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Make Your Relationship Work

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It’s a question I get a surprising amount of the time: “My boyfriend is into [X] and I have no idea what [X] even is.  Help!”  It’s good when you want to take an interest in your significant other’s way of spending time that doesn’t involve you…just be warned that it may be a little boring if you’re not into it.

Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Wikipedia

First, we have to deal with the subtext of this question: “I’m afraid to ask my boyfriend about this because I’m afraid I’ll sound stupid.”  It’s a common problem.  For example, one of my hobbies is watching offbeat films: if it’s foreign or just flat-out weird (preferably both), I want to see it. Which is fine, but combined with my grad school requirements, means I’ve spent way too much time studying the history and criticism of foreign film, which means it’s pretty easy for me to strand any poor well-meaning soul who asks me what I’ve seen lately by mentioning some director only pretentious trolls like me have ever heard of.

This is where the wonders of the Internet come in; Wikipedia will have information about it, and will just as handily have links to sites with more information.  It’s a great way to get a good grounding.  But there’s nothing like hands-on experience.

Visit His Favorite Store

A friend of mine, let’s call him Gary, was looking to get closer to a guy he met at a singles mixer.  One problem: the guy in question was hugely into two things, the New England Patriots and collecting first editions of books.  The Patriots weren’t a problem, but edition collecting?  Problem.

One of the problems of any hobby is that it becomes a weird, insular subculture with its own slang and mores almost immediately.  The rabid sports fan is just as bizarre a creature as any Trekkie when it comes to figuring them out.  Edition collectors are nice, well-read people, but their hobby can be hard to grasp at first.  Gary had a real roadblock on his hands.

Fortunately, he knew where to find an antique bookshop, where he could talk to the owner about edition collecting, and even score his would-be boyfriend a cheap, but nice, gift.  Gary never really got into edition collecting, but he was able to carry on a conversation about it.  Oh, and the gift helped too.

Ask Him

Once you feel you have enough background to not feel dumb asking him questions…ask him questions.

People love talking about their hobbies, so asking about them is pretty much the best thing you can do.  Encourage him to go into detail.

And remember: this is a two-way street.  He may not be hugely interested in your hobbies; but he should at least be trying to learn more about them.

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