Alison Taylor on relationships: What happens when there's a culture clash in a partnership?


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The Independent Online

Last week, an ex-boyfriend, whom I like, and who happens to lives far, far away in New York, sent me a link to the video for Jamiroquai's "Cosmic Girl", as a jokey reminder of my mid-Nineties taste in music. Even though he was ribbing me, it was in an affectionate way and it brought back all sorts of memories from that time, and our relationship.

It made me wonder, about the relationship our relationships have with the culture we live in. What happens, for instance, when there's a culture clash? Back in the 1990s, he was much less mainstream than me, into reggae and dub; the former I got into, the latter not so much.

He introduced me to Donald Byrd and some amazing disco and funk music. He was older than me so he had a few more years to develop his tastes. BUT, it didn't seem to be a problem that we didn't necessarily have the same frame of reference. I also liked the fact that he was passionate about what he liked and that I could discover things through him.

I'm not sure I'm as forgiving or generous as that now, though. I dated a guy last summer who had never heard of Woody Allen. I'll admit it, it bothered me. His music taste was pretty much confined to Radio 1's playlist. I just couldn't get into it, no matter how many times I was subjected to it. He was a great guy with a winning confidence to him, but I found his lack of interest in anything remotely 'arty' (dare I say it?) disconcerting.

It's a compromise though, right? He suffered through Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel for me and I watched White Chicks (his favourite movie) for him. We tolerated each other's taste but we didn't inspire each other at all. And for me that's important. Culture IS a great way to connect. It's also something to do on a date beyond just going for a drink, which brings me to last week and my third date at a – wait for it – poetry evening.

Poetry is not necessarily 'my thing' but my friend's poetry is, and I was there to support him. Plus, the event was in an amazingly swish, old school members' club in Whitehall with imposing views of the Thames, so it was one of those real London moments. I invited the date along and despite him being reprimanded for not wearing a tie (yes, it was that posh) we had a fun – and unusual – evening. His attitude when I invited him (and I was a bit nervous about it) was "Yes! I'm up for anything different". At that point, whether he liked poetry or not, I think he won me over.