If Opposites Attract, Why Do They Retract?

Falling in love is easy. But maintaining it can be hard. Let’s take a look at Tim and Lily’s story to see how the sweet love at the beginning becomes frustrating for them.

Tim and Lily are colleagues. They had no trouble falling for one another after meeting in their workplace.

It all went very well at first but soon they found that they were quite different from each other.

Opposites retract

Opposites attract and that’s what helped them get together. But now it’s setting them apart. Little things like booking a table for dinner begin to be an issue.

Lily wants to book the table just to have peace of mind and not worry about having to wait in line. Tim on the other hand doesn’t see it as such a big deal. If there is a line, they have plenty of other options. Besides, spontaneity can be fun!

Punctuality, organization;  these are both grounds for disagreement if they can’t manage to see eye to eye. They love each other, but they are frustrated. Lily can’t understand why Tim doesn’t appreciate the convenience of planning ahead. Tim can’t understand why Lily can’t just go with the flow.

What they don’t realize is that they are evaluating each other’s behavior based on their own standards and upbringing.

We are products of our upbringing

Tim grew up in a loosely disciplined family. As the youngest of three siblings, he had a lot of leniency. He was a smart kid, but he wasn’t exactly the model student nor the best behaved. Regardless, he was very passionate about computer programming. His motivation landed him his dream job as an engineer within a startup company.

Tim is a free spirit. He goes where his heart leads him and isn’t bound by rules and plans. He is satisfied with his life and a job he likes. He doesn’t see anything wrong with his standards because he is happy with where he is.

Lily on the other hand grew up in a strict household. The eldest of her siblings, the pressure to lead by example was always on her. She likes for everything to be planned ahead of time and is very, very organized. She was a straight A student who got into a great university. Eventually she became a product manager in the same startup company as Tim.

As a very disciplined person, she works hard to ensure that everything goes as planned. She has a good job and is living well, so she is very happy with her life and standards of living.

Our standards are formed by how we are raised. All families function differently. We are all a product of the environment that we were raised in. How we are raised absolutely defines our standards, so it makes sense that people with different upbringing would have different standards. They are so ingrained in us that we don’t realize that we may judge others for not having the same standards as ourselves.

What works for you doesn’t works for your partner

You may not even realize that you’re doing it, but if you are put off by your partners standards, they can pick up on it in your behavior.

Since Tim is not punctual, it obviously annoys Lily. Her standoffish behavior is obvious to Tim and he may get offended that she does not vibe with his lifestyle.

You cannot assume that what works for you is what works for your partner. Your expectations for them to acclimate to your lifestyle puts a burden on them. They will feel pressured to change and perhaps feel that they are not good enough for you as they are.

Accept, respect, appreciate

Your life experience is unique to yourself. No one else has had your upbringing, so everyone else has developed differently. What works for you may not work at all for others. It’s important to keep an open mind. Consider how other people may feel and how they may react. If something works better for them, try not to judge. Understand that there are reasons for why they are the way that they are.

Refrain from judgment, explain instead

When you see that your partner does things differently than you, ask why. Explain why you do it differently. This way you will have a better understanding of each other.

Lily should explain to Tim why is it important for her to plan ahead. In the same respect, Tim should explain why he doesn’t like to micromanage his life. Finding understanding for each other is the key. Respecting each other’s differences will help to lock it down.

Accept differences, be open to change

When dealing with different personalities, those differences need to be respected. Lily needs to respect Tim’s spontaneity, while Tim needs to respect Lily’s persistence. These are personality traits that can’t be changed.

But, they can be adjusted. Compromises need to be made to ensure that the differences don’t take a toll on the relationship. Making these adjustments shouldn’t feel like a sacrifice. A loving partner should be willing to make these changes in order to strengthen their relationship.

No one is exactly the same as another one, but this is what makes every relationship interesting. Embrace the differences between you and your partner and you will be less frustrated and have a happier and lasting relationship.

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