Are Common Interests the Glue of Relationships?


“Two Horses In The Snow” by chrisroll. Image courtesy of

Do you ever feel that some relationships “get off the ground” more easily than others? Why do you think that is?

Unbreakable bonds stabilize and empower the rest of our community. But what does it take to develop those strong cords in the first place? This post continues our exploration of what it takes for our relationships to having staying power.

Some believe that in order for two people to develop a kind of point-of-no-return bond, you need to have something significant in common. If so, those with a significant shared history (such as those who grew up together), those with a non-trivial common interest, or those working together for the same passion or cause are the ones most likely to form stable bonds. The common ground is not itself sufficient, but it may be a Petri dish necessary for the relationship to overcome the inertia of disconnect.

Work relationships can be opportunities for developing lasting relationships. But it’s been my experience that even working with people regularly for years on a cause you both believe in is not sufficient for a stable bond to form. It may be the opportunity for such a relationship to begin, but other factors, such as interest in one another as whole persons, are necessary to go from friendly colleague to enduring relationship.

However, if you’re the boss, it can be almost impossible, and in some cases inappropriate, to develop mutual friendships with those who work for you. Furthermore, many who work for the same company don’t necessarily share the same passion for the value of that work. 

But if the work you do is truly a passion for you both and/or if you find other common ground with your colleague, you would automatically have the double advantage of both shared interests and regular, unforced time together

Negative common interests—those formed out of similar brokenness or pain as in groups like al-anon, divorce groups, etc.—can be the basis for a bond, but only temporarily. Ideally, our lives do not continue to be defined by our past brokenness indefinitely. To transfer those relationships to enduring bonds, we must find (or develop) positive common ground and history. 

What Do You Think?

To what extent do you think it’s possible to form a lasting bond with someone with whom you have no major common interests or significant history? What do you think it takes?

In your stage of life, to what extent is it a challenge to find people with whom you share common interests?

Comment below.


About Jess Mason

Jess Mason, M.A., M.Div. is a licensed minister, spiritual director, and director of the DeeperHope Institute for Women's Spiritual Life. She currently pastors the Wednesday Women's Community at Free Christian Church in Andover, MA. She lives in Haverhill, MA with her husband, Elliott.

One Comment

  1. Smita Donthamsetty

    To what extent do you think it’s possible to form a lasting bond with someone with whom you have no major common interests or significant history?

    I think this question is difficult, because there are several different factors combined into one question “lasting” with bond,” “no major common interests,” and “significant” with “history.” The “lasting bond” issue is interesting. I know people in Elias Pina always complain about how Americans only think about people in the short-term. There are some volunteers who have worked for Peace Corps or some other organization and 15 years after they have left, there are people who are still wondering about them and desiring to reconnect. I think there was a bond and some history but to those in E.P. whose lives are pretty much the same day in and day out, those were lasting and significant with some common interests, but I imagine that those Americans do not have the same perspective on those relationships.

    My personal experience is that it is difficult to form a lasting bond. It hasn’t been impossible as I do have random friends here and there. I met an Indian, female dentist at an Intervarsity grad school conference. I don’t even clearly remember the conversation, but I told her what I do and she asked to be on my mailing list. She gets my updates (which I think are a key factor) and a few times a year will write incredible emails in which I do feel an odd but lasting bond. We have no significant history and as far as I can tell, we have no major common interests, but I have appreciated the relationship I have with her. I would not consider her as part of my inner circle, and I think she would say the same. However, if we were in the same geographic place, I think we could be good friends.

    In your stage of life, to what extent is it a challenge to find people with whom you share common interests?
    Sometimes I think my interests are so different from most people I know here that it is a challenge, except of course for being a mother. I do find my closest relationships are with church people.

    Now that I have come to almost the end of my comments, I realize that the biggest common interest really is Jesus Christ who unites us. He can bring together even the most diverse types.

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