Do Opposites Attract-

Document Sample
Do Opposites Attract- Powered By Docstoc
					I'm no fan of the so-called 'Law of Attraction promoted in the heavily hyped self
fulfilling marketing vehicle that is 'The Secret.' But if like doesn't attract like when it
comes to genies delivering bicycles, do opposites attract instead?

No, not when it comes to people, at least according to some research I've seen. But
then, it depends on what you mean by opposite.

Back in 2005, Psychologist Eva C. Klohnen, Ph.D., along with graduate student
Shanhong Luo, M.A., of the University of Iowa, did a study involving 291 newlywed
couples who had participated in the Iowa Marital Assessment Project. The couples
met the criteria of being married for less than a year at the time of the study, and the
average time the partners in each couple had dated each other was 3 and a half years.

Before I go on, I've just got to say that three and a half years of dating before getting
married is a heckofa criterion. And it gets me wondering what that might say about
the parties in the relationship. What took them so long? What were they waiting for,
or needing to resolve? Clearly, that's building a lot of common ground, through shared
experiences, working through conflict, and getting comfortable with each other's
idiosyncrasies, before making the commitment.

At any rate, the couples were assessed on what were considered 'personality
characteristics' such as attachment, extroversion, conscientousness, positive and
negative emotions. Pardon me? These are personality characteristics? These aren't
variables related to time, place, task and people? Sorry, I doubt that these are
characteristics of the generalization of personality. I hold the opposite view. And yet, I
am attracted to this study.

Now, if you've studied with me, you know that I have very little in common with
researchers who believe that there are such things as personality characteristics. I
think personality is a huge generalization based on limited information. I think the
belief in personality is a model that doesn't hold up to scrutiny, as people tend to
change their 'type' depending on who they are with, what's going on, what they need
and what is important to them at the time.

A guy walked up to me in a seminar and informed me that he'd just been through a
personality profile. I asked him, "What have you learned from it?" He shook his head
and said, "I've learned I'm an analytical socializer." I replied, "I think I'd prefer the
heartbreak of psoriasis." Apparently, that was his cue to stop socializing, so he walked
away, no doubt thinking about what that meant. And as I stood there alone, I decided
that I am opposed to personality profiling. And maybe that's what attracted this guy to
the idea of telling me about it. They say 'Think outside the box.' So why work so hard
to put yourself and others in one?

The interesting thing for me about these things I'm opposed to is how attracted I am to
them! And it's not just me. My Dad told me he watches certain news shows presented
by people he finds despicable because he loves to hate them. Our cats, Miracle and
Grace, hated Rollie the cat when he came along. Those girls seemed like they were at
death's door, until Rollie started pawing the door. Suddenly, they came to life! They
seemed to want to live another day in order to keep him out of the house another day.
In this way, I think they found him very attractive.

And that's what makes opposites attractive...opposites serve as points of reference for
choices, for desires, for motivation, and for understanding yourself. So if I'm opposed
to personality as a way of typing people, then what am I for? Behavior. Thank you
personality tests for helping me know myself.

Here's what my experience tells me about all this. If you have two people in a
relationship who are too identical, one of them isn't necessary. Differences can be
incredibly attractive - men being attracted to women and women being attracted to
men, for example, specifically because of gender differences; each person in an
interdependent but not codependent couple having their own interests, hobbies and
circles of friends; the stimulation of exploring meaningful differences as a way of
getting to know someone other than yourself and expand your concept of the world
you live in!

But when it comes to building relationships, common ground is essential.