By: Dr. Fayr Barkley, Ph.D.
Are opposites really attracted to each other? It may be true with magnets, but when it comes to relationships, opposites may attract initially, but in the long term COMMONALITY keeps two people together.
Thomas Chomorro-Premuzic, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London and a researcher in personality and intelligence) notes there are five basic personality traits among couples that can be used to predict positive longevity in their relationship.
He says the couple needs to be on the same page in regard to how they define a successful relationship. Hooking up and “seeing how it goes” usually only results in a positive, long term relationship by accident. Shared goals are important in areas of: longevity, child rearing philosophies, religious beliefs, financial success, passion, career, and other issues of importance to each.
1) Ambition: If one partner is highly driven and the other is otherwise totally laid back (Type A vs lazy) resentment can develop on either side. The Type A may view the laid back person as a freeloader, whereas the overly laid back person may develop anxiety over the ambitious activity of his partner. It is better to be equally ambitious in a relationship.
2) Openness: If you have an open mind and are adventurous and your partner is conservative, risk averse and not interested in doing or learning new things, it can cause relationship struggle.
3) Emotional Intelligence: If your partner tends to use you as his shrink and projects his neurosis (now termed “Personality Disorder”) on you and the world, it puts added strain on the relationship. Chomorro-Premuzic warns highly stable people to be aware that needy, unstable people will make them a target and use them as a sort of human sedative for their lives. This becomes physically and emotionally draining to the stronger partner.
4) Sociability: Introvert vs extrovert. Small differences are tolerable, but vast differences can prevent one of the partners from living and enjoying a full life. If one has to stay home to “baby sit” an unsociable partner, boredom/anxiety/depression/resentment can develop.
5) Altruism/Agreeableness: If you are sensitive to the needs of others and your partner is otherwise lacking in empathy, you will end up behaving differently and you may even view your partner as self centered and even immoral. It is important to be equally predisposed to giving to others.
Small differences in personality between partners can be tolerated; however in terms of overall happiness and relationship longevity, being similar bonds people together in a positive way while overtly opposite personality traits will tend to erode a relationship over time.
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