It is often said that opposites attract in the game of love. Others, who don’t side with Paula Abdul’s hit song from the early 90’s, believe that a perfect love connection derives from identical hobbies, morals, and values. I recently received a letter from a reader asking for advice on this very topic. Below you will find her question and my response. If you have a question you would like answered just send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Confused in California:
“Hi Dr. Rod- First of all, let me tell you how much I have been enjoying your blog! I’m a single woman in my early thirties and I recently started dating someone who is the polar opposite of me concerning religion and politics. However, he is a kind person, treats me very well and we have an amazing time when we are together. I am worried that our differences of opinion may cause issues down the line. My previous relationship was very abusive, so while I appreciate being treated well this time around, I know that shared values are important to me. What should I do?”
-Confused in California
Dear Confused in California,
I applaud your efforts to address these issues early on in courtship. Too often we rush to ride the roller-coaster without thinking about lunch afterwards. We fall victim to lust, novelty, and the chance to be and act like someone new and different. You are not alone in your dilemma. So many of us compare and contrast suitors to those from our past, our family’s wishes, and our social and work environments. Not only do we wonder if we can handle the difference(s), but we also wonder if those around us can.
To establish a firm foundation in love requires us to ask very personal questions of ourselves. Why this person? Why now? Will it work? What can I contribute to ensure long term success with this person? What personal patterns do I need to be aware of? What do I need at the present moment and what can I give?
Your ability to answer these questions will allow for appropriate reflection into the positive and negative patterns you have enlisted in previous relationships. Maybe through your discovery process you find that this man represents others from the past that were also desirable during similar life phases. Maybe he represents a challenge. Maybe he stirs your need for active and engaging conversation.
He may or may not represent any or all of these elements. Your truth will come from communicating your wants and needs, your deal breakers, and areas for consideration. For some, religion and politics represent the most crucial elements in determining relationship viability. The challenge becomes when or when not to address these differences. Do you address them now for sake of prudent responsibility or do you wait? Do you wait to see the level of religious/political practice and commitment? Remember that hoping for change is just that…hoping. You do not want to find yourself loathing the very idiosyncrasies you once found adorable.
Ask yourself this…Are you looking for comfortable? Can you respect others opinions without fear that yours will not be heard and/or counted? If you can say yes, then maybe it is worth pursuing. But, if you find yourself chalking the field with fears based on his viewpoints then all your doing is setting yourself up for a familiar outcome.
I will close with this…
“Who are you protecting if you leave now?”
“What are you in fear of?”
Answer those honestly and you will have a better read on your life, as it currently stands, and the direction you want to take on your personal journey. You may find that your confusion lies within yourself and not with this gentleman.
This reply should not replace therapeutic consult by a local professional and is intended for entertainment purposes.