Opposites Attract: Here’s When It Works And When It Doesn’t

March 20, 2018  |  
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Even if you and your partner don’t consider yourselves opposites, if you broke down and dissected your personalities, you’d probably find that you are fundamentally different in a lot of ways. And why shouldn’t you be? If you were with someone exactly like you then you wouldn’t get much out of the relationship. I am not even really a fan of the word “opposites” in the phrase “opposites” attract because, ultimately, I see these pairs as more complimentary, supplementary, or symbiotic. Rather than being contrary to each other, like negative and positive ends of a magnet, they fill in gaps in one another traits and behaviors. Like two puzzle pieces that fit together, one has what the other one needs, and visa versa. But we all know what happens when you try to jam the wrong ends of two otherwise compatible puzzle pieces together—you get angry and throw them at the wall. So, when opposites attract, here’s when it works and when it doesn’t.

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You can chill out a worrier

If you’re a very relaxed person who doesn’t fixate on things you cannot control and lets most issues roll of your back, you can be great for a worrier. When your worrier is freaking out that this coworker may have misinterpreted something he said or that this part of his life won’t pan out, you know just what to say to put it all in perspective and bring him back to the present.

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But a worrier can stress you out

I’m a chill person who is in love with a worrier. When he worries about things that don’t directly affect our relationship, I can always talk him down. But sometimes he worries about things that do affect us. For example, he’s made us take a hideously early plane flight to a wedding because he thought it would be perceived as rude if we were “only two hours early.” So I got to sleep a total of three hours before that wedding so we could take a flight that would put us in eight hours early. See the problem there? His anxiety bled into my life.


And the chill one can seem insensitive

Because my partner is a very nervous person, when he freaks out about something, I err on the side of thinking he is overreacting. Nine times out of ten, I am correct. But when that one time comes around that he’s not overreacting, and I don’t treat his worry as important, he thinks I’m an insensitive b*tch.


The ambitious one can motivate the not-so-ambitious one

If you have a hard time feeling motivated to go after your dreams, a super ambitious partner can help you feel more driven. Watching him work hard will inspire you and energize you.

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The ambitious one can be a workaholic

Of course, there has to be balance in life. And sometimes your ambitious partner really is making a personal mistake by putting work before an important personal matter. But he doesn’t believe you because you have a tendency to put all personal matters before work. So you can’t win that argument.

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The hermit teaches the social butterfly to relax

I’m a social butterfly who can sometimes overdo it on my social calendar, leaving no time to relax. I’ve dated hermits who taught me to relax, make more time for downtime, and enjoy simple evenings in.


The social butterfly pushes the hermit

Sometimes I did force the hermit to come out with me. I had to! I still needed to see friends, and I wanted to be with him. But when I took him out, I felt I needed to babysit him. I was frustrated with him because I felt he wasn’t making an effort with my friends, and he was irritated with me for dragging him out.


The hermit bores the social butterfly

When I met my hermit more than halfway, I’d begin to resent him. I’d just scroll through friends’ social media accounts, envious of all the fun they were having socializing. My hermit, on his own, wasn’t enough to keep me entertained.

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The tramp gives the lady perspective

I mean tramp in the less offensive, Disney movie way like street dog. I’ve seen my rather high-maintenance, superficial-tending friends wind up with men of modest means, who didn’t care at all about trends or going places where they could see and be seen. And these guys were great for my friends—they taught them what really mattered in life.


The lady makes the tramp feel bad

But I’ve also seen it happen that a high maintenance person just hopes to change their humble partner, and is embarrassed of the way he naturally is. Nobody ends up feeling good under those circumstances.


The goofball and the conservative

In my friend group, I’m considered the wild card. You never know what sort of trouble I’ll get into. I’ve dated rather reserved, conservative guys who celebrated that about me. I brought a lightness and entertainment to their life that wasn’t otherwise there.


The conservative tames the goof

I’ve also dated reserved guys who ultimately wanted to tame me, to tell me to behave myself, to tell me not to dress like that or act like that. That made me pretty upset because, hey, they knew what they were getting into!

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The goofball can push the conservative

I’ve admittedly crossed some boundaries in the past with reserved guys. They didn’t ask me to tone things down, so it wasn’t fair of me to ask them to be wilder…but I did, and they felt disrespected.

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The frugal educates the spendthrift

I may or may not have a small shopping addiction. Okay, a big one. My partner is very fiscally responsible and he has encouraged me to really cut back on the spending. He’s shown me many times how silly some of my purchases were, and I’m grateful to him for it—as is my bank account.

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The frugal restricts everybody

While my frugal partner has talked me out of silly purchases, he’s also tried to talk me out of necessary and smart ones. For example, sometimes paying an extra $100 for a plane ticket is worth it when the cheaper option involves a seven-hour layover, during which time, we’ll easily spend nearly $100 on food and drinks at the airport waiting around. But my partner doesn’t see things that way.

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