Poles and Dovetails

The allure of a relationship or marriage which is seamless, based on an unconditional love is one that swims in many people’s minds. Nevertheless, we all know that however intimate and strong a bond between two people may be, there is nothing really like a seamless relationship. That is not to say that two people cannot wholly love and be committed to each other and live happily until dust turns into dust; it just means that when two people come together in a relationship, they come as individuals. Individuals have their own personalities – some have similar personalities and some have very different personalities. Personalities affect compatibility but the question is, how much do personalities affect compatibility?

The theory that opposites attract has floated around for centuries; in our physics lessons, the man at the front of the classroom with a semi-groomed beard pointed around and elaborated on how the positive and negatives attract each other; how like and unlike poles come together and how like poles repel. We even did some experiments in the laboratory to prove the same. Well, he convinced most of us enough to pass our elementary exams but I don’t know of anyone in the class who went on to become a(n award winning) physicist. I digress.

Back to men and women, a friend of mine very recently asked what I thought about people with similar personalities dating – I told him that I hadn’t really thought about it, whether I would date someone with a similar personality as mine. I said that for me, I tend to look at it on a case by case basis, that is to say I wait until I meet the Adam in question and see what he is all about. Obviously, I have likes and dislikes, dos and don’ts and I guess that is the hourglass through which compatibility gets sifted for me. But it got me thinking about all the talk about personalities, compatibility and success of relationships and unions. Since I am no psychologist, I took to some reading and came across some very interesting conclusions.

In this day and age, there is a study to prove or disprove almost anything hence you will not be surprised to learn that literature out there is not very conclusive. There are studies that show that whether people in a relationship or marriage have similar personalities or not doesn’t matter in the long run; the argument in this vein is that what matters in the end is how people work on the relationship regardless of the personalities they have. There are pieces of research that show that the more similar married and dating couples are in their personalities and emotions, the more satisfied they are in their relationships. I stopped there and thought a little bit about this, about personalities being similar and people being all happy and dandy – it struck me that this all sounded all so boring and predictable! Hold on, just hold on. I am not averse to happily ever after, and no, I am not the type that wants to fight all day long just to end it with a good roll in the hay to make up. My pause was brought on by questions of where the spice would be in such a relationship – where would the variety and excitement come from.

Then I thought about relationships where people have different personalities and I was reminded of another lesson from my elementary education – the dovetail joint. (Can I just point out that it has been a long while since I have since this particular joint in use on furniture? May be I don’t spend enough time around carpenters and furniture shops but I still think this particular joint is under-used). Back to the topic at hand, the whole notion of two people being different but coming together to complement each other just made a lot of sense in my head – good woodwork if I could call that. In fact, I wondered about the dynamics of a relationship where you have an Adam and an Eve who are both ambitious and adventurous go-getters? Would their ambitions clash or would they support each other in their quests? I thought of POTUS and FLOTUS – certainly, when they both started out separately in life, they had dreams and ambitions that they somehow managed to pursue but I wondered whether at some point, one had to put aside their ambitions and let the other pursue theirs? I know nothing about their personality types but they both seems like go-getters and I guess somehow they’ve made it work.

Which brought me to my fair bit of conclusions. Firstly, we all know what we like and dislike and these are things that define the choices we make in partners. We all have different personalities but at the end of the day, there are some fundamentals (not that video! ;)) that bring two people together, and hence even stronger fundamentals and values that will make them stay together. That despite the personalities we may have, the bottom line is that relationships require effort, sometimes lots of effort, to make them work and keep them going. At the end of the day, all other connections and factors considered, compatibility is about what you make out of your relationship.

By Project 44



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