Declaration: I am not sentimental as far as Hallmark holidays such as Valentines go. However we are all in relationships at work and at home and February is a perfect excuse to explore relationship related themes.

Do you ever meet couples that seem so different from each other that you wonder what the attraction is? Sometimes things appear to be ticking along quite nicely, but some couples seem to swim in drama. Some people seem to be addicted to the adrenaline that pumps through their bodies when they are immersed in these high drama relationships. My theory is that “opposites attract” when we are younger, but that new relationships in later years are more about finding similarities. Having these differences in play in our twenties and early thirties helps us to learn about who we are and to smooth off any jagged edges because we have something to bump up against.

Dr Pat Comley, professionally trained coach and a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, has a Doctorate in Applied Psychology and Counseling Education. She agrees that this has been the case for her and that this typically holds true for those she has worked with.

Later in life, things that were once important simply fall off your radar screen. You can’t help but come to terms with various aspects of your life (that is if you live long enough.) For those who have worked out a lot of the kinks surrounding their identity and what’s important, the kind of tension that surfaces between different personality preferences may lack appeal. At a certain point a person may find indeed that having commonalities has become more attractive. Sharing and engagement based on mutuality may not sound sexy but I like it and it works.

In a business context this could be a trickier consideration. Many (most) people are drawn to hire others who are like they are: “I found a perfect hire … they do everything just the way I like it.” The problem is that you have doubled your possible “blind spot” and could be heading toward the insidiousness of “group think” if you don’t have some balance of preferences and styles on your team. It is much wiser to hire for the job and find someone with the strengths and capacity to perform that role. Making business relationship choices are definitely “head” and “gut” considerations not only “heart” ones.

As for love – a touch of magic may always be an essential ingredient that goes beyond surface considerations like sameness vs difference. However from where I stand on the other side of “young”- life is too short for struggle –engagement and connection YES but who has time for the drama that extreme differences or unhealthy development can foster? If you are young and reading this or an adventure junkie, I know you will ignore me. The drama is seductive. No worries – you will sort it all out with time – just remember that you get to put the midnight calls on your phone bill not mine.

Category: Perspectives
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One Response to “Opposites or Similarities- What appeals to you?”

Good topic.
Me and my wife…. we always laugh recalling how it all started….
“If some one would tell me back then you are going to be my wife/husband i’d laugh out loud in his face”

Regarding opposites in business…. consider reading what was published recently in HarvardBusiness.org in “25 Stretch Goals for Management”

Expand and exploit diversity.

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