How Opposites Can Make it Work


You meet that person and sparks fly so hard you feel faint when you are with them.
They suck you outside your comfort zone so hard and so fast, your head spins. You KNOW what you’re doing is madness by your normal personality standards but your normal personality goes into hiding when you are with this person.

In fact, you KNOW you’re acting the fool.

You’re afraid of heights and there you are…going rock climbing.
You are the most frugal person in your country but you somehow justify the last paycheck you just spent on something that has this other person written all over it.
You do NOT do pets but this person has now made you love daisy their cat or buster their dog.

You don’t even know how you’re going to explain this to your friends …terrified they might fall over in laughter.

Opposites attract.

Illustration by: Joao Rocha – 2 kinds of people

Some like to eat pizza from the tip and others from the crust.

Opposites attract.

That’s not news. The question is…how do they sustain? How do you make it last? Or is being opposite a death warrant for the relationship/marriage?

Yes and No.

There are tons of reasons why we may end up with someone who is way different from us. Sometimes, it just happens that way. Sometimes it happens because we are escaping the pain/frustration that we perceive was caused by being with someone who was too much like us, and sometimes we fall for someone who is different from us because we love how they make us act differently and push us into new experiences. There are a ton of reasons.

However, “falling” is never the hard part. Its the KEEPING that’s hard.

Why is this so? Well, because I have found that:

IT IS THE OFTEN THE VERY THINGS THAT ATTRACT OPPOSITES, THAT EVENTUALLY BEGIN TO REPEL THEM.

You are outgoing and spontaneous. You fall in love with them because they are reserved and calculated. Then when the cloud settles, you are frustrated because you feel they are too reserved and calculated.

You are a thinker and they are a doer. You fall in love with them because they don’t get trapped in thinking and can just DO. Then the cloud settles, and they drive you crazy because you feel they are doing too much without thinking enough.

You get the picture.

Here are a few tips on how to make it work when you are opposite.

1) BOTH of you need to ACKNOWLEDGE that you ARE different

What happens many times is that we get along so well that we start to think “perhaps maybe we are not that different”. This will be true in many ways but the reality is that you ARE different. Acknowledging those differences is the only way you will be able to adjust for those differences.

2) BOTH of you need to see the VALUE in those differences

I say the same thing when I teach this in the workplace.
It’s one thing to know you are different. Its another ballgame entirely to see value in those differences. This is the only way you will be appreciative of, and consistent in adjusting for those differences.

3) BOTH of you need to DECIDE the line of compromise

Differences are great…in fact, NEEDED in relationships. However, when it comes to the issue of values, there may be some areas where you are not really as flexible (and that’s OK). Those areas just need to be fully discussed with EMPATHY (keyword) for each other.
In my (still free) ebook, How To Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned: A Guide To Avoiding Relationship Frustration, I talk about the C.E.W Formula (Context.Expression.Weight) in terms of how to look at values. If you haven’t yet, you absolutely need to read that. Get it HERE

4) BOTH of you need to EXPLORE each other’s differences

Intentionally (keyword) take a trip to each other’s world once in a while.
The word “intentionally” there means that you are open to new experiences and those new experiences don’t just jump out of the bushes of your relationship and yell “BOO”. No.
It means you (In your conscious mind) say…take me into your world. Let’s do what YOU like to do. I know I’m not comfortable dancing in public but take me dancing this Friday…or whatever.

5) BOTH of you need to FOCUS more on what makes you the same than what makes you different

Not only is this an important way to deal with conflict, but it is also an important way to prevent conflict from happening.
The differences should be identified, they should be valued and they should be explored. Make no mistake though…you want to do that and more with the similarities. Let me put it this way:

The similarities you identify, value and explore, are worth twice as much as the differences you identify, value and explore.
(TWEET THAT)

Furthermore,

It is the similarities you identify, value and explore that will save your relationship/marriage from the differences you have.
(TWEET THAT)

6) BOTH of you need to DE-WEAPONIZE your differences

Many people use differences as weapons in relationships and marriages.
People use differences as excuses not to care, not to try, not to change, not to listen.
They use their difference as a weapon to hurt the other. You could be doing this and not even realize it.

You have an argument at home, you go to dinner at the neighbors, and you can’t help it. You open your mouth and vomit out everything that happened in your bedroom.
Or you’re the quiet one. You both have an argument, and for 2 days, you use silence like a knife and you cut the other outgoing, wants-to-talk-person, in a thousand places.
Don’t weaponize your differences.

I wrote a piece some time ago about “8 Excuses You Should Stop Making in Your Relationship or Marriage”. You should read that ASAP. CLICK HERE to go there.

7) BOTH of you need to understand TIMING when it comes to your differences

Hidden in these differences, are strengths that the relationship can pull from.
However, its a matter of timing. There are times when your difference will be really useful for the relationship and then there are other times when your differences will be disastrous.
You both need to get that.

This is what helps you focus on WE, not I.
That means if an important decision needs to be made, the spontaneous person needs to make space for the calculated person. However, when that calculation is likely to erode the time or resources available, the spontaneous person may need to step in so that a decision CAN be made.

So there you have it.
Take a moment to comment below…

What has your experience been with “differences”?
Which one of these was most interesting, surprising or relevant to you?

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