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What are some methods for handling extreme fandom in dating relationships?

The question arises with the new season of Game of Thrones, but I'd like to keep it a little more general.

Fandom is a powerful thing, amongst geeks at least, and it seems that managing expectations can be a source of conflict in close relationships.

For instance, I'm a devout zombie fan. I could very happily spend an evening in binging on the cheesiest of zombie related content, while on the other hand many of the people I've dated prefer high fantasy... Don't get me wrong I enjoy this genre as well, but not nearly to the extent that true fans do.

Sometimes geekery comes in direct conflict. I prefer Star Trek while others prefer Star Wars...

What are some methods of bringing peaceful discourse between geeks who are avid fans of different things when dating?

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    This seems a bit too broad. There are so many groups and so many types of conflict between them. Can you narrow it down at all? – Catija Jul 27 '17 at 0:41
  • @Catija I was honestly hoping for a general answer because it is a slightly broad topic. More how to handle differences in fandom than how to handle specific instances. – apaul Jul 27 '17 at 0:45
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    Can you give a specific example of a problem? – user288 Jul 27 '17 at 3:26
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    @Hamlet I tend to avoid specific examples because people tend to zero in on them and miss the question. – apaul Jul 27 '17 at 3:33
  • If you both want to make the relationship work, then wouldn't you (and the partner) strive to accept each others' differences? Personally I'd take it as an opportunity to find out more about other fandoms and that person. – marcellothearcane Jul 27 '17 at 5:31
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I am not sure how I see this as any different than any other hobby one really enjoys. My husband & I have very different hobbies we both pursue. I don't anticipate he will enjoy mine & join me & same the other way around. I have friends that enjoy my hobbies. He has friends that enjoy his. Sometimes we may do something together, but largely we do our hobbies separately. While I have thought at times it might be nice if we shared a hobby we were both passionate about, I can't say I truly think it would be better. I think for us, it's better that we don't. It has helped us maintain our own lives while also being a couple.

If for some reason you have an intense need for someone to share your hobby, then I would suggest finding someone who already loves it. It is not likely someone will grow to love it by your exposure (though certainly possible). What is more common in such cases, is that when attraction is intense, sometimes a person will be happy to sit through things they do not enjoy because they so intensely enjoy your company at that phase of it, they would sit through anything & be fine. As the intensity of the draw to be with that person every waking moment wanes (as it should, in a healthy relationship) then the person no longer shows an interest in being around the hobby & that can be a source of being irritated (like they duped you, when that was never what they were intending) or they can be "sick" of your hobby.

So my take on it would be that they are always welcome to join you while you enjoy your hobby, but that you have no expectation of them joining & never pressure. Likewise they should show you that same respect. And as with any hobby, ensure the time you devote to it isn't so much that it interferes with your ability to have relationships with people that are not directly involved in whatever that hobby is. If you can't have close relationships with people that are not immersed in your hobby, then you may need to take a step back & put some balance in your life as to how much focus you place on your hobby.

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"Fandom" can make or break a relationship, particularly a romantic one. So use it carefully.

There are some potential couples where one is a fan of say, the Chicago White Sox, and the other is a fan of the Chicago Cubs, and each wants a partner that agrees. or at least is compatible with, their own choice. That kind of relationship may be doomed unless one or the other "converts." But better to find out sooner than later.

On the other hand, they may view their "opposing" fandoms as a shared passion for baseball and/or Chicago. In that case, a common "fandom" could be a great unifier, even if they agree to disagree on "details."

I've been told that most great relationships are based on a shared passion, read "fandom." If so, use it wisely.

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So you have a topic you can argue about where the outcome of the argument doesn't really have any major effect on your life? That's great!

Some people approach a relationship with an attitude that any form of conflict must be avoided so you can be a constantly happy lovey-dovey couple. That's a mistake! One of the most important things for maintaining a long-term relationship is having a compatible conflict resolution strategy. In the long term, conflicts about important life decisions can not be avoided (I am not talking about "what movie do we watch tonight", more like "do we move to this or that city" or "are we ready to have children").

When such a conflict arrives, you and your significant other must have learned how to have a civilized and respectful discussion with each other. You also must have realized that a disagreement is not the end and that your relationship can recover from it. When you haven't done that before the big conflict arrives, your relationship is in serious danger of breaking up.

How to resolve conflicts with another person is something you have to practice with each person. So don't be afraid of irrelevant arguments, because it helps you to practice how to have an argument with that person without either of you getting hurt.

So if you come to a disagreement about whether or not white walkers are zombies, if the USS Enterprise would win against an imperial star destroyer or how lame it is that every high fantasy author just plagiarizes J.R.R. Tolkien (and we all know that there is exactly one right answer to each of these questions), delve right into it. See how far you can take it, be mad at each other, make up and laugh together about how ridiculous it was to get into a fight about something so trivial.

Or maybe you actually do end up breaking up about something that ridiculous. If you do, your relationship wasn't going to last anyway. It might not seem like that now, but in a few months you will realize it was for the better.

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