Are You Alone Because of This Myth About Serious Relationships? – Part 1

In my experience, many singles who feel ready for a serious relationship often cherish ideas that are detrimental to their goal of finding someone with whom they can build a fulfilling and enriching relationship. Unless they break free from these ideas and misconceptions, they are bound to keep missing out on amazing opportunities to reach their goal.

Recently, a female friend asked me: “Should someone be looking for an “opposite”? Or do we match better with someone who is just like us [sic]?”

I want to address the “opposites attract” myth, which I believe, is to a great extent responsible for these types of questions.

I’m aware that people use the expression “opposites attract” in different contexts and to mean different things. Here, I want to focus on people – specifically women (since the questions came from one) – who struggle with the questions above.

Right off the bat, I want to say that the “opposites attract” myth is not, as some have come to believe, an infallible formula to apply to matters of the heart.

Disqualifying someone based on the impression that his personality, interests, ideas or what have you, are “just like” yours is unwise. Conversely, it’s also unwise to jump into a relationship simply because you think he’s an “opposite” – whatever “opposite” means to you.

The following quote encapsulates a great truth about all of us:

Every person is like every other person in some ways,

Every person is like some other persons in some ways,

Every person is like no other person is some ways.1

This means that whoever you consider for a serious relationship, he will be “just like you” in some ways and different (“opposite”) in some other ways. The important thing is: can you make the relationship work (i.e. build it in a way so that it’s fulfilling and enriching for both of you)?

After 15 years with my wife, Carlentz, I still don’t know whether we’re “just like each other” or “opposites”. I asked her the question just for fun, and she doesn’t know either. And quite frankly, it makes no difference to us. We’re “just like each other” in some ways and very different in other ways. What’s important to us is to make it work.

With this in mind, here are 3 things you can do to help you achieve your goal of building a fulfilling and enriching relationship:

  • Determine the criteria that are important to you (your non-negotiables). For example, because their faith is so important to them, some women will not engage in a serious relationship with an atheist. Others refuse to consider a man who doesn’t have a degree, a car and a JOB. And others would rather stay alone than to engage in a serious relationship with a man who doesn’t have sense of humour. You don’t have to agree with these criteria; determine your own.
  • Give him a chance to reveal who he is. Before you decide whether or not he’s a keeper, give him a fair chance to show you who he is. As he reveals his true self, you’ll notice his strengths and his weaknesses; some will be similar to yours and others will be different. One question you should ask yourself is: “Can I live with a man with these weaknesses?”
  • Take the time to learn what makes serious relationships work. The people you admire because they have an awesome relationship with their significant other do many big and little things to make their relationship work. They too have challenges and disagreements. But like wise architects, they’ve built a solid foundation on which they erected their relationship and they’re constantly maintaining and enhancing what they’ve built.

If your goal is to build a vibrant, serious relationship, I would recommend not to let the “opposites attract” myth make you reject someone prematurely or jump into a relationship to hastily. Be clear about what you’re looking for, give the man a chance to reveal who he is, and learn what you need to learn to ensure your relationship succeeds.

Question: What qualities make for a fulfilling and enriching relationship? You can leave a comment below.

1 Kluckhohn and Murray: Personality in Nature, Society, and Culture; David E. Hunt: To Be a Friend: The Key to Friendship in Our Lives

Note: Click here to read Part 2.