How many times have we heard the saying opposites attract? Or had the friend who started dating the person who was the yin to her yang? I often have clients come into my practice who are struggling in a relationship because they feel like their partner is the polar opposite of them and they are struggling to find a common ground.
When it comes to different personality traits, I absolutely believe a relationship can work. For example, one person may be more of an extrovert, and the other an introvert, one person could be super organized and the other a bit more scattered. These can be things that can cause conflict at times in a relationship but don’t necessarily have an impact on the overall happiness/connection the couple can experience.
When differences become an issue is with regards to core values, the values you have that typically don’t change throughout your life. Values are about what you need to live your life authentically and happily. They shape your view of the world and how you engage it, and definitely shape your view of what makes a successful partnership. Lots of couples can have different personalities but their core values can still be the same. For example, if only one partner values loyalty, that can have a significant impact on safety and connection in a relationship. Or, if both people differ in how they value and perceive equality in a relationship, it can cause people to be at odds in pretty significant ways. Our values are what shape the path that we want our life to take. They serve as guide posts when we have to make big decisions and help us stay connected when the busyness of life often tries to pull us apart. Our values also inform our relationship non-negotiables.
I think in all relationships there are, or should be, non-negotiables; things that both parties agree should either always or never happen in a relationship if they want the relationship to be one that feels safe, fulfilling and healthy for both people. Often people find the non-negotiables are shared, both people value/need the same things. It is okay, however, if there are some things that are more important to you than to your partner and vice versa so long as both people are willing to honor what feels significant to each person and to prioritize one another’s feelings in these moments. Often couples can have a hard time sometimes getting clear on what their core values are specifically but if you take a good look at your non-negotiables, they usually highlight what it is you value. Some of the more common relationship core values I see in my office are: honesty, commitment, companionship, vulnerability and intimacy.
What are your core values and how do they play out in your relationship? If you have a hard time getting on the same page about your values, it may be worth going and talking to a therapist. Sometimes having a professional guide you can help you both see the healthy steps you can take to