We’ve all heard the old adage that “opposites attract.” There is definitely some truth to this, and many relationships comprise a mix of interesting, if not totally different, personality traits.
Having the opposite qualities of your partner can bring pros and cons, and it's important to find a balance between your differences in order to maintain a healthy dynamic.
Many of us are attracted to people surprisingly different than ourselves. Dating or marrying someone different than you can certainly add to your life, but it can also provide some internal struggles as well. Striking a balance and determining which opposing qualities are helpful and which are going to cause unnecessary tension is imperative for the success of your sanity and your relationship.
Differences That Add to Your Lives
Variety is the spice of life, and some differences between you and your partner will undoubtedly add to your relationship and life together. Being with someone different pushes you outside of your comfort zone and encourages you to try new things you would have previously left unexplored. Maybe one of you loves the outdoors, and the other would be fine never going outside, but when you are in a committed and caring relationship you make an effort to try the things the other person likes.
Sometimes you may not end up enjoying the activity as much as your partner, but the effort made will most likely be appreciated. In the best case scenario, the person trying something different might even find that they enjoy the thing or activity that their partner likes. This could be something as simple as going for a walk along the beach when you aren’t super outdoorsy, trying a new ethnic cuisine when your go-to is always a burger, or folding the laundry in a different but more efficient way. These little things can open your eyes to new experiences or different ways of doing things. These situations may never arise in a relationship where both people do things in similar ways or enjoy the same things.
Striking a balance and determining which opposing qualities are helpful and which are going to cause unnecessary tension is imperative for the success of your sanity and your relationship.
In both marriage and more serious relationships, intrinsic differences can be helpful in solving problems and dealing with the stresses and changes of life. My husband is cautious and calculated in his decision making, but I tend to rush into things and hastily make decisions in order to move on to the next thing. I’m the gas, and he is the brake. This is not to say that he is boring or prevents me from doing things, but every car needs both a gas and a brake pedal, and we use our strengths in the appropriate times and places.
Without him, I know I would quickly make impulsive decisions I would regret, and I push him to pull the trigger on things he may have talked himself out of entirely. While these differences can sometimes be difficult to deal with in the moment and especially in times of tension, they also allow for the recognition of the different perspectives your opposite qualities and reactions bring. If you're willing and able to step back for a second, these differences can bear great fruit in your lives.
Not All Differences Are Good
Dating is the time when you and your partner are able to figure out if the differences you have are reconcilable and beneficial for you as individuals and as a couple. Like I said above, some differences can definitely add to your life and bring numerous benefits, but there are some that may bring unnecessary strife and conflict.
There is a balance between both small and big differences, and finding where to draw the line between which issues are a big deal and which ones aren’t can be tricky. If one of you prefers staying at home and the other enjoys going out, there may be times when one of you can sacrifice for the other and move outside of your comfort zone. The difficulty arises when one of you absolutely can’t stand going out or conversely feels like staying in is complete drudgery.
Some differences can definitely add to your life and bring numerous benefits, but there are some that may bring unnecessary strife and conflict.
Being able to sustain a life together will, of course, mean doing things your partner likes, but if one of you is constantly miserable when doing some of the daily activities the other enjoys then your relationship has a tough road ahead. It's worth genuinely assessing how many non-preferential activities you can realistically participate in with your partner, and how many are going to be constant causes of tension for the two of you.
The little daily differences that bring frustration are important to consider, as are the bigger discrepancies that need to be taken seriously. Extreme differences in politics, religion, and worldviews are going to add serious difficulties to your relationship that would be avoided if you had similar views on these topics. Some couples certainly do parse through these differences, but it isn’t without much work and conscious effort.
If you and your partner don’t think you can or aren’t willing to work through these differences, then you may want to seriously consider the future of your relationship. When it comes to major differences, it's crucial to remember that it's unfair (and unrealistic) to anticipate that your partner will potentially change their views. Not only should you be invested in loving your partner as they are now, but expecting or hoping that they will change only leads to disappointment and resentment.
Not only should you be invested in loving your partner as they are now, but expecting or hoping that they will change only leads to disappointment and resentment.
Far too often people enter into marriage thinking the other will change in regards to views on anything from wanting kids to being a chronic spender who the other hopes will someday learn to be more frugal. People definitely grow, and change, and sometimes these opinions and habits do change, but anticipating intrinsic changes in personalities or desires is a dangerous risk to take on something as serious as a life-long commitment. The biggest cause of divorce is “irreconcilable differences,” and I have to wonder how many of these differences were known beforehand yet brushed aside anyways.
Finding a balance between adding a little variety to your life and not making yourself miserable may not be easy, but it's certainly necessary for maintaining a happy relationship and creating a sustainable life with your significant other.