In case you missed it (or just don’t care), in an episode of Girls aka Those Privileged White Chicks this season, possibly in response to backlash about the lack of diversity in the cast, main character, Hannah, a writer, dated a black Republican, Sandy, played by actor/ rapper Donald Glover.
In his one and only episode, Sandy puts off reading Hannah’s latest essay after she’d repeatedly asked him to read it. When she mentions to her hippie friend, Jessa, that he hasn’t read it yet, she pointed out something interesting.
“If he’s not reading your essays, he’s not reading you.”
Sandy did read the essay, but thought it sucked and didn’t understand it, hence an argument and the quickest breakup in television history. Rather than focus on their awkward onscreen relationship, I thought about how your significant other’s interest in what you do can affect dating and relationships.
Can you deal with your honey not caring about what makes your heart sing (provided you know what that thing is)? I’m not talking about that job you’re on the brink of quitting every other day, a shoe collection or your soft obsession with a celebrity, but that thing that you could do every day for free if you had the chance.
If you are a pastry chef or baker, when someone asks your boo what you do, would you feel comfortable if he/she said, “She makes cookies and shit”? If you’re an artist, would dating someone who doesn’t care about your pieces or attend your art exhibits fly with you?
In the classic film, Brown Sugar, when Dre told his childhood friend, Sydney that he read her L.A .Times column every Sunday even though he was on the opposite coast, we all secretly “le sighed.” When Dre’s wife called his dream to start a record label “a thing,” our hearts dropped. We love to say that we are not what we do. We are independent of and more than our passions, but honestly, the lines can become blurred. So, can we assume that if a person isn’t really interested in our work, they’re not interested in us either?
Once in the beginning stages of dating a guy, to give him a little more insight into who I was, I shared the link to my blog. It’s not a diary by any means, but it gives a look into my humor and viewpoints. His response was, “I looked at the first page….So, you have an opinion about a lot.” I explained that I have a 9-5, but my passion is writing, and I’m lucky to be paid to do it (sometimes). He replied with a dry, “Oh, that’s cool,” and that was that. A couple of stories were published while we dated, and I didn’t mention them much. Because I’m a writer and we can be a bit narcissistic, I secretly wanted to scream, “READ MY STUFF! Get to know me!”
To add insult to injury, he told me he didn’t “really read.” I knew it would be a problem down the road because reading is such a big part of my life. I sent up “hallelujahs” when he sent me a link to a story from XXL about rappers needing tax assistance. It wasn’t a Pulitzer Prize novel, but it was something with thoughts, words and sentences.
My friends and family know I get excited about stories, books and magazines. I’m sure I annoy them with my talk of it, but they listen and ask questions, and if they don’t really care, they do an awesome job of faking it (thanks y’all). The same support should come from a significant other.
Interest in your significant other’s passion goes a long way, especially if the relationship is serious. That might be doubly true for creative types, as our work is an expression or even extension of ourselves. Brown Sugar, though fictitious, makes sense. Perhaps relationships are more successful when partners support each other even if they aren’t involved in the work themselves. You don’t have to be knee-deep in it either—it’s their thing, not yours.
So what say ye? Interest in your work and support of it: Can you have one without the other, or does it even matter if the rest of the relationship is great? Has a significant other’s disinterest in your work caused problems in the relationship?