Most of us are in marriages or romantic relationships where we recognize we are different from our mates, even the complete opposite. I’m not referring to how you like your eggs cooked in the morning. I am referring to the entire personality makeup being opposites. Why does this happen? It seems to me, after working with people in psychotherapy for almost forty years, that people unconsciously pick a partner to achieve wholeness and a feeling of living in a cocoon of perfection in their lives. A perfect union will exist if two opposites halves merge to create a whole. In other words, one partner need not have all attributes for perfection and wholeness, because he or she will seek a partner with opposite or different skills that will make them together a complete unit. So, a somewhat shy, highly responsible, hard-working person attuned to looking out for another will “fall in love” with a very outgoing, somewhat irresponsible and more laid back person who most enjoys having another meet his or her needs. A dominant marries a submissive. A social butterfly marries a social phobic. A fifty-hour-a-week employed person marries an unemployed or occasionally-employed person. Thus, each person feels complete by his/her complement.

But, what happens to each person in the relationship? They must stay in their complementary roles to feel whole. And, if they do not, they are miserable. They feel as if they are only half of a person. The one with social anxiety never learns to feel calm and relaxed in social encounters. The one with little work ethic never learns to get and keep a job. The hyper-responsible one will not learn to be carefree and avoid caretaking. The always-carefree mate will never know how to be serious or how to show care to his mate. Have you experienced being attracted to an opposite? How has it turned out for you?

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