When someone we love and want to be with says, “We’re too different” or “We’re incompatible” most of us react with hurt. We become defensive and try to argue down the other person’s observations and feelings. In our hurt, we tell them they are not seeing things clearly, their feelings are wrong (or not important) and they should see things the way we do, and the way we do is that “we’re not too different, we just don’t communicate well”.
As most people broken up with their ex over being too different or incompatible can attest, defensiveness doesn’t stop the other person from thinking and feeling that too different or incompatible.
Here’s the thing, forget about what you think about opposites-attract or likes-attract or whatever you think you are. In reality, most relationships are likes-attract in some areas (enough similarities to sustain a relationship long term), and opposites-attract in other areas (just enough differences to make things interesting and exciting).
Too much difference can be draining and can cause a great deal of conflict in a relationship especially when the differences rub the other person the wrong way. Even two people who love each other very much may find themselves unable to tolerate each other.
But just because you’re attracted to, or are in a relationship with someone who feels like the polar opposite of you doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed. With the right attitude, mindset and commitment you can build a foundation for lasting love.
1. Develop a friends-first relationship
Many relationships with great potential often end too quickly because of a poor sense of timing, and eagerness to “seal the deal quickly.” If your times together are limited to weekly or bi-weekly “date nights” for example, the differences may not be visible until much later. In many cases you may actually appear more similar than you really are. A friends-first approach helps you move slowly, and allows you space to show consistency and achieve a higher probability of synchronicity with the other person.
2. Understand your differences
Having opposite personalities, communication and relating styles can work if both of you are clear about the foundation on which your relationship is built on. The only way to do that is by having an honest talk about your differences — what is it about your differences that you find exciting, and stimulating and what is it that you see as having the potential to create a conflict that might lead to a break up. You MUST have this talk because it’ll happen one way or another — and in most cases when you’re not expecting it and not ready for it. Things could go awfully wrong!
3. Accept your differences
It’s one thing to be smitten by how different someone is from you, it’s a different thing to accept and even admire each other’s differences. The fastest way to ruin a relationship — even one with great potential — is to try to change your partner into a carbon copy of yourself, or try to change him/her to meet your expectations and specific requirements.
4. Negotiate and make compromises
Strong relationships are all about compromise and some reasonable sacrifices along the way. So find specific ways to meet each other halfway. This should not be a one-time-only thing, but a discipline that must be developed, practiced and fine-tuned to create a true “win/win” relationship.
5. Create something new together
Do something different, something neither of you has done before and one that wouldn’t necessarily come naturally to either one of you. You can also learn a new skill together or create something tangible together like start a business, or build a house etc. Working together as a team where each brings his/her talents and strengths to the table, and concentrating on achieving a common goal will remind you why you’re such an excellent match.