Young people take notice. February is the traditional month to celebrate love. And, just as holidays can induce sadness for lost loved ones, February can induce similar reactions to not being in a relationship (reference the movie “Valentine’s Day”).
The challenge is, finding love, or “the one,” is an arduous task. One isn’t guaranteed this will happen to them. Often it’s because of our grading system. I have a somewhat amusing take on the mate selection process, even though there is a hint of truth to it. My attempt at a humorous principle is that when you’re young, you have a laundry list of requirements for your selective potential life partner. As you grow older, that list grows shorter and shorter. The characteristics as well, become more simplified and focused. One’s “requirements” become less stringent. The longer this takes, thus the older we get, the list dwindles down to the bare essentials of what one thinks they can get by with. This is partially due to the “pool” of possible candidates shrinking, and also because one’s patience runs thin.
If this was a proven principle, and I’m not saying it is (that I’m aware of), one could see how the odds that you had truly met “the one” person on the planet that was just right for you, above all others, becomes slimmer as you grow older. That would mean you didn’t find the perfect match, but instead, “a suitable one.” Consequently, once the endorphins wear off, you begin to pay more attention to the undesirable traits of your partner that you let slide in the beginning. How well you adapt in this stage will determine the longevity of your relationship.
So, to the young, and not-so-young couples out there that may be feeling they’re in the “suitable” category of their relationship type, I have good news, I hope.
There’s a relationship theory that says, “We seek qualities in our mates that we lack in ourselves.” I refer to this as the Yin and Yang approach, not to be confused with “opposites attract.” An idea I might add that I don’t personally agree with. More on that later.
The Yin and Yang approach is different, however. For instance, some management philosophy infers there are “thinkers,” and there are “doers.” The thinkers tend to be creative, big picture types, great with innovative ideas, but not so good with execution. The doers, on the other hand, are solution-driven and more adept at getting the job done. True success depends on both working hand-in-hand in harmony together.
The same can be said for relationships that fall into the Yin and Yang approach. You may be the Yin to your mate’s Yang. Whether you’re the thinker or the doer doesn’t matter as long as you are able to complement each other to achieve good things together. In this approach, because your traits complete one another, you become like a finely tuned engine when working together. The absence of one is felt strongly by the other, for logical reasons as well as emotional ones. These couples, though they may not be considered the “perfect match” by the young person’s grading scale, actually blend well together. Over time, they become as if they are one. As Todd Ruthman said, “It’s the things in common that make relationships enjoyable, but it’s the ‘little differences’ that make them interesting.”
As for the old adage of “opposites attract,” a term coined by Robert Francis Winch, a sociologist in 1950, if this is so, it doesn’t mean they will stay together. For example, according to psychcentral.com, Matthew D. Johnson, Chair & Professor of Psychology and Director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory, Binghamton University, State University of New York states emphatically, “It’s a myth that opposites attract. There is essentially no research evidence that differences in personality, interests, education, politics, upbringing, religion or other traits lead to greater attraction.” On the contrary, it goes on to quote a 2012 study by psychologists Matthew Montoya and Robert Horton, that found “an irrefutable association between being similar to, and being interested in another person. In other words, there is clear and convincing evidence that birds of a feather flock together,” If you’re in the “total opposites” category, I’m not saying it isn’t possible; I’m just saying you have more challenges to overcome, versus those couples who share complementary qualities.
Now, back to the young persons out there, as you seek out your future life partner, just be cognizant of the time factor bias in your decision-making process. Be aware that perfection is not what you seek. In my opinion, it’s about having someone who makes you a better person, supports you, comforts you, celebrates with you and is the first person you want to call when something happens. There are no guarantees, but if you find this, it’s a good start.
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