grew up pretty chill and not as close-knit as I [was] with my sisters. [My sisters and I are] even thinking of getting a sister tattoo together! I didn't actually realized the difference until we moved in together."
Michelle says that acknowledging their different upbringings allows her to recognize her partner's perspective better.
"Obviously, it took some time for us to realize this," she says. "After numerous talks during our relationship of four years, we've come to [realize] what kind of family we want and [an] idea of how we want to raise our children. We can't control the gender of our future children or how many (for the most part) we will have. But this realization helps us work on the values and habits now that we would like to encourage and have when we raise a family."
Differences in a relationship don't have to be a bad thing. They can help you learn more about your partner and yourself, and make you stronger as a couple and as individuals.
*Name has been changed at the source's request due to privacy.