Musings: Music Taste Being A Deal Breaker

FYI: This post has nothing to do (even tangentially) with design. Scroll on down past this wall o’ text.

I may be preaching to the choir, here. Graphic designers as a group are some of the most opinionated people I know concerning music. I have some (admittedly, probably common) theories as to why that is, but that would take up a whole ‘nother blog post.

The debate is this. Should differing tastes in music be a deal breaker in a blossoming relationship?

Today while perusing my Facebook feed, NPR posted the article that got me thinking on this subject (not for the first time). Here is the article in question. Now, I can never resist good, polarizing topics such as these. And even better is the comments section (which usually goes for a good half-hour in a frothy frenzy, then slows down). It was vedy intedesting to see the reactions of NPR’s generally music-savvy followers.

The conclusion that I’ve come to, over my EXTENSIVE 5 years (or so) of dating and relationship experience, is that it can (and should) vary by person, like any other preference in a preferred partner. Many people were stating it was, indeed, a deal breaker. Others were taking issue with this, expressing that such a snap judgement was shallow and superficial, and that other traits were much more important. Still others were very aptly pointing out that this was a “first world problem.” I can agree with that, but still think it can warrant discussion.

Concerts, car rides… music comes up. And I felt the need to point out that it’s not indifference to their taste (say for example, dubstep doesn’t bother you, you could take it or leave it), it’s actively HATING the music they enjoy (for example, commonly polarizing genres like pop, heavy metal, rap or country. Or dubstep.).

If music is very important to you, it’s one of those things you DO care about in a relationship. If music is not so important, then groovy! Terrible pun intended.

Is disliking someone because of the genre of books they read considered shallow, if reading is an important hobby for you? Say, vampire romances, to choose another polarizing (sub) genre. How about grooming and style choices? What if they dress very scantily, and you’re not into that? Say their sense of humor is extremely crude, and you have a more “refined” sense of humor? Or vice versa?

And to approach it from the other side: to you, music is not of much import. Discovering new music is the job of the radio. Top 40 is cool with you. And you start dating someone that insists that you come to concerts with them, you give their favorite band one more listen, they endlessly talk about how they loved a band far before they achieved fame, they make fun of you for your “pedestrian tastes,” (I’m sure we’ve all encountered someone like this in real life or on the internet, dear reader, no matter how varied and eclectic your tastes may be). I could see that destroying a relationship.

I suppose it’s all about extremes.

Music taste in general is one of those things that people automatically label as snobby in general (I’ve avoided the word hipster this entire post, but there you go, I said it)… therefore if it’s something one looks for in a partner, it can be seen as shallow. But we all look for certain surface-level traits in potential partners whether people acknowledge it or not. And yeah, maybe these judgments are all superficial, but those things matter a lot when at least initially looking for a mate. Looking for common ground is what we all do when getting to know someone.

TL;DR Do what you want!

As for my personal take on this… I would like my hypothetical boyfriend to enjoy similar music to my tastes, but I have other interests, so no. Not a deal breaker for me personally.


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