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Couple find common interests and celebrate their differences

Updated: July 19, 2013 3:26PM

Dan and Jessica met three years ago at a political fund-raiser. He says she was “cute as a button.” They started talking politics, and the conversation went so well that Dan asked for her number.

“I still have the business card she gave me. I used the wall as a desk and scribbled her cell phone number.”

He called her a week later, and they made dinner plans.

“We discussed our education, interests, likes and dislikes. We had a great conversation and enjoyed the company so much that we made another date.”

They found they have a lot in common. They’re both college-educated professionals who love theater, classic films, new movies, concerts, all kinds of music, some TV and dancing.

They both read a lot for work and for pleasure. They both like to exercise and enjoy all kinds of food. They’ve both traveled. They’re both White Sox fans.

But there are differences, as well. “She’s strongly analytical; I’m creative,” says Dan. “That’s quite a yin and yang.”

And then there’s the fact that Dan is white and Jessica is African-American. He’s in his mid-50s, born and raised in Chicago in a traditional Catholic family, divorced after 25 years of marriage with two adult children.

She’s in her late 30s, a Baptist, born in the South, divorced after five years of marriage with no children.

Dan says the differences in their races and ages have never been an issue for them, and their families have embraced their choices. But others seem to make more of it than they do.

“My male friends, who cover an entire racial-age spectrum, have certain notions about dating a younger woman, especially ‘a sister’ — nothing negative or disrespectful mind you; they just give me a ‘nod and wink.’ It’s nothing I’m especially concerned about.

“Jessica knows them all and joins us occasionally for a game or special occasion or just to just hang out with them and their partners. We’ve talked about her being the only black female in the group, but other than that, she’s not bothered. They all like and respect her.”

And then there are the looks and comments from strangers. “We get the ‘He must be her sugar-daddy; she must be his trophy’ looks. When we’re out with my grandson, the looks and comments are even more pronounced. It doesn’t bother us. We discuss the small-mindedness of some people and allow for their bigotry and ignorance. The issues are theirs, not ours.”

Dan says when they first started dating, he saw a “Love is ...” cartoon in the paper. “The caption — ‘Love is when your differences don’t make a difference’ — struck me so strongly that a framed copy hangs on a wall in our room as testament to who we are.

“We motivate, support and encourage each other. We share a mutual respect for one another. Her attitude and disposition truly brings out the best in me — not an easy task sometimes!

“I like to think we’re like a puzzle. All the individual pieces are colorful and unique by themselves, but together they form a beautiful and equally unique work of art.”

Are you and your partner very different in some basic way? Age? Race? Religion? Political affiliation? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants. to

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