As a child of the ‘80s, how can I not reference Paula Abdul’s hit song “Opposites Attract” for this piece? It makes a lot of sense when Paula says, “We go together cuz opposites attract.”
Being drawn to someone who demonstrates qualities and habits that are the opposite of you can be very enticing—especially in the beginning of a relationship.
They’re refreshingly exciting and different!
They spice things up and challenge you in such an intriguing manner. You find their love for ‘60s décor in EVERY room and failure to have Christmas decorations down by March a little strange compared to your organized and modern style. But it’s mostly endearing when the addictive serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine hits are firing on all cylinders in your brain.
But can opposite partners work long-term?
It depends on what the opposite qualities are and if you’re BOTH willing to make compromises and commit to accepting your partner for who they are. It’s also helpful to look for ways your partner’s opposite qualities can benefit both of you while navigating your differences.
Of course, there’s always an exception to every rule. But when it comes to the dynamic of someone being a huge partier while their partner doesn’t drink at all, or someone is uber religious and their partner doesn’t believe, or if one partner is emotionally unavailable while the other is available—in my experience, I’ve never seen these types of couples succeed.
So what opposites can succeed and how? Here are four examples:
The Night Owl and The Early Morning Rooster
I think this comes down to making the most out of the time that you are spending together. Are you consciously connecting in the shared time you’re awake? It’s important to respect each other’s reasoning and desires for opposite sleep patterns.
Keep in mind that this dynamic is separate from the partier and the non-partier, which again, I’ve never seen work. Sometimes my partner loves to unwind by watching late-night television while I’m fast asleep next to him, and I love it. But I would not love it if he was out partying or even in the other room partying!
I completely support and understand why he likes to go to bed later. And he respects that my creative juices are at their peak in the early morning and that my early, quiet, private time while he sleeps is sacred to me.
The Spender and the Penny Pincher
Compromise will definitely be a biggie in this dynamic, as well as a genuine understanding of why your partner is a particular way with money. The relationship between the spender and the saver will work as long as there’s actual money to be spent by the spender! There are clear wins for both parties in this dynamic. The spender learns a deeper level of money consciousness, and the saver gets to perhaps loosen up and live a little instead of constantly being in a scarcity mentality.
The Mess-Maker and the Neat Freak
As a bit of a mess-maker myself, I’m actually biased towards the neat freak. Keeping things neat, tidy and in order never hurt anyone. One could argue that neither does a mess, but if it’s important to the neat freak that you do your best to keep things a little straighter, could it hurt you to get on board?
Now, if you’re the neat freak and can’t stand the mess your partner is making, you’ll have to accept being the overall straightener and manage your mind around your partner accordingly. My take on this: If your partner satisfies you in every other way, and their messiness or neatness is their most annoying trait, you’re pretty lucky and for sure can make this relationship work!
The Extrovert and The Introvert
The extrovert and introvert really need to become great at taking one for the team. Sometimes, the introvert will have to step out of her comfort zone and say yes to events, even though she’d rather crawl into her comfy hole. The extrovert will have to be willing to say no to some of his extensive invites.
Another way to make this opposite pairing work: Each person must be OK with one staying home while the other goes out on occasion. As always, both must have a genuine understanding and acceptance of how the other person is wired.
The Optimist and The Pessimist
This is a tricky dynamic to navigate in a romantic relationship, but it’s definitely doable! The pessimist and the optimist will need to be deeply self-aware about their respective negativity and positivity. It’s easy to clock how annoying your partner is when they’re the opposite of you. But in this specific case of opposites, the pessimist and the optimist must acknowledge their glass half-full, half-empty perspectives and recognize that some skepticism or worry isn’t always a bad thing and being Positive Penelope all the time might be delusional.
I certainly don’t wanna sound like a pessimist when I say I don’t believe that love can be enough in a relationship—especially when it comes to opposites attracting if you’re not consciously working through your differences, big or small. Compromise and a sincere desire to keep each other happy without sacrificing who you are will always be key, even if you’re both pretty compatible across the board!
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