I broke up with my boyfriend because he didn’t know who Tevin Campbell was. It wasn’t about Tevin Campbell. The problem was, he didn’t listen to secular music. And so, I broke up with him because I had a terrible premonition that on my wedding night, we would be making love to the music of Don Moen!

I came face-to-face with my relationship expectations. If I married him, I couldn’t say life did not warn me. I couldn’t expect him to “talk dirty” to me during sex. I couldn’t expect to be turned on by music that offended him either. Perhaps some people can live without those things. But, I cannot do without music and words.

We underestimate how much exposure impacts relationships. It defines the quality of conversation. If you are sapiosexual and words matter to you, you will most likely be in a relationship with someone like you. For you, opposites do not attract. They fight.

Imagine hearing the music of Aaliyah and you jump up to dance with your boyfriend. But he asks, “Who is she?” Imagine not being able to have a conversation about Danger Mouse and Voltron. Imagine running a financial analysis and realising it makes investment sense to buy a home abroad. But your boyfriend insists his home must be in the village.

Those specific things are not issues in themselves. It is the fact that they point to a cultural misalignment. Your culture was formed from decades of experiences. It defines your ideology. It determines how your relationship will unfold and indeed, how you will raise your children.

Exposure and culture are the reason why I keep a list of 100 classic books, movies and songs. Whenever I mentor anyone, their first task is to read, watch and listen to the items on the list. Some of the books focus on history. When they’ve ticked off at least 50 items, then we can really talk.

If you’ve never listened to the music of the jazz greats, I will struggle to explain the exactitude of excellence to you. If you haven’t watched Rocky or Chariots of Fire, it would be harder for me to explain the nobility of winning to you. If you’ve never read Dickens or Shakespeare, how can I convey the delightful surprise that words evoke? I’m not saying I can’t relate to those who do not share my experiences. I do so everyday at work and in society. I’m just saying I do not wish to spend a lifetime with them in close quarters.

Formal education is good, but cultural exposure and an appreciation of history are critical. They make you generationally relevant and provide core material to draw on, when you need to innovate. Sometimes, exposure has simplistic applications. Like a woman knowing she should wear wire thongs with fitted trousers or she should go strapless with a cold-shoulder outfit. Over the next year, please seek cultural exposure. It will serve you well in life.

Culture defines ideology. It determines how your relationship will unfold & how you'll raise children. Click To Tweet Formal education is good, but cultural exposure makes you generationally relevant. Click To Tweet