How to Have Fun With Your Specialist Partner (Yes, It’s Possible)

How to Have Fun With Your Specialist Partner (Yes, It’s Possible)

Written by Guest Contributor

Topics: Support

My partner has known what he wanted to do with his life since he was in sixth grade. He entered college with a very specific career in mind, revolving around the thing he loves most: video games. A few years later he was working in the industry in a very prestigious role.

Although his day job is different now, he is still focused on video games: volunteering at events, freelancing, playing games in his free time and making friends with people who like the same things he does. He has a couple other hobbies, but he has never felt the urge to branch out, or gotten restless at the idea of being pigeonholed.

While that might seem like a pretty reasonable journey, for those of us who have never settled on a single path, the idea of entering and exiting college with one career in mind can be mind-boggling. And to still be singularly focused on the same passion 10 years later? Is that a thing people do?!

It is if you’re a specialist.

Sometimes I envy his singular focus. But mostly, I’ve just been been baffled by my partner’s ability to laser-focus his interest on just one thing for life. Granted, that doesn’t mean he’s boring or that he can’t do anything else. He loves to create videos and write articles and record podcasts—but they’re all happily focused on video games and pop culture.

Meanwhile, I’m over here obsessing over how I’m going to turn my comics into a real career, while also desperately wanting to: learn taxidermy, find a way to get my master’s in education, and build a successful career as a freelance writer. It’s a story that probably sounds more familiar here on Puttylike.

When it comes to actually finding common ground with my partner and enjoying life together, the struggle is all too real. When we fail at it, it feels like we have nothing in common. I’m usually going in five directions at once… and none of them are in the same direction that he’s been moving his entire life.

So we’ve had to work really hard at it. We’ve learned that connecting requires intentionality, compromise, and communication. In the brief windows of time we find between raising our two small kids, we’ve found some ways to have fun together while still celebrating our differences. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Food brings people together

We love to go out together! While it doesn’t happen as often during these early parenthood days that we’re in, it’s always been a special treat that we enjoy. Trying a new restaurant with your specialist partner is a great way to branch out, in a fun setting that feels “safe” for someone who isn’t always gung-ho about novel experiences.

It’s generally easy to find something on a menu that even the most routine-oriented and change-resistant individual will like, and even a bad restaurant experience can bring the two of you closer together with a funny story you can tell for years.

Have a standing agreement to support one another’s interests

This is an important agreement for every partnership, but it’s especially essential in relationships between a specialist and a multipotentialite. I wholeheartedly support my partner’s desire to pursue what gets him excited, and vice versa. We give one another time to get away and spend time on the interests we have that don’t overlap.

So he knows that I won’t complain if he disappears for a Saturday to play DnD with his buddies or attends a couple of weekend conventions throughout the year. I know that in turn, he’ll be enthusiastic for me when I want to go spend an afternoon drawing live bugs in a downtown art studio, or spontaneously spend an entire weekend building a fairy garden in the backyard. This has to be a two-way street in order for both partners to feel supported.

Multipotentialite partners have to be intentional about slowing down (sometimes a Netflix binge is okay)

After a long day in the marketing agency world, my partner likes to chill out and watch YouTube videos. But like so many other multipotentialites, slowing down makes me itchy. There’s too much to do, try, and experience and I generally have multiple projects going at once. Passively taking in media can sometimes make me feel like I’m wasting my time.

But I’ve learned (okay, I’m still learning) that sometimes it’s important to just BE together and not divide our focus. Well, as much as we can with two small kids!

He often bribes me to sit down for a while by enticing me with a back rub, which he knows I am unable to refuse. And between YouTube and Netflix, we can find something we’ll both enjoy. My partner’s tank is filled when we spend time together just chilling out, and I find that a little rest for my mind and body does wonders for my energy levels.

Being partnered to a specialist who doesn’t really “get” your unique way of looking at and experiencing the world can be rough. As in all relationships, all it takes for feelings to get hurt and resentment to start building is poor communication and an unwillingness to compromise. Fortunately, the solution is simply being honest and open with one another, being willing to give more than you take, and maintaining a sense of humor!

If you’re partnered with a specialist and you’ve never had a conversation about what makes the two of you different in terms of how you learn and pursue your passions, perhaps you can start with a link to Emilie’s TED talk and an invitation to go out for dinner to chat about it. With communication and intentionality, your specialist partner can be a supportive and grounding force in your life.

Your Turn

Are you or have you ever been partnered with a specialist? How did you find ways to connect? Share your story and tips in the comments below!

Sharayah Pranger is a freelance marketing content specialist and mom of two by day and a comic artist by night. You can see her comics at babysheepcomics.com or feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn. She’s still figuring out what she wants to be when she grows up, but there will definitely be art involved!

9 Comments

  1. Laura says:

    Loved this article. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  2. Amy Watkins says:

    Yep. Married to an electrical engineer whose hobbies are riding his motorcycle and scuba diving. That’s it. He often thinks that I’ve got too much going on, but I do my best to explain to him how I’m trying to focus myself, and he supports me. I scuba dive as well, and we have TV shows that we watch together. We also both love traveling. So we make it work, and he grounds me like a hand holding the string to my balloon.

  3. Cat says:

    Great article, thanks! My specialist partner and I both love what he loves, which has been wonderful for the 7 years that we’ve been together. But I’ve been getting twitchy, considering leaving the relationship, as I’ve felt my assorted needs aren’t being met. After watching Emilie’s TED Talk, he and I discussed how I can do more varied things that I love and he doesn’t. Fortunately, it’s working, I’m no longer feeling stifled, and we’re both happier because of it.

  4. Joe says:

    My partner said this is the most exciting subject yet for puddypeeps, She is well grounded in her life and lets me experiment with my interests. This sometimes leads to me being away from home for up to 9 months a year. Her support helps by providing a base of operation so i don’t get lost in all that excitement of discovery. Flexibility in a relationship is the key, both party’s need time and space to grow.

  5. Camelia says:

    I do not understand this struggle, I tought that we are attracted by people with whom we can resonate and sharing time together comes naturally.
    My boyfriend is a specialist too and I feel that we both have a similar level of intelligence, but of a different type. This makes us to resonate. In our shared time together, we are not building our career, but we make activities that bring us joy. With the exception, when he helped me to begin a career in computer programming. It was a period when we both had the same job (computer programming), so it is also not difficult to have a conversation about his job. And not also about my current job, that it is still in the IT field, although different of what is he doing. Even when I experienced other careers, we had no problems to connect. Because we share the same values about relationships and we are two intelligent people.

  6. Nicole says:

    Hello! This is a great topic to discuss! I can totally relate to this article and some of the previous comments as well. My boyfriend works on airplanes and has loved all things that have to do with aviation, the sky, and astronomy for years. He has never worked more than one job at once, and sometimes has trouble understanding me and what I want. I run my own health and wellness business, but have also done so many other side jobs over the past year while I get my business up and running well. I am definitely a case of the jobs and occupations slash slash slash lol! (Nanny / Pet Sitter / Nutritionist / Call Center Worker/ Teacher / Delivery Driver!!!) Haha, I have been all over the place in the last couple years.

    I think taking the time to spend quality time together is so important. We do have some common interests that overlap, so that works well. I also love introducing him to new things and learning more about things he is interested in. Luckily things are going fairly well for us, but we do have a spat now and again somewhat revolving around me and doing too many things at once. I’m sure he wishes that I would just get a ‘real full-time job’, but he knows this is not what I really want and does his best now to be supportive of my work in its varying forms.

    Anyways, figuring out what to do when spending time together can be hard sometimes, because of all my crazy interests and him staying mostly in one lane. But overall we find things that work. Hanging out with groups of friends is good. We go out to eat together and watch movies/tv at home like mentioned in the article. Sometimes deciding where to eat can be difficult, because he typically wants to visit some chain restaurant we always go to, and I often want to try a new local place. But we take turns usually and it works out. Best of luck to all you couples! <3

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