Why is it that the people we choose to fall in love with can drive us completely nuts as well as make us feel like we’ve died and gone to heaven?
It’s because the person you are in love with is most likely your reciprocal opposite…
They think differently, they approach the world differently and have different needs.
During the Romance Stage of your relationship, their differences make them attractive, but as soon as your relationship hits the Power Struggle stage, their opposite nature will be the very thing that makes you want to tear your hair out in frustration and move on to find a another (more compatible) mate.
Until you can understand and appreciate how your partner is different from you, you’ll wind up thinking that your differences are the problem, rather than your greatest growth opportunity.
Why we attract a reciprocal opposite
If you look around you in nature you’ll see that opposites seem to be coupled together just like people…
e.g. day – night, male – female, ocean – land etc.
When two opposites attract each other and come together as a couple, the combination can form a well-rounded and higher functioning unit than each might be individually.
Born to Bond?
From this perspective, being attracted to a reciprocal opposite is nature’s way of ensuring the survival of our species and helping us become psychologically whole (more on this in a moment).
While the media is quick to label us co-dependent if we need another human to make us feel whole, science is showing us that we are born to bond, and not with just anyone, but with a reciprocal opposite.
The Myers-Briggs personality test (also known as MBTI) is the most widely taken personality test in the world with more than 2 million people taking it each year. Over the last 50 years, MBTI researchers have gathered a LOT of data about people in relationships.
In a study of couples who have taken the MBTI test, it turns out that the people who are most attracted to each other seem to be opposite in most of their personality traits.
The research shows that Extroverts are attracted to Introverts (and vice versa) and Judgers are attracted to Perceivers (and vice versa).
For the sake of simplicity here are some quick and dirty definitions of the above.
Introverts gain energy from being alone; Extroverts gain energy from being around others.
Judgers like to get things decided; Perceivers like to keep options open.
There’s a lot more to personality typing than I have space to present here. If you want to learn more and take your MBTI test, check out the Love At First Fight coaching program.
Becoming Whole In Relationship With Another
Even the most well rounded of us inherited some form of psychological wounding as we grew up. These wounds manifest in beliefs about ourselves like:
- I’m not good enough
- I don’t belong
- I’m unlovable
- I’m not worthy
…and when we fall in love with our reciprocal opposite, the relationship triggers these beliefs, which bubble up from beneath the surface and wreak devastating havoc in our love life.
But instead of doing this, most people run like hell and try to find another relationship, repeating the same relationship patterns over and over with other partners until they do the inner work to heal their childhood wounding.
The Pros And Cons Of Loving A Reciprocal Opposite
If you’ve ever fallen head over heels in love, then you know what it feels like to recognize your reciprocal opposite…
Your heart beats faster; you get butterflies in your stomach and can’t seem to think of anything other than the object of your desire.
But being in a relationship with your opposite will bring significant challenges:
- You’re going to need to work on your relationship more than if you were in a relationship with someone similar to you.
- You’re likely to face significant communication issues during the Power Struggle stage.
- You’ll need to learn accept and then appreciate your partner’s differences in personality (and vice versa) otherwise you’ll end up driving each other crazy.
On a positive note, being with your reciprocal opposite will likely mean that:
- You’ll experience lots of “chemistry” and passion between you
- You’ll rarely be bored and
- If you make it though the Power Struggle stage, your relationship has the possibility of being extremely fulfilling
My friends, Ted and Sandy are reciprocal opposites (with respect to their MBTI type). This is the first relationship Ted has had with a reciprocal opposite. When I asked Ted what felt different about being with Sandy, he said, “It just feels SO natural, so easy. I’m learning so much about myself so fast…”
Tearing your hair out?
If you think that you’re with your reciprocal opposite and you’re facing significant challenges, I urge you to think twice before writing off your relationship as too much hard work.
What’s likely going on is that your differences are rubbing up against each other and causing conflict.
The good news is that this is easily resolved once you begin to understand and appreciate each other’s differing needs and find new ways to meet them.
I’m not going sugarcoat it.
Being in relationship with your reciprocal opposite is not a walk in the park.
However, if you’ve fallen in love with someone completely different from you (and you’re both willing to face your fears together), strap yourself in because you’re in for one of the wildest (at least for a while), most rewarding rides of your life!