Published on January 31st, 2015 | by Kelly Chisholm0
I Love You, You’re Perfect: Now Change
How often have you heard the phrase “opposites attract?” This principle is based on the idea that we are attracted to other people not because they are similar to us, but because they possess certain talents, skills and qualities we lack. When we are fascinated with someone, we often hope their strengths and talents will become our own; on an unconscious level we want to possess those qualities that we lack. Our hope is that our own strengths and abilities will in turn, complement the relationship. If I am an avid sports fanatic, for example, it may be good for me to be in a relationship with someone who has other interests besides sports (and vice versa). The two of us together make a well balanced, integrated team.
The classic love story plays out like this—two polar opposites meet, fall madly in love and live happily ever after. The newly formed couple is in the delicious space of discovery—every unique aspect of their partner’s personality is an enjoyment to be treasured and valued. The social animal meets the social wallflower and the chemistry explodes. Partners typically are attracted to their opposites in the following areas:
- The creative, emotional person is attracted to the intelligent, logical person
- The clean, neat partner pairs up with a messy, unorganized one
- The spendthrift shopper mates with the frugal saver
But after a few months, something else explodes too—our willingness to accept the special, unique qualities that are so different from our own. We begin to pick apart the very assets that we were initially attracted to in our partners. Change becomes the name of the game and we spend huge amounts of time and energy trying to change our once-perfect mate. Our partner’s differences, which we once saw as a positive, are now seen as faults.
A very curious pattern begins to emerge. It starts slowly, but eventually it takes on the speed of a runaway train blowing through the station and threatening the long-term survival of the relationship. This is the pattern where we try to change our partner into someone who thinks, feels and acts just like us. Instead of respecting and appreciating our partner’s differences, we begin to see them in a negative light, just for being the way they are. Instead of keeping ourselves open to what their differences have to offer, we attempt to change them into our mirror image. This path will only lead to resentment and frustration, and is a sure way to inflict severe damage to the relationship. Much of our relationship stress comes from our conscious and unconscious efforts to change our partners. So, how can we stop this destructive pattern from continuing?
- Be aware of your thoughts. Are you seeing your partner differently than you used to? Are you having conversations with yourself about their “faults”? Internal conversations such as good/bad and right/wrong can be a common factor in our interpersonal problems.
- Stop negative thinking. Remember the positive attributes that your partner has and focus on those. Practice substituting thoughts or a thought-stopping technique to help overcome the negative thoughts.
- Change yourself. Spend the energy and time on changing yourself instead of your partner. Acceptance of this main idea leads to happier, healthier relationships with everyone.
Practicing these three steps helps us realize that we don’t have to search for the perfect partner—they’re right in front of our eyes.
Kelly Chisholm is an internationally renowned relationship expert, bestselling author, marriage therapist and professional speaker and educator who specializes in helping people change their lives and improve their important relationships. She is the CEO of Great Relationships Now, with offices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, a relationship consulting service that helps save relationships from break ups and marriages from divorce. For more information, visit greatrelationshipsnow.com or call 505-974-0104.