Sometimes dating one’s opposite adds spice to a relationship or in other cases, tears it apart. The trick is knowing when someone is quirky vs. not the right match at all. Lust or the heady feeling of being in love can blind some to potential problem spots. Having one’s head in the sand like an ostrich does not make problems go away, but rather delays dealing with them. Whether it is being of different religions, ideology or life philosophies, issues need to be addressed before rushing to the alter.
An example of opposites working out differences and being happily married for fifty years is Violet and Terrence. She is city girl who loathes camping out, doing long treks, or white water rafting. Her outdoorsy husband releases his inner mountain man by long hikes and sleeping rough in the wild. They cherish each other and learned to compromise. They bought a luxurious camper van with all mod cons including a cosy kitchen. This couple takes short hikes together and she happily reads while Terrence does the arduous ones solo. I have joined his camping trips staying in tents for white water rafting adventures. Violet keeps busy with extended family while Terrance is away on these short jaunts. They both taught me to cross country ski. Violet is happy for the gentle nudge to enjoy being out in nature.
There are some fundamental issues that sometimes cannot be resolved. A former co-worker of mine is an in-your-face vegetarian who had married a carnivore. She ended up getting a divorce and it had not helped their relationship by having hunters on his family tree. Sometimes opposite temperaments and interests are the death knoll for relationships. My former fiancé was an introvert and I am an extrovert. I love to dance and he would rather stick a pin in his hand than get up on the dance floor. His idea of a perfect evening was staying in and mine was socializing. Although this is not what broke us up, I realized that our opposite preferences would not have worked out well in the long run.
No one is going to tick all of the boxes on our wish list. However, being in alignment with ethics, values, interests helps. If you sense that your dating partner may not want to be a vagabond and you are not a homebody, then a frank discussion is in order. Pre-marital counseling is highly recommended for the second time around to ensure you understand each other’s positions. In the earlier phase of dating, if there is a sticky issue it can be helpful to discuss it with a neutral third party, whether a family friend, clergy or life coach. If the issue is a deal breaker for each of you, it is better to discover that before putting in more time or energy into the relationship. Talking with friends can help give insight to your dating situation.
If something does not feel right when dating, then step back and analyze what is trying to grab your attention. Still your mind through meditation, a walk through the woods or whatever grounds you. Maybe take a break and go away for a short holiday to things over. People in long-term marriages tend to have a sense of humor, compromise and respect the person even if they have an opposite viewpoint. Dating a person who is your opposite can expose you to exciting new adventures, however it is crucial to maintain good communication.
You can check out my video course where I go into detail about getting ready to start new relationships on Kismet Academy.
Originally published in The Divorce Magazine.