They say artists shouldn’t date other artists, and actors shouldn’t date other actors. This is also the case when it comes to music writers. For starters, music writers are a miserable lot who are mostly paid in concert tickets, ego-stroking and swag, rather than actual money. Plus, they’re opinionated like no one else, and conversations about their preferred musicians often amount to little more than dick-measuring (yes, even for the ladies).
Once upon a time I dated another music writer, and the emotional results weren’t always pretty. So take heed! Here are the reasons not to make the mistake I did.
When I first took up with my music critic beau, he was my inspiration. A few years older than I, he actually got paid to write. But as I developed I began achieving things at a younger age than he had, and I felt the tension grow between us. “Wow, that’s great that they made you an editor at [pop music website]. That’s, um, earlier than when I started editing at [same pop music website].”
Then there was the time I snagged an interview with country legend Merle Haggard… right around the same time my ex wanted to interview him. His response? “That’s great, Rach. …Although you technically started listening to him because of me.
A matter of taste?
As much as critics like to pretend otherwise, the quality of a particular album or band is subjective, and folks are going to disagree. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in a relationship, it’s easy to take things personally if your partner doesn’t like the stuff you do. If they’re a music critic, paid to defend their taste, it can get downright ugly.
Oh, and it goes without saying that one, or both of you, will be pretentious. Your significant other is not going to let you turn off his death metal, Dutch tape music, or tuneless free jazz records because “a great music writer should expand their mind.”
My ex and I used to get into such intense music debates, that at one point I’d somehow convinced myself that I, too, hated any and all “indie template” bands (The National = major sticking point), and that Eleanor Friedberger was nothing but a sub-par singer with a trend-seeking haircut. Well, after the ex and I parted ways, I listened to The National and Fiery Furnaces every day on repeat. Because I could.
At some point you may end up editing each other
Confession: I interned at a company where my ex edited my work–yep, that’s how we met.
While this was just fine before we started dating, it quickly morphed into a weird power dynamic–and not the sexy kind. I became extra-sensitive to his edits, and sometimes he’d change my words around so drastically that they’d sound exactly like his. (And here I thought being an editor meant maintaining your writer’s voice? Shows what I know!) [Editor’s note: Perhaps he had a point.]
But whatever–I’m not a fragile flower. I wouldn’t have taken the edits personally if we were platonic, but as bf/gf this relationship was bound to go off the rails.
Record shopping marathons
Another confession: I don’t like record shopping. This is less a problem now with Spotify and all that, but the truest music nerds are always going to find their way to record stores, and will drag their significant other along.
I’m way too accustomed to singles and instant gratification to spend all day digging through the dollar bins, like my ex preferred. I never had the heart to tell him (probably for fear of judgement), and that was my mistake.
But you know what? Here’s what I learned from this whole thing, and this applies to dating anyone, music critic or not: Make sure you line up well with your crush from the get go. Sure, nobody’s going to agree on everything, but be prepared to stand up for what matters to you. If you like The National, then for God’s sake listen to The National. If you’re into tuneless free jazz, then for God’s sake listen to tuneless free jazz. Just don’t make your partner do it along with you.