The Real Reason Opposites Attract (Plus: How To Bridge Your Biggest Differences)

Variety is sexy.

Happy couples often cite common interests, shared values, and strong communications as the glue that keeps them together. It may indeed be easier to be in a relationship with someone more like you.

But, easier may not be as exciting, fulfilling, or rewarding!

Your pheromones may have led you to a partner or something entirely different connected the two of you. One theory is that we search for the missing part of us, something we have yet to fully develop in ourselves. And, we are unable to repel the magnetic pull:

  • A quiet, reserved person is attracted to a fun-loving extrovert.
  • A messy person is drawn to a tidy, organized person.
  • A rule follower is enamored by a risk taker.
  • A flighty person gravitates to someone who is stable and grounded.

 



That said, the same characteristics that drew you to a person can later become a source of frustration. For example, you once waited excitedly and in anticipation of your boyfriend’s arrival for your date. Now, you get ticked off at them for being self-absorbed, continually late, and dismissive of the impact on you.

Or, you, who likes to be the life of the party, have enjoyed the occasional night staying in with your homebody. But after several months, it’s getting monotonous and you can’t wait to get out and explore a night on the town.

Another possible scenario: What you once appreciated about your mate’s extroversion — breaking the ice and talking to anyone — now seems like endless chatter to you, the introvert.

Do opposites attract? Do you want to appreciate and leverage your differences again, see each other with fresh eyes, and get back that spark that connected you in the first place?

Knowing your Myers-Briggs® personality type and your partner’s type may be the key to bliss. Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs created 16 personality types based on various combinations of 4 opposite scales.

Each examines what energizes you, how you prefer to gather information, how you go about making decisions, and how you interact with the world:

  • You might get your energy from interactions with others (extraversion) or quiet periods of reflection (introversion).
  • You might prefer to gather information about what is (sensing) versus what could be (intuition).
  • You might prefer to make decisions logically and objectively (thinking) or based on what you value and the unique circumstances of a situation (feeling).
  • Perhaps, the dimension that creates the most conflict between couples is the one that deals with how you interact with the world. You might prefer to organize your life, plan activities and get closure on decisions (judging). The polar opposite is a preference to keep your options open and be flexible and spontaneous (perceiving). Often those with a preference for perceiving feel closed in by a judger’s need for control, while those with a judging inclination could feel disrespected by their partner’s perceived lack of commitment.

Certain combinations can work well in romantic relationships. For example, sensing judgers may honor their commitments more than other types. Intuitive Feelers may devote themselves to open communications. Feelers may place a priority on their relationships and how their actions impact others.



Additionally, having the same preference for how you gather information may be a key determinant of longevity. I’ve had clients tell me that when they met someone of the same sensing type, they felt immediately understood. They’d found their soulmate.

Don’t be discouraged one way or the other. Having just a few of the same preferences is enough to enable you to relate while still experiencing the positives of the differences.

 

And beyond that, couples who don’t jump to conclusions quickly and come into the relationship with curiosity are less likely to allow differences to become a source of conflict. Instead, they view them as assets.

Preferences can become less relevant over time, as you age and mature, psychologically. The key to relationship happiness is riding the wave, being open, and getting through potential misunderstandings.

Practically speaking, it means stopping yourself before you meltdown over your significant other’s words or actions. When your spontaneous mate can’t commit to a plan for your upcoming vacation, just breathe and recall what made you fall in love with him in the first place. You’ll end up doing something fun. Be patient and let his pressure-prompted inspiration kick in!

Always remember the spark that ignited from your opposite personality.

And finally, ask yourself these critical questions:

  1. Is my life more complete and whole with this person?
  2. While sometimes complicated, do I want to see my partner as a unique, fantastic being?

If you answered “yes,” then you’re halfway there to accepting your partner (and yourself) for who you are and what you each bring to your love match. Let your similarities stabilize and unite you, and allow your opposite ways continue to exhilarate you.


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