When I’m mad, you know it. When I’m worried, you know it. When I’m on top of the world, you can’t miss it!
While I’m not convinced we’re “opposites” exactly – there are many ways that we are different, not the least of which is the way we work, personal style, neatness around the house, and preferences for quiet time.
So why is it that opposites attract, and if they do, what keeps them together?
Naturally, we need to define our terms. Are we speaking of physical attributes or personality types? Do we include the fact that he may be a soccer fanatic and yours truly prefers reading references on treen? What about his demeanor that is measured in the face of unexpected events – Mr. Cool-Calm-and-Collected – when I’m ready to spit bullets, or for that matter, jump for joy?
Now don’t get me wrong. He’s an easygoing guy and can express exuberance. But he’s far more adept at displaying a neutral expression than I am. He also doesn’t sweat the small stuff, though I suspect he does (or once did) in certain situations.
The bottom line: His emotions are under control at times when I’m wearing mine on my sleeve. Then I wonder how he manages to avoid – or camouflage – the ruffled feathers and frustration I experience easily.
They say opposites attract. That’s a fairly sweeping statement, given that it covers everything from tall-short to fair-dark to extroverted-introverted… not to mention how we handle fury, jubilation, and every emotion in between.
Opposite (or differing) personalities in relationships are fascinating, don’t you think? Why is the quiet, conservative man drawn to the flashy, sassy non-conformist? Why is the woman of few words comfortably paired with Mr. Chatty? What about the stereotypical Narcissist who finds the audience he or she needs in a partner with tendencies to be overly giving?
Isn’t the answer in part a matter of finding something admirable in the other that we don’t possess ourselves? Is that too simplistic?
This reference at Web MD sums things up nicely, pointing out the logic that we can have opposite views, varying interests, and distinctly different personalities as we
… look for a complement, not someone identical…
Opposites? Not Exactly. Differences.
When it comes to good relationships that endure, my experience is that character, values, and libido must be in sync. Say what?
Think about it. If one of you is a stickler for rules and honesty, while the other replaces truth with creative non-fiction, no matter how great the chemistry is, eventually you’ll butt heads. That boyish (or girlish) “irresponsible charm?” That, too, will wear you down when Real Life requires a partner you can count on. She wants sex twice a day and he’s content with twice a month? Again, you’re in for a struggle – or a helluva negotiation process in the years to come.
And thus my usual refrain – repeat after me – character, values, and similar libido are essential ingredients for a shot at an enduring relationship.
Excitement? Mutual interest?
I believe you can retain those – with attentiveness, effort, and a sense of humor. But fundamentals are difficult to nudge (without major life events causing a person to pull a 180). So if so-called “opposites” seem to attract and share a lasting relationship – the Amazonian woman with the short man, the nerdy guy with the gregarious model – my money is on the existence of far more similarities of a core nature than we might suspect.
Why We Love the People We Love
I’ve never liked the notion of ones ‘other half;’ it implies that we are not whole into ourselves. Yet I understand the yin and yang that lends compatibility when two people understand differences in each other and those differences somehow ‘fit.’
To a degree, it seems unavoidable that we love others for who we think they are, for who we want them to be, for who they are with us – and for all the ways we are different as well as similar in interests, approach, experience, beliefs.
And by the way, don’t we love our children with our eyes more open than in the case of our partners? After all, in addition to the fierce bond of parenthood, we have raised them and known them in all their unguarded glory – the good with the not so good.
But our boyfriends, girlfriends, paramours, spouses? My even-tempered, rolls-his-eyes-as-I-emote significant other?
There’s no explaining the complete “je ne sais quoi” of how and why two people get together, stay together, and keep all the good stuff alive. But I’m convinced of this: Only time will reveal who a person truly is. And let’s hope that what appears on the surface to be “opposite” (and irresistible) in the early years remains as intriguing as ever, while the fundamentals sustain what is similar as well as complementary.
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