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April 12, 2010

Ask a Bogan: Dating a Non-Metalhead

Ask a Metalhead, Tr00 Metal Life

Dear Steff Metal

For the last six months I’ve been dating the sweetest, funniest girl. Everything’s perfect, except … she’s not into metal. She likes indie shit music.

I’ve never dated a “metal chick” before, and this has never been a problem for me. Except now I really like this girl. Recently, a lot of bands have been visiting my city, and I’ve  spent tons of money on shows and tickets and t-shirts, and we stopped doing stuff as much as we used to, because I’ve been busy and broke and it’s pissing her off.

I feel sad when I see other dudes with their girlfriends headbanging away at shows. Metal is a huge part of my life, and I would love to share it with her, but she just doesn’t “get it”. So my question is, metalheads and non-metalheads, does it work?

***

In my experience, no.

I dated two non-metalheads. The first was in high=school, and I introduced him to Metallica and he fell in love and, while he likes a lot of “indie shit” he’s a guitarist, so had a real appreciation for metal. So that was OK, but it was high school so it all fell apart in a majorly bad way.

The second I went out with for three years – he was a musician too, and when I met him he was wearing a Metallica shirt and had long hair. I thought I’d hit paydirt. But, while Metallica had introduced me to the wonderful world of metal, he regarded them as the heaviest band on earth, and didn’t like any other metal bands, and couldn’t see the appeal of the bands I listened to. He was more into alternative rock, and I felt myself being pulled further away from the “scene”, into his world, and I realized that wasn’t what I wanted. As time went on, we just spent less and less time together as my interests went in one direction and his in another. This wasn’t just about the music, but it was a big part of it. I knew metal would always be a big part of my life and I wanted someone to share that with.

Having dated (and married) a metalhead, I would never reconsider this decision (and it was a conscious decision). I have always been attracted to a certain personality in men – and those qualities were things I did not possess, qualities that complement my own personality. I think this is a subconscious decision on my behalf to choose people who will fill out the areas in which I lack.

My husband and I are very different: I am very frugal (sometimes to the point of ridiculousness), whereas he spends money as soon as he gets it, so together we create a (mostly) happy medium. I am painfully shy and eternally optimistic, and he is very forthright and cynical, so we balance those aspects of each other’s personalities. I am the person he needed to show him he can do more with his life than he ever imagined. And he is the person who will stick up for me and protect me when I can’t do this for myself.

steff-heavy-metal-wedding

Our metal, viking, medieval, halloween wedding

We “get” each other, in part because we both hear ourselves in the music, so we feel like we knew each other before we even met. Some of the best nights of my life were at gigs and festivals – I can’t imagine not being able to share that with someone.

My husband dated a number of girls before me, and he says.

“I never even contemplated dating a metal chick, because all the ones I met were scody. One of my girlfriends said she ‘understood why I liked metal, but just couldn’t get into it.” A couple of them liked that I had long hair and seemed “dangerous”. But metal was something I enjoyed by myself, or with mates while we drank beer and talked about our crazy girlfriends. I just thought that was normal.

“But with Steff, everything changed. She was totally different to those other girls; someone I never would have thought of dating if she hadn’t been wearing an Iron Maiden shirt. She wasn’t neurotic; she didn’t make everything into a big deal. She didn’t care about girly things – she’d ring up and ask if I wanted to do something, and it would always be fun. She introduced me to her mates and they were all metalheads, and they became my mates too, and before I know it I was playing drums again and my life had completely changed. And being a metalhead meant she liked all this other awesome stuff, too – archaeology, swordfighting, horror films, steak and chips – and we just clicked. Everything just clicked.”

But, I know a lot of guys (and girls) dating non-metalheads who find it works perfectly, because they share other things in their lives – medieval history, charity work, philosophies, industrial music – that mean more to them as a couple than metal. Many of my guy friends love going out to gigs with their friends as an excuse to hang out once a month, and have a big blokes night out. Others find metal cathartic, a way to meditate and let go of frustrations, a kind of inner peace they don’t want to share with someone else.

viking-metal-wedding

Don't marry a metalhead folks, if you don't want your wedding to look like this.

I know it’s harder for guys in the metalhead dating game, because while some research suggests an equal number of men and women listen to metal, men are predominantly the ones who go to shows, collect the albums, and obsess over the music. The girls who do this are either – to quote my charming husband – “ugly or taken.” So if you want a metalhead girl, you have the numbers stacked against you from the very beginning.

But that’s not the real issue here.

When you say “metalheads and non-metalheads, does it work?” what I hear is “Things seem perfect, but I’m starting to have doubts”.

Are you?

People tend to embrace metal because the music speaks to part of them – it becomes a manifestation of who they are and what they believe in. Your girlfriend obviously loves music too, and she probably feels the same way about her indie music.

Do you call her music “indie shit” to her face? I bet it pisses her off. Don’t do that, because it’s like you’re calling her indie shit, since her music is as much a part of her as metal is a part of you. Feel free to call it “indie shit” here, though, because I 100% agree.

You shouldn’t give up on your girl because she doesn’t like metal, but you should call it quits if she actually doesn’t get you, and what you stand for.

If you really want to make it with this girl, I would make her a mix CD of metal songs. Metal songs that describe you, describe her and the way you feel about her (maybe leave “Pleasure Slave” off). Songs that got you through the hard times, and celebrate the man you are now and the man you hope to be. Write the linear notes explaining what each song means to you. Trust me, she’s a girl, she will think this is the most amazing gift ever. 

Let her make a mix tape for you, full of indie shit, and see if you can understand.

When you hear a song out of context, and you’re not listening, you are bound to think its shit. When you go to a Deicide concert and you have no idea who they are, you’re going to find it scary. But if you show your girlfriend how metal makes you feel, . She will probably realize actually, she does like some of the songs you give her. And you will probably discover a few shit indie songs aren’t actually that bad.

Let me know how you get on! And also, if anyone reading has a question they’d like answered on the blog (or privately: I am on top of my email) send me a message at steff@steffmetal.com

\m/ Peace, Love and Necromancy \m/
Steff

15 Comments on “Ask a Bogan: Dating a Non-Metalhead

Tyr fan
May 2, 2015 at 4:48 pm

I’ve only dated one guy, so I guess this could have been bad luck, but when I dated a non-metalhead for almost two years, it just wasn’t… right. I asked him if he would like to go to a Tyr concert with me (I offered to buy the tickets!!!) and he said no. I also asked if he would go with me to Amon Amarth (again, offered to pay our way)… no again. It hurt, because I REALLY wanted to see both of them :(. He wasn’t mean or anything, but once I got into metal, it was just kind of like… not right. He was all interested in who I was before metal (a techno/dance music chick), and just could not appreciate that my music changed my life and way of looking at things. Just my experience. Once again, it could have just been bad luck. I guess I’m gonna have to try dating a metalhead and see what happens! That’s one of those things that only experience will tell me. Everyone’s different, so maybe it works for some and not for others. Btw Steff, your wedding pics are REALLY pretty!!! :D

steff
May 3, 2015 at 3:31 pm

@Tyr fan – thanks so much :) It was such a fun wedding. I’m no expert either, and the truth is, no matter who you date you are never going to have 100% compatible passions and hobbies and interests. My husband hates Nick Cave, who is probably my favourite artist of all time, and I have not that much interest in post-industrial revolution technology, whereas he loves trains and planes and learning how things work. We have a hard time agreeing on artwork to put on the walls of our house (I win always), and he isn’t as keen on things like hiking and swimming and fitness and being outdoors as I am. It’s more about being compatible as people, I think. None of that stuff is really important when you think about whether you both hold each other up, support each other, make each other laugh. However, music is such a huge part of both our lives that being able to share it is such a wonderful part of our relationship. Standing together in the pit the first time we saw Blind Guardian, going to Wacken together, cheering for Eddie when he comes on during Iron Maiden’s show – this stuff is some of our best memories, and it’s probably for that reason I wouldn’t go back to dating non-metalhead unless I ended up at a point in my life when the music was no longer as important to me as it once was. Also, long hair forever \m/

Patrick L. Bertlein
December 5, 2014 at 11:10 am

It all depends, as Metalheads come in many forms. I would be considered one by many, as I grew up listening to Sepultura, Napalm Death, etc. At the same time, most of that is more nostalgic now, I’m in my 30s. I do listen to old school stuff, but I also enjoy a lot of Ambient, various Rock bands, even stuff like Tori Amos and Damian Rice. I’m more of a Black/Doom guy than anything, so a lot of that stuff is far, far away from Maiden, which also means that my partner enjoys a lot of my music. Actually, what she does not enjoy is the poppy Melodic Death stuff, but when she saw Godflesh she really enjoyed it, appreciates Neurosis, and likes the emotion and atmosphere of a lot of Doom and Black.

I find what works is that she can tolerate some and enjoys quite a few of the bands I regularly play. The hard part, is that she never grew up with music (run away) so she does not understand identifying yourself with a band, how music becomes a part of you in many ways. She, in other words, is not a FAN, meaning fanatic. She will never get excited about a concert or cd like I do, probably never have a favorite band, nothing like that. THAT is the hard part, and one of the hardest things about our relationship. not being able to share what is so special to you does not make it easy.

Guess I am using this as a confession booth, so I will cut it short, but maybe that will help you figure it out for yourself. My partner is also extremely caring and intelligent, and like I said she genuinely likes a lot of stuff I do (she makes it clear when she does not, trust me), and we have a lot going for us. Is she worth leaving because she will likely not be as interested in the new Bethlehem as I am? No, I can not say so, but it will always be a sore spot, and I think when you become an adult, which is not until the 30’s for most, what is most important is accepting those sore spots, because they are sure to come no matter what. Their is no ideal “perfect” partner, their is only who they are, and who you are.

Little Black Car
June 25, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Non-metalhead who has dated metalheads weighing in: . . . I think it depends. If you have other things in common, sure, although I think that how big a part of your respective lives music is can definitely be an issue.

I’m also a die-hard music fan but more in the nebulous “Americana” genre. I’ve dated guys who didn’t care about music and guys whose music I actively disliked. I don’t dislike metal, but it’s just never going to be a natural fit for me. In dating metalheads, though, 1) we shared some secondary non-metal music preferences, and 2) our approaches to our respective favorite musical genres was similar so, even if we often didn’t understand each others’ tastes, we could at least understand the mindset. And we had other interests in common.

(We broke up for logistical reasons, not personal ones; job and living arrangement issues. We’re still friendly online.)

We also never dissed each others’ music. I know he must have hated a lot of mine, and I listened to enough of his to start having opinions, but neither of us ever wrote the other’s off as stupid.

Joshua Russell
May 11, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Nobody asks for your birth certificate

Anj
May 3, 2013 at 12:58 am

If it matters anymore I am not a metal head and I listen to some but mostly blues, pop, soft rock, classics, and love songs. I love fashion, love dresses, and skinny jeans and more girly then tom boy. I have been with my boyfriend for 3yrs now going on 4yrs and we are happy together just as we are:

So yes it can work, he loves metal it is his passion and his soul and thats why I love him because of who he is as long as she can appreciate you for who you are and can at least make the best of who you are then it will work. Every relationship is different so don’t allow your heart nor mind to be like others but set your own thoughts of what you want from your partner not what she needs to be.

G
February 7, 2011 at 7:51 am

Very insightful response. Liking metal when your partner doesn’t isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker in a relationship; however, making metal music a regular investment in your life (going to concerts regularly, or being in a band) will be one.

In my situation, my mother didn’t want me to date until I was older, and I only did so after I had moved nearer to a metropolitan area where there were regular metal shows. The guys in the rural community where I grew up were politically and socially conservative minded, and they were either into country music or, as you noted, thought Metallica was the most extreme music out there, so I never felt that I was missing out by not going on dates when I was a teenager. I think that location can play a part in having difficulty finding someone who enjoys the same music.

I will say, as an unrepulsive looking female, I’ve been somewhat spoiled — there are any number of good men in the metal scene, and it’s generally easier for a woman into metal music to find a suitable partner than it is for the men. Once I started going to shows, I had no problems meeting and dating some pretty nice guys, very much including my great boyfriend of 14 years. I can’t imagine dating a guy who doesn’t mark his calendar with upcoming shows, or doesn’t get excited about (particular metal band) having a new release, or isn’t looking forward to a big weekend fest.

steff
February 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm

@G – I absolutely agree! We female metalheads are spoiled for choice. So many beautiful men.

UnbentUnbowedUnbroken
September 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I’m involved in a very unhappy LTR with someone who’s not really that big of a metal fan (sits and obsesses over sports while playing my HammerFall CDs) and I’m planning to call it quits when the lease is up. In my opinion, it’s not worth it. If you’re a metalhead involved with one who is not, most of the time you end up in a hellish, frustrating mess. I’d rather be single than do that again, sorry to say.

genevieveink
April 15, 2010 at 12:10 am

Really liked this post Steff – I’m a vocalist that came from a country/pop/bluegrass background, but nowadays I sing lead vocals in a heavy rock/melodic metal band.

I initially hardly knew anything about metal at all, but when I met my partner/bandmate, he started taking me to a lot of metal shows (the first was a black metal night), and teaching me about the bands, the differences between genres and sounds.

I went into it with a totally open mind and emerged with many new friends and styles of music that I’ve grown to love, now counting In Flames, Scar Symmetry, Mors Principium Est, Within Temptation, Ayreon, and Stream of Passion, among some of my favourite bands. I find a lot in metal that is calming and also a release at the same time, and it is awesome to be able to communicate that onstage as well :D

(myspace.com/finalserenityband)

Imogen
April 14, 2010 at 1:35 am

Hmmm.
I don’t care that you think some of the music I like is ‘indieshit’ Steff m’dear… coz you’re still my fwend. *hugs*
Music doesn’t necessarily mean matrimony.
My boyfriend is the only boyfriend I’ve had who doesn’t ‘get’ ANY music… but he’s the best. And I can’t live without music.

steff
April 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm

@MrPolek – You are, of course completly correct. No one should be a snob and say “ooh, I only date metalheads”, because that’s like saying “I only date white people” or “I only date … zookeepers,” or something. You never know what amazing people you might miss out on by limiting yourself like that.

I have seen it work to. When I write these things I always say what has or hasn’t worked for me (and dating non-metalheads never worked for me, just because metal IS a defining part of my personality) and people can make of that what they will. Inter-genre dating is an . And you never, EVER lose out in life by giving something a try – even if it doesn’t work out in the long run, the experience will be worth it.

@v – I agree. I think generally, any audiophile will find something to like in any genre of music. (I’ve even found a couple of hip hop bands I like.) Again, it’s about keeping an open mind. Open minds are good!

@E – I wish I had been a fly on the wall during THAT little speech! Childish my ass.

This:

“there are times when you’ve just got to either admit your differences and split, or get comfortable having a whole section of your life remain separate from your relationship, and this goes for all passions.”

is a universal truth.

E.Bleak
April 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Let me say that S.McManbeast is the first metalhead/horror nerd I’ve dated long term and I swear that that’s a huge part of how we do so well together. (Even if I listen to way more kvlt underground bleakity-black metal and he still loves Megadeth, it works!)

My last ex was a techno junkie and video game fanatic, hated metal and horror, and nothing got my hackles up more than the time he told me that metal was “childish,” after I’d spent a long-ass year going to bouncy technopop shows full of annoying nerds, and missing a Lair of the Minotaur show (!!!) because he’d backed out at the last second. The ensuing diatribe ripped apart his little bleep-bloop tunes as only true metal can. While it CAN work out between genres – I know some metal boys that do really well with goth girls – there are times when you’ve just got to either admit your differences and split, or get comfortable having a whole section of your life remain separate from your relationship, and this goes for all passions.

v
April 13, 2010 at 4:14 am

What a great article and WOW what a wedding!

As for the subject matter, my current long term guy is not as into metal as I am (he is a serious audiophile) but while his love of jazz offsets my love of dark classical, we can find common ground in bands like Opeth, ISIS, Mastodon etc. As Steph said, being open is the first step to finding common ground. There is a lot of metal that ‘indie rockers’ can get into and a lot of “indie” that metalheads can get into, it just takes that beautiful journey of exploration.

MrPolek
April 13, 2010 at 12:05 am

I know a lot of ppl that are in a relationship with non-metalheads. In my oppinion it can work.

A realationship should not be based on any scene or something, but on personality.

The thing is that Metalheads mostly share a certain common set of personal attributes. That’s why a metalhead-relation is mostly better working than a metal-non-metal-relationship.

But hey. Why not giving it a try.

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