This letter appeared as Dan Savage’s SL Letter of the Day yesterday:
I guess my question is more a general relationship question than a sex question, but…
How much are we obligated to adopt our partner’s interests to be a good partner? I’ve been with my husband for almost three years. I love him a lot, and respect him; he’s one of the smartest people I know. However… pretty much all of his interests are WAY over my head. When I met him, he was in his final years completing his PhD. in neurobiology. After graduation he started teaching himself computer programming and got a job doing web security. Now, pretty much ALL he ever talks about is super hard, super complicated computer shit. I’m seriously talking 6 solid months of talking non-stop about programming languages and website vulnerabilities. I’m talking like, hours a day lectures that I barely understand, my knowledge of the internet being limited to updating my status on Facebook.
I’ve tried valiantly to understand it, but usually I’m lost within the first couple sentences and spend the rest of the “conversation” trying to just nod at the appropriate times and not show how bored I am. If I don’t do this, he gets super hurt and offended, acts like I’m rejecting him as a person, acts distant, and denies me sex and affection. I understand that he’s trying to get close to me by sharing things he’s excited about, but honestly, I am NEVER going to understand computer programming, and I’m starting to deeply resent that I’m even being asked to. I feel terribly guilty about it, but I actually try to avoid talking to him sometimes because it’s so likely that I’ll be subjected to an hours-long computer science lecture. Trying to ask questions to understand it better just results in longer and more complicated lectures. He criticizes me for my “lack of curiosity” but… am I really obligated to be curious about everything he’s into? He doesn’t seem particularly interested in any of MY interests, none of which are “technical” enough to sustain his interest. He’s a good person, but I’m going nuts here. Am I being a jerk, or is it reasonable to ask that some topics are kept to a minimum?
And this letter appeared in Dear Prudence’s advice column today:
I’m married to a gorgeous younger woman. When she appeared to have interest in me, I was flattered and shocked, and I decided to make it permanent if she would have me. We were married after a short romance. Now, a year into the relationship, I am having serious second thoughts. As it turns out (actually, I knew this from the beginning), she’s not particularly interesting or, and I hate to say this, bright. I’m no Einstein, but I have a degree in computer science and am knowledgeable about economics and other intellectual pursuits. She loves reality TV. Now here I am, barely able to have a conversation with the woman to whom I am married. I don’t want a divorce, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life watching The Bachelor. Is there a middle path that allows me to continue my marriage (the sex is incredible) while not forcing me to give up on having a stimulating partner with whom I can share my interests? Or am I forever condemned to being married to an incredibly hot woman for whom I have not an iota of intellectual respect?
—I Married for Lust