DEAR DEANNA: DO OPPOSITES ATTRACT?
"If elemental theory says I should do the opposite for balance, does that mean I need to find a partner who is the opposite of me?" — Sharon
There's that old saying that opposites attract. And I think it's true in a lot of ways. If you've met my husband, you'll notice pretty quickly that I'm more outspoken, while he is quiet and works behind the scenes. We think about how a partner can complement us or move in one direction where we might choose differently, thus making a "perfect whole."
Seeking the perfect complement is a tricky proposition. Yes, it's good to seek out an alternate viewpoint, someone who might bring out something new in you or show you new experiences you might not have attempted on your own.
But, it's also necessary to make sure that there is not too much opposition. I don't just mean whether arguments occur (disagreements themselves are an important part of good communication.)
If two individuals are too opposed, it's much more difficult to find empathy, common experience, and shared values. Empathy is one of the components of trust, one pillar of a solid relationship. Common experiences and values allow two individuals to build something together and have a common language.
But even more necessary than matching aspects is the ability to welcome and love the inner facets of the other individual. It is so comforting to find a partner who embraces you as you are, as well as the person you were 20 or 30 years ago who still resides within you. It means you find a place where that little inner 5-year-old feels accepted, where that gawky 15-year-old you finds connection, where the person you are now, feels safe to explore.
With love and acceptance and safety as the foundation, you can then learn from your partner about the ways that may bring you into balance. Perhaps you feel buried under shyness, but your partner is really good at making uplifting, airy small talk. What can they teach you about shifting the mud and lightening up? Maybe you admire your partner's ability to bring a sense of cooling and grounding during a fiery, anxious time. Are you able to learn how to integrate their practice and cool down the heat?
Be open to relationships that hold new viewpoints and skills -- and you will also be bringing balance to the other! After all, it takes two...