Opposites may attract, but is it GOOD for your relationship?
The old adage, “opposites attract” is something we’ve all heard so often, we readily think it's true. Yet this piece of “wisdom” isn’t as simple as it sounds when it is applied to love, dating and relationships.
“Opposites attract” seems reasonable enough when we think of the yin and yang of male and female energy, but what does it really mean for relationship sustainability?
In the recent Live Science article, researcher Scott Rick and his colleagues decided to survey 1000 married and unmarried adults about one such opposite trait — spending habits. Their discovery; people tend to choose their spending opposites as romantic partners. How does this work out? Their study found that these financial opposites had greater conflicts over money and lower marital satisfaction long-term.
In my experience this generally accepted wisdom is a marriage myth. The more opposing traits a couple has the higher likelihood there is for conflict.
In Chapter Fourteen of The Art of Attracting Authentic Love, this myth is discussed as a serious barrier to long-term harmony and compatibility for a couple. Finding a mutually satisfying balance between similar and opposing views, habits and desires is critical and looks different for everyone.
How a couple decides to spend their time, money, energy and anything else they value is what creates a fun, supportive and sustainable relationship or creates the fuel for routine conflict. He may hate sushi and you may love it with no real harm to the relationship, but if he wants to spend every vacation camping and hiking and you’d like to relax in a comfortable hotel on the beach, trouble isn’t far away.
I know this one from personal painful experience. Of course there is always more than one issue in any couple’s conflict dynamic, but ask yourself — just how many opposites are you really willing to live with? The number will not be the same for every couple, but you’ll need to decide when the conflict outweighs the pleasure.
To help with this decision, I’ve put together the following three questions:
1. Can I see myself living with this behavior long-term?
Yes, he may be willing to give up negative behaviors like smoking, but remember it’s not possible to change another person. You can influence their desire for better living, but real change only happens if they want it for themselves. Untreated additions and abusive behaviors are just two of the deal breakers I hope are on your list of unacceptable and unlikely to change behaviors.
2. Does this difference happen daily or only occasionally?
He is on his best behavior when you’re dating because he is pursuing you, but please don’t think he’s going to change something overnight (or perhaps ever) when you get married. If his opposing behavior is a daily occurrence how are you going to feel about it and him long-term?
3. Does this opposing issue affect any of my core values?
Going back to the example of spending habits, if you value financial security, like to plan and save and he lives only in the moment spending freely on whatever he desires, how will this play out for your future happiness and security? You probably already know that money, sex and children are the top three reasons couples part ways.
Yes, opposites may attract, but happy long-term love relationships are sustained by a balance shifted to the side of "substantial compatibility."
You can read more about author, Gayla Wick’s concept of “substantial compatibility” in her new book, The Art of Attracting Authentic Love (A Transformational Four Step Process). You’re invited to connect with her at GaylaWick.com.