Finding Common Ground

Finding Common Ground

Opposites attract; but how much can you compromise before it won't work?

We all know the old saying, "opposites attract." But can you really make a life with an omnivore who lives for bloody T-bones, when you're a vegan who knows 101 recipes for tempeh? What about someone who prefers the calm of country life, while you thrive in the chaos of the city?

Over at BlogHer, Zandria concludes that divergent preferences don't preclude a successful union: "Is it possible to have a relationship with someone that you may outwardly seem incompatible with? I say yes, even though there's nothing wrong with sharing the same interests." Amen to that.

And this brings us back to the settling debate. Back in March, Lori Gottlieb wrote a column for the Atlantic in which she urged women to stop holding out for the perfect man and settle for someone with whom you could have a content, if not deliriously happy, life. Her basic argument was that if you want a stable, reliable home life, you need to marry someone with whom you're compatible, even if that person doesn't make your palms sweat when he walks in the room.

But this opposites attract thing seems to sleep on both sides of the bed. You need someone who you can live with; in Gottlieb's words, "once you're married, it's not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it's about whom you want to run a household with." So it doesn't matter if you and your fiance have different interests. But! You also need someone who has the same goals in life that you do. It probably won't work if he desperately wants to homeschool seven kids when you've always dreamed about the peaceful life sans progeny.

So basically it comes down to this: some differences are ok and others aren't. A mundane conclusion for sure, but an important one. When you're trying to decide if he's the one, remember that some deal breakers might not seem so bad in the long run (a love of Elton John, not having a college degree), while certain lifestyle choices (preferences about retirement and children, for example) can make all the difference. The trick is figuring out what works for you.


Expert advice

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