The Gottman Institute, April 19, 2021
Your partner doesn’t always have to think like you… and that’s a good thing.
Whether you’re dating or considering a serious relationship, sometimes you might wonder how compatible you are with the person sitting across from you. Should you have more things in common?
Why differences are good
If you think you have to finish each other’s sentences to have a future together, consider this:
Most couples are more dissimilar than similar, and that’s something to celebrate. Of course, many couples have core values they share, but there are inevitably areas where they are different. These differences may have attracted you to one another at first. For example, perhaps you loved the way your partner lights up when they talk about jazz even though you don’t know Miles Davis from John Coltrane. Maybe you prefer the cozy comforts of home, but you started dating an outdoors enthusiast because they impressed you with their knowledge of nature.
When opposites clash
These differences help opposites attract yet you can find yourselves in relationship trouble if you try to change these differences later. Think of the examples above. What would happen if you start a committed relationship with the music lover, only to complain every time they buy a new jazz record? Conflict can ensue. Even worse, giving the pretense that you love hiking with the outdoors enthusiast only to never set foot on the trail again six months later can lead to a rocky road.
In “Eight Dates” Dr. John Gottman notes that the gift of a committed partnership is the ability to see the world through your lover’s eyes and appreciate the beauty that they find.
Celebrate it all
Learning to understand and accept the ways that you are different is key to creating a lasting connection. When you can celebrate what makes you opposites, enduring love can be attainable.