Everyone has heard the age-old adage of “opposites attract.” While parts of this concept may be true and certainly appealing, we often misinterpret its meaning and then romanticize a relationship where absolutely nothing aligns. We end up minimizing conflicts by brushing them under the rug, and then filing them into our partner’s “quirks” categories, as opposed to red-flag categories.
The bottom line is that in a successful relationship, partners need to share SOME things...similar interests, some common goals, some shared ideas. Something. To be on each end of the spectrum on EVERY subject can be exhausting as each person attempts to defend their beliefs and opinions. So much time is wasted in trying to meet your partner in compromise when you are so opposite of each other.
When we talk about opposites attract, we are mainly referring to personality types. The introvert and extrovert, or the planner and the free spirit, for example. We innately look for traits in our partners and friends that can help us grow in areas that we can benefit from. The organizer may dream of being more spontaneous, where the free-spirit craves some structure and planning. Opposite personalities can also complement each other in filling in spaces of communication. If two “aggressives” partner up, tense situations can become even more so when each show up to be “right.” When a passive and an aggressive align, arguments can be more manageable as your partner steps in with a fresh new perspective. The fireworks of arguments appear sexy in the beginning, but rapidly lose their charm as the relationship deepens.
If you are aiming for a long-term relationship, it is important to at least agree somewhat when it comes to the big three: religion, politics, and finances (especially when considering having children.) Imagine the heartache you can sidestep if you start to thoroughly understand where you stand on these issues early on. If your partner can’t at least RESPECT your opposite view point, then there is not much to go on.
In terms of committed relationships, it is also incredibly helpful when your Love Languages align or at the very least, are understood. To put it simply, we each show and give love in one or more of five different ways: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gifts, and acts of service. When a couple has two very different ways that they show love, it can feel like the other person is speaking a foreign language and we just don’t get it. For example, someone who needs words of affirmation to feel loved needs to hear things like “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” or “I think you’re beautiful.” On the other hand, if the partner needs acts of service, they feel most loved when you take out the trash, or vacuum or make the morning cup of coffee. These languages can be learned, but when it is a stretch for the partner to understand what the other person needs, these opposites can become a sticking point in the relationship.
Here are some tools to keep in mind when you’re starting a new relationship, and wondering if it could blossom into something more:
· Don’t become disillusioned by how fun it is early on: Everything is cute in the beginning. Take off the rose-colored glasses, and come out of your endorphin coma and look at reality before you commit to something more long-term.
· Do not sacrifice core beliefs: Does the following sound familiar? “I really want children, but he doesn’t, but I just keep waiting for him to change his mind,” or “she said she never wanted to go to church, but I figured she would eventually warm up to the idea.” Pay attention to what your partner says and does. For the most part, people will tell you exactly who they are, and expecting them to act any differently is insanity.
· Stand up for your needs and opinions: At the beginning of a relationship, we all want to be the pleaser and seem amenable. As adorable as that may be, it can lead to heartbreak as you are not being honest with yourself in what you truly want. The more you talk about your true wants and desires, the easier it will be to decipher how matched you truly are.
It is not impossible for opposites to build a happy relationship, but you must be willing to put the work in, and potentially tap into more patience on a daily basis. Some people get turned on by a challenge, and the appeal of someone that thinks and acts so differently than your norm can feel like a fun puzzle to complete. Just remember that long-term, committed relationships are exactly that: long and committed. So, before you elope to Vegas with the cute guy or girl that appeals to your quirk quota, simply take a step back and double check that all of those out of sync idiosyncrasies add up to someone you’d like to wake up to every day.