Okay, here is the situation: imagine you and your partner go buy a closet at Ikea. Now, we all know that the handbooks Ikea includes with their furniture are pretty fool-proof; anyone should be able to have that closet standing in no time at all if they follow the instructions step by step, with the doors hanging straight, gently closing and all. Theoretically, thats certainly true. If my wife and I attempt to put something up together the calm Swedish scene more often than not turns out looking like an Afghan war zone. My wife and I are both Alphas. Luckily, that isn’t true for ALL aspects of our life – there are plenty of things in which I follow her lead and just as many in which she is happy to have me take the lead. That almost automatic role distribution fails drastically every time we attempt any kind of “project” – whether thats building furniture ouselves, putting something up, creating a new flower bed or the firepit in the yard and please, please, please don’t remind me of the 3 hours it took us to put up our Intex Ultraframe Pool …..;-)
Really, it’s funny. Right now, looking back on all of these situations from the safety of my couch with a hot cup of coffee and my wife working behind her laptopscreen a few feet from me, everything feels calm and harmonious and I can actually see the humor in these Alpha fights. When we are in it? Not so much 😉
What seems to be the problem then? Well, first of all we can both be terribly arrogant (;-)) in being totally and utterly convinced of the fact that we both know exactly how something works. Basically, my wife knows best. Funny, though, because so do I 😉 . We are both really handy and skilled with power pools and manual labor; we have both done quite a bit of it during our first 40 or so life years. So it stands to reason that we BOTH know HOW since we have BOTH done that BEFORE. And I will tell you that our approaches couldn’t be more polar opposites 🙂
The end results are always – and I mean always – great; they really are. The way to get there is always rocky – I mean, I will be honest with you – during the Intex stunt we were on the brink of divorce at least five times 😉 (If you wanna know how THAT went you can read up on it here!)
The question is: how important is it to be SIMILAR? You have two people end up in a relationship with each other that come from different backgrounds, have led different lives with different experiences – how likely and “good” is it to end up with someone who is like you in contrast to someone who really isn’t? See, my wife and I clash over Ikea because beside wanting to be the Alpha in those things, we really do have completely different approaches.
As we enter into the dating pool on the lookout for “the one” and later in life after divorces when we start anew in midlife we all come across that question; should I look for someone who “gets” me or should I look for my polar opposite? I bet that a lot of people would find it easy to answer that one because sure thing, you’d want to have someone at your side who “gets” you. Really? Hmmmmmm. Sorry, people, but I can’t agree with that one! I really think we have to be a bit more differentiated here. I believe from the very core of my being that if we want a relationship to be along-lasting, safe and steady one we should be looking for a significant other who shares the same “core values”. Those are your guiding principles – they dictate your behavior and action, let you know RIGHT from WRONG and guide you on your life’s journey.
I find it of utmost importance that my wife and I feel the same about the importance of family, our “role” as parents, how we care for our animals and children and for each other; we share a belief in science, in creating a happy and safe home for us and our children where, even though we all follow a certain set of “rules”, the individuality remains to live, grow and become who we are meant to be without being judged or hindered in our developments. We both believe in love and in each other. And there are many other examples of core values that we share. And yet, we are completely different people 😉 – and it is important to understand that one doesn’t “block” the other!
Why Polar Opposites Work
I believe that if you enter into a relationship with someone who isn’t very much like you, it can go either one of two ways: you can either really crash and burn really fast or you plow through all up’s and down’s together and actually create a chance to learn from each other and become more complete individuals!
- You’ll learn new ideas that will strengthen what you already believe in or challenge you to think differently. With my wife’s approach to solving problems and life in general I get new perspectives. Sometimes I will end up agreeing with her; sometimes I won’t. But there’s nothing that strengthens your own opinions more (or makes you question them more) than having someone challenge them.
Perhaps your partner will confront you with an idea you completely disagree with, which will then allow you to strengthen what you already believe in. Or perhaps your partner will introduce you to something new, and it will change your opinion.
As long as there’s a curiosity to learn and a mutual respect for each other’s differences, exchanging new ideas will be the best part of your relationship. Example? We have a bunch of old pallets laying around. I came up with the idea to build a small pool deck so we could all jump into the pool more easily rather than having to climb up the ladder and wait in a row 😉 My wife initially thought it was a dumb idea and that it would look like a colossal piece of sh** in our yard :-). Hm. I asked her to think about it and I figured maybe she is right; last weekend, out of the blue, she started lugging pallets to the pool to which I then was first a bit opposed to and miffed (after all, MY idea had first been dissed!); we decided to give it a go and we ended up building the deck togther (no divorce ;-)) which is now in the process of being painted :-). the kids LOVE it and we both think it looks great ….! Moral of the story? See above 😉
- You’ll sharpen your communication skills. Polar opposites tend to communicate differently, so it’s important you guys have top-notch communication skills and work on strengthening them throughout the course of your relationship. And I’m not just talking about making sure to always communicate how you feel, though that is extremely important. You also must be able to understand the ways your partner communicates how he or she feels. My wife and I still misunderstand each other on regular occassion after many years because yeah, she said / she heard in our case can be just as polar opposite as we are! So watch language and tone and get to know your partner and you’ll eventually get there :-). What you learn here about your own communication skills you can then transfer to any given relationship in your life! It will work wonders for you, I promise!
- Calming down or motivating: If you and your partner are opposites, your personalities likely are, too. This means you’ll always have somebody to pump you up to be confident if you’re timid or shy, or to calm you down if you’re anxious or uptight. And your partner’s efforts to balance you out won’t take too much energy, either, because he or she will naturally be the yin to your yang.
- Developing your skills in Sympathy and Empathy : two really important qualities in a person. Sympathetic and empathic people are more understanding, are kinder, and form better relationships with the people around them. The key to becoming sympathetic/empathic is having an ability to understand different perspectives – if you are with someone who is your polar opposite that is part of your everyday life!
- More than just surface-level things in common: Any two people can share a love for a certain movie or music artist, but it takes a real connection to develop something deeper. You and your partner might not have everything in common when it comes to music, hobbies, tastes – but who cares? You have incredible conversations, you are unbelievably sexually compatible, you have an immense curiosity in one another. This will be great in helping you not get bored with routine. Your partner will introduce you to new artists, movies and TV shows you never knew existed, to new foods, new travel destinations, new hobby ideas. The possibilities are endless! So, if you are out there and currently dating someone or are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t just go along with everything you suggest, you have different ideas, like different things – here is your chance to EXPAND YOUR MIND AND YOUR HORIZON! 🙂 Stop bitching about it 😉 This could end up to be the best thing that ever happened to you!
I need to remember that sentence for my wife’s and my next project 😉
So, no matter if you look at your romantic relationships or anything else in the world around you – let us all celebrate our differences and try to LEARN from one another instead of condemning what we don’t know because it is just outside our comfort zones!
I would LOVE to hear from you all – have you found your polar opposite? Are you dating and if yes, what do you look for in a potential partner? Do you agree or disagree with me? Very much looking forward to your comments!