Q : My boyfriend and I recently took our first trip together and now I find myself wondering whether we have a future, or are just too different to make it for the long-term. While I’ve known for a while that I’m more adventurous than he is, I really never thought it might be an issue given that we both share similar life goals (we both want to have kids). The differences during our trip seemed even more pronounced than when we’re together in the city where we both live. To give you just one example, while I was okay with checking out a couple of sights, I found my boyfriend’s idea of mapping out which sights to see and when (not to mention which meals we would eat and where) completely boring. I wanted our days to be unscheduled, so that we could head to different areas of the city depending on our mood that day, check out whatever sights we came across, and stop in at local restaurants along the way which looked promising. Any hope for us?
A : Your question reveals one of my dating guidelines: since people reveal themselves through time and interaction, be open to exploring compatibility by allowing a relationship to unfold over time and interaction. Your example reminded me of a presentation I attended at a matchmakers conference a few years ago. The presenter, a research professor of anthropology and the scientific advisor to a division of Match.com, Dr Helen Fisher, had developed a theory that while each of us is a combination of all four personality types, each person primarily expresses one of four broad personality types.
In her book, Why Him? Why Her?, Fisher explains how understanding your partner’s personality type can help you navigate the ups and downs in a relationship. From your example, it appears that you are primarily an “Explorer,” while your boyfriend is primarily a “Builder.” “Explorers” are typically described as novelty-seeking, energetic, risk-taking, and adventurous; whereas “Builders” are characteristically cautious, conventional, stable and respectful of rules and traditions.
While your differing temperaments can pose challenges, such as that experienced during your travel, they can also result in powerful complementary teamwork. An example of this complementary teamwork: as you had mentioned the two of you share the life goal of wanting kids, your future family life can be enriched by the sense of adventure (provided by you) and security and stability (provided by your boyfriend).
Both of your mindsets will likely determine the prospects of your relationship. Do you positively focus on teamwork by viewing each other’s differences as contributing complementary strengths to the union; or alternatively, negatively focus on the challenges by viewing each other’s differences as weaknesses warranting modification?
Jasbina is the founder and president of Intersections Match, the only personalized matchmaking and dating coaching firm serving singles of South Asian descent in the United States. She is also the host of Intersections Talk Radio, a monthly lifestyle show. www.IntersectionsMatch.com.Jasbina@intersectionsmatch.com.