Could you date an artist if you didn’t like their art?

I posted this question on my personal facebook page the other day, and was amazed by the number of responses and how many people were really interested in the topic.  Here’s my original question followed by the responses I got (sans names, except for when I chimed in).  What do you think?

Do you think you can date an artist (visual, performance, musician, writer, whatever) and not like their art?

I think that would be really hard.


I couldn’t date one even if I did like their art.

Me: It’s funny, I asked that question on Twitter and got several male photographers responding to say their wife/gf doesn’t care about their photography at all. I’d just imagine since art is such a strong extension of the artist, if you don’t like what the art is saying you probably won’t like the person.

Well, but there’s a difference between not liking certain pieces of art and being indifferent to that artistic medium.

As long as you are only in it for the physical and don’t plan on spending any real amount of time with that person (it is my belief that art is an extension of personality, so not liking someone’s art is saying that you don’t like who they truly are)

I think it has nothing to do with their skills and all to do with their character. I’d have no problem dating anyone that thinks more or less like me or has many qualities similar to mine. I’m currently dating an artist, and she’s pretty awesome.

Me and my gf, have different tastes in music as an example, that does not mean that I can’t stand her because she has different tastes.

Me: There’s a very big difference between having different tastes in music and hating your girlfriend’s band.

Maybe. It depends on what you don’t like about the art, and how personal the art is to the artist.
So if it’s “their art isn’t my style, or they aren’t great at it but my partner is skilled at it/cares a lot about it and I can appreciate that”
It will probably go more smoothly than ” I hate the topic or medium of their art and /or think they are crap at it.”

I think kids should be taught to appreciate art from an early age, this would mean that later they can say that this art does nothing for them instead of actually HATING it. I think if your bf loves you but does not like the music your band plays, that is unfortunate but nothing serious. I hope that that relationship is bonded by many other similar tastes.
If the girl’s band is her life, and is her passion, and her sig.other not only does not like it, but actually hates it, then indeed, that relationship has a serious problem.

I find it’s impossible to be involved with someone that doesn’t like my art, not because my ego needs the special attention, but because performance and art are such a massive part of my life that if they don’t like my stuff they end up resenting the amount of attention and time my music/fire/visual arts stuff takes.


Ask John Lennon. I think a lot of drugs helped him to like Yoko’s art. :0)
Wife and I love much of each other’s work, but also don’t resonate with a fair amount of it. We have different tastes. I think the important thing though, is we respect the passion and the technique which goes into the work, even if the outcome isn’t “to our tastes.”
If I thought someone was a fraud, or just clueless about their art, I would find that more damning than the work itself. Honesty — especially self-honesty — is the thing I find increasingly important, not just in artwork, but in relationships.

No, no way. I can’t seen not being honest with a partner, and I also can’t see having a happy relationship if I couldn’t love their art as well. It’s part of seeing them fully as an equal. I’ve actually avoided relationships based on that…

You have to be able to separate yourself from your work though.

(someone responding to the comment above) that’s hard to do when you’re an artist. It’s not being a butcher and having trouble not slicing up the wife and kids. Art is right-brain stuff which by its very nature is tough to compartmentalize. It’s the inner self being expressed outwardly. You can’t just “leave your inner self” at the office.

There is a difference between liking and appreciating. I may not exactly have the taste of my musician boyfriend (ie:don’t really like his music style), but I appreciate his talent and am supportive and do find some lyrics to be pretty awesome. I think we all have different tastes, and for us, that doesn’t stop me loving him. So yes, I think you can love a person without fully loving their art.

Do you still respect their art? I mean, regardless of the wall that artist put up between themselves and their art (gotta get through that critique somehow, right?), the line between the artist and the art is fuzzy at best, nonexistent at worst. You can still respect the art without particularly *liking* it, right? Respect is the important part of any relationship.

Impossible. It’s what I’m going to be doing in one for or another at least 75% of my waking time. Note that I say this as someone who’s an illustrator married to another illustrator.

I think there’s a difference between indifference and not liking.

I can respect their efforts, and their attempts at improvement, and their love of art. I just mean that if I know their art is flawed or I take issue with the style or movement, I’m going to critique it. If it’s a friend, I can tamp down this impulse. If I’m in a relationship: no way, it’s going to come out that I feel it’s flawed. And while some critique is always useful it can be a drag to realize that your partner doesn’t like your work. It can be heartbreaking. I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone. I also wouldn’t feel comfortable being dishonest about their work when I’m supposed to be in a fully equal relationship. So. No dating faux naive artists for me.

Me: Yeah, I’d also say I’m not sure I could be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t like my art. It’s not so much an ego being hurt thing as feeling like a part of me was being rejected because so much of what I photograph is about how I see the world, and having an s.o. who was always “meh” or “” about it would definitely resonate negatively.
Besides, I make my boyfriend deal with a lot of, “Does this look weird? What about this? Should I leave it in color or black and white?” and if he didn’t like my art to start with, I’m sure that’d get old fast (or at least faster than it already does).

that’s like going to an all you can eat buffet and not liking food

I think it’s dependent on 1) How awesome a person they are. 2) How hot they are. And 3) how much money they make from their art. For instance, I can’t stand the music Jennifer Love Hewitt has ever made, but she’s hot, rich, and at least in interviews, kind. So I could probably make an exception for her.

But there’s often still a boundary between artist and art. A writer can write stories of terrible acts and terrible deeds with great creativity, and yet not actually be capable of those acts themselves. A photographer may take pictures of the ugly side of life without having their life be constantly ugly. Of course I’m very big on personal boundaries and probably wouldn’t be a good partner for someone whose art and life were so mixed up in each other.

Me: (responding to previous comment) I think it’s good to have boundaries, but I also think it’s important for those to come down with certain people, like significant others.

I have very hard boundaries, and they take time to come down even with significant others. I have also had the negative experience of having personal issues outed by a partner in the name of “art” so I am gun shy.

Love this convo. In my experience (similar to one of your comments, and, I’d argue, applicable to any major hobby), if someone is truly an artist then their art is likely a big part of their life and persona (moreso than a “just a job”). Indifference from an s.o., much less anything tipping towards dislike, means that they aren’t willing to be invested in something that’s a huge part of who you are, and therefore aren’t willing to be invested fully in YOU. It would always feel like some hugely major puzzle piece was missing. And that’s not even taking into consideration that we all want the people we care about to be proud of our accomplishments on at least some level.

Also some of things I do in pursuit of creative satisfaction are for me alone and it doesn’t matter to me if my partner loves them or is indifferent as long as they don’t get in my way.  And that is what may make me an unsuitable partner for someone who lives their art.

Good conversation. It actually got me to articulate some things I didn’t quite know I thought, and allowed me to see other people’s points of view. Also I have an admiration for people who can make their creativity a big part of their life. I’m still working on that part.

Ultimately it depends, so there are no absolutes, but my general thought is that you can if the person whose art is not liked can handle the honesty and if the person not liking it is still respectful and can give the other person the time and space they need to pursure their art. Overall though, the relationship needs to link up in some other way of course. Being an artist myself, I have the need to do art and I’d like it if my partner loved whatever I do, but I can handle it if he doesn’t and appreciate his being able to be true to himself too.  Then again, there are limits. Not liking is different than hating or thinking something is pointless, etc. I could not be with someone who was scornful toward my art and would not want to be with someone whose art I abhored.

Coming from experience: you don’t have to like it, you do have to support it.

My guy and I had a conversation about this thread last night 🙂 I think if you can appreciate and admire their talent, you can still be in a relationship. But actually liking their work makes it easier to support their goals. This is as a non-artist, it could be different for those who are artists.


1 Comment

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One response to “Could you date an artist if you didn’t like their art?

  1. What a great question. Having somewhat different tastes are ok on some level but if someone’s sig,other absolutely hates or cannot stand your art or your band or whatever then there’s a problem.You can’t separate the person from the art they make. It’s like hating a huge part of their personality, then why would anyone want to be with someone whose personality they can’t stand?

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