Do Opposites Attract? (Plus: How To Keep the Spark Alive)

Learn the secret behind the spark and how to prevent a forest fire from igniting based on your differences.

Happy couples often cite common interests, common values, and strong communications as the glue that keeps them together.  It may indeed be easier to be in a relationship with someone like you.  

But, easier may not be as exciting, fulfilling or rewarding! 

Your pheromones may have led you to a mate, or something entirely different connected the two of you.  One theory is that in a mate we search for the missing part of us; something we have yet to fully develop ourselves. And, we are unable to repel the magnetic pull.

  • A quiet, reserved person is attracted to a fun-loving extrovert
  • A messy person is attracted to a tidy, organized person
  • A risk taker is attracted to a rule follower
  • A flighty person gravitates to someone who is stable and grounded

Over time; however, the same characteristics that drew us to a person can become sources of frustration.  For example, you once waited excitedly and in anticipation of their arrival for your date.  Now, you curse them for being self-absorbed, continually late and dismissive of the impact on you. 

Or, you, who likes to be the life of the party, enjoyed the occasional night of staying in with your homebody, but now it’s getting monotonous and you can’t wait to get out and enjoy a night on the town. 

Another possible scenario:  What you once appreciated about your mate's extroversion – breaking the ice, talking to anyone, now seems like endless chatter to you, the introvert.

Do you want to appreciate and leverage your differences again, see each other with fresh eyes, and get back that spark that connected you in the first place?

Knowing your Myers-Briggs® personality type and your partner's type may be the key to bliss.

Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs created 16 personality types based on various combinations of 4 opposite scales. Each examines what energizes you, how you prefer to gather information, how you go about making decisions, and how you interact with the world:

  • You might get your energy from interactions with others (extraversion) or from quiet periods of reflection (introversion).
  • You might prefer to gather information about what is (sensing) versus what could be (intuition).
  • You might prefer to make decisions logically and objectively (thinking) or based on what you value and the unique circumstances (feeling).
  • Perhaps the dimension that creates the most conflict with couples is the one that deals with how you interact with the world. You might prefer to organize your life, plan activities and get closure on decisions (judging). The polar opposite is a preference to keep your options open, be flexible and spontaneous (perceiving).  Often those with a preference for perceiving feel closed in by a judger's need for control, while those with a judging preference feel disrespected by their partner's perceived lack of commitment.


Certain combinations may work well in romantic relationships. For example, Sensing Judgers may honour their commitments more than other types.  Intuitive Feelers may devote themselves to open communications. Overall feelers may place a priority on their relationships and thus invest more. Additionally, having the same preference for how you gather information may be a key determinant of attraction. In meeting someone of the same sensing type, you might feel that you are immediately understood. 

Having just a few preferences the same may be enough to enable you to relate while still experiencing the positives of the differences.  Beyond that, couples who don't jump to conclusions quickly and come into the relationship with curiosity are less likely to allow differences to become a source of conflict.  Instead, they view differences as an asset.

Carl Jung believed that as we age, mature, and develop psychologically, we strive to evolve the underdeveloped parts of ourselves. Differences in preferences become less relevant over time. Tension then produces passion.

The key to relationship happiness is riding the wave, being open, and getting through potential misunderstandings and opposing goals.

Practically speaking, it means stopping yourself before you meltdown over your partner's words or actions. When your spontaneous partner can't commit to a plan for your upcoming vacation, just breathe and remember what made you fall in love with him in the first place.  You'll end up doing something fun.  Stay patient and let his pressure-prompted inspiration kick in!

Remember the spark that ignited from your differences.

Finally, ask yourself these critical questions:

  • Is my life more complete and whole with this person?  
  • While sometimes complicated, do I want to see my partner as a unique, fantastic being? 

If you answered "yes," then you're halfway there to accepting your partner (and yourself) for who you are and what you bring to your love match.  Let your similarities stabilize and unite you, and let your opposite ways continue to exhilarate you.

Lisa Petsinis is a career and life coach.  Contact Lisa if you’d like to discover your Myers-Briggs® Type Indicator and learn how you can use it to enrich your relationships, starting today.



3 Simple Valentine's Day Ideas (That Build Greater Intimacy)

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.  If you still haven't figured out what to do, I’ve got you covered! 

Here are a few low-key ideas to stay connected to your sweetheart without a lot of fuss.

1.       Re-enact your first date. 

Unless your first date was in Paris, more than likely this option is doable.  Perhaps your first date was at a coffee shop, the movies or at a restaurant.  Or perhaps it was a walk in a park.  Whatever the case may be, for added effect, wear the same outfit, get ready separately, and meet at the location, ready to re-live those precious moments.

Why it works:  It re-engages all the senses.  The re-enactment of your first date is likely to spark feelings of excitement and flood back intense memories of the first time you met.  Fall in love all over again!

2.       Cook dinner together. 

Instead of trying to make a last-minute reservation at an expensive restaurant where you’ll be shuffled along for the next seating, why not enjoy creating something delicious together at home?  Try these 30-minute menu ideas:

For dessert, try one of these delectable options:

Warning:  If you sample the dessert first, you may not get to dinner!

Why it works:  Cooking involves communication and working together.  Besides the chop, chop, and “pass the salt”, there is an opportunity to connect about other meaningful things as you work together to create a nourishing (and possibly sensuous) meal. 

3.       Light some candles, open a bottle of wine and get out some questions.  Do this after idea # 1 or #2, or do this as a standalone activity, perhaps after the kids have gone to sleep! 

Read out these questions one by one, or put them on 3 X 5 recipe cards and alternately pick from the deck.

  • What is your most treasured memory?
  • What is your worst memory?
  • Take four (4) minutes each and tell your life story in as much detail as possible.
  • For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  • What are you most stressed about right now?  What could I do to alleviate that stress in any way?
  • What has so far been your favourite sexual experience with me?
  • What would you like to do more of together?
  • What new thing would you like to do together?
  • If I had a crystal ball, what would you most want to know?
  • Alternating, share five (5) things that you love about your partner.

Why it works:  We seldom take the time to really see our partner.  When asking these questions with a curious attitude, we learn something novel, come to appreciate them more, and become bonded to them in a new way.  If we are truly open, we become vulnerable ourselves and that too strengthens our bond. 

One of these options will be sure to generate greater awareness about your partner, rekindle romantic feelings, and bring you closer than ever.  

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.
— Charles M. Schulz

Want a Red-Hot Valentine's Day? Your Love Language May be the Key to Bliss

Ever wished for a dozen long-stemmed roses and you got a frying pan?  Ever given your spouse a coupon for a massage that sat in a drawer unused?  Understanding your love language and that of your partner may be the key to getting each other’s needs met.

Long-time relationship expert and best-selling author Dr. Gary Chapman writes about Five Love Languages. There isn't a ton of scientific research behind it. And it may sound trite.  Yet it's common sense and it works!  In his books, he writes about the five love languages – five ways that we understand and communicate emotional love.  While we may connect with and enjoy all of them to some degree, he theorizes that we each have a predominant style or two, and we prefer to receive love in the same way that we prefer to give it.

1.      Words of Affirmation:  Spoken affection, “I love you”, appreciation or compliments expresse love.  Words matter.  Cutting words may be hard to forget -- or forgive.

2.      Acts of Service:  Actions, favours, or lending a hand are used to demonstrate love.  Actions hold value.  Breaking a promise says you don’t care.

3.      Receiving Gifts:  Gift giving expresses love.  Thoughtful gifts are symbols of love, regardless of price.  Not taking the time to pick out something of meaning may result in a let-down.

4.      Quality Time:  Spending time with someone expresses love.  Being there makes them feel satisfied and comforted.  Being late or distractions can feel hurtful.

5.      Physical Touch:  Physical touch is affirming, such as holding a hand, touching an arm, backrub, hugs or kisses. Touch makes them feel safe and cared for.   Physical violence is especially abhorrent.

When you know what’s important to your partner, you can eliminate frustration and disappointment, and show your love in ways that they understand, prioritize and need.  It also tells you ways in which you and your partner don’t naturally express love or when their feelings might be unintentionally hurt. 

If your partner’s love language is Acts of Service and yours is Receiving Gifts, you might be less frustrated when you don’t get that sparkling pendant you’ve been hinting at.  You may greater appreciate all of the times he is fixing your plumbing or picking you up from work – and he will love it when you let him how much you’re grateful for these acts of love. 

If your partner’s language is Physical Touch and is all about public displays of affection, you may stretch your Quality Time love language approach, try to be more mindful, and give a surprise hug or reach for a hand while walking down the street. They in turn may very well enjoy the next date you have on the couch, at home, spending quality time together.

Even knowing your own love language can be enough to shift your relationship.  If you’re not sure which is your predominant style, you can take the 20-minute quiz on Dr. Chapman’s site and you will get a report highlighting your love language as well as newsletters with regular tips on showing love in the five different ways.

So, on this upcoming Valentine’s Day, use your newfound knowledge to recharge the spark.  Express your love in a way that is likely to get the best possible reaction.

Not presently in a love match?  What’s great about these languages is that they transfer to other relationships, too.  Use these with your children – young and grown, your parents, or even your business associates, and watch how these relationships flourish.