Most people say that opposites attract and it can be helpful to find a partner with opposite personality characteristics to balance you out. In my opinion and personal experience, this is bad advice and a recipe for incompatibility. For example, if you like to have things planned out ahead of time and are very well organized, but your partner is much more spontaneous, then that spontaneity may drive you crazy. Similarly, if your partner is very active, talkative, extroverted, and always likes to be around people and you would rather enjoy a quiet night to yourself, are less talkative, and a bit introverted, then it is likely that you will have more conflicts and disagreements about how to spend your time with your partner. This doesn’t mean that you have to share every interest and personality trait, but in general having similar personality traits, values and interests can lead to greater harmony, less conflicts, and more peace in a relationship.
Similarly, your attachment dimension and how it interacts with your partner’s attachment dimension can determine your potential compatibility in a relationship. Another word for attachment dimension is your preferred degree of intimacy or closeness level in a romantic relationship. For example, knowing how much time you prefer to spend with your partner and how much time you prefer to be by yourself in a relationship is an important personality trait to be aware of in yourself and your partner. If you prefer to have more alone time or time for yourself to recharge and your partner prefers to spend all of their time with you and does not prefer for you to have as much alone time for yourself to recharge, then that is a potential recipe for high conflict and incompatibility.
Attachment dimensions in romantic relationship is something that psychologists have studied in depth. Recent researchers and psychologists have described three basic types of attachment dimensions or attachment styles:
- Secure attachment dimension
- Insecure-anxious attachment dimension
- Insecure-avoidant attachment dimension
People have various degrees of all three types of these attachment dimensions or personality traits. However, their degree varies in each individual and some may have stronger levels of a certain attachment dimension. For example, some people have greater degrees of insecure-anxious attachment. People who have high levels of insecure-anxious attachment dimensions typically prefer to have higher levels of closeness in romantic relationships and greater fears of abandonment. Other traits of having high levels of insecure-anxious attachment dimension include:
– Having such a high desire to get close to people that others may be scared off
– Wanting to spend excessive amounts of time with a partner
– Feeling anxious or resentful when a partner wants to spend time alone
– Needing excessive reassurance, approval, emotional support from a partner
– Wanting to completely merge your identity into your relationship or with your partner
– Excessive and unhealthy expression of emotion and difficulty regulating emotion
– Viewing normal conflicts in a relationship as a threat to the stability of a relationship or their identity
– Constantly texting or calling your partner to check in
– Feeling threatened or anxious when your partner is away on a business or work trip
On the other hand, people who have high levels of insecure-avoidant attachment dimensions typically fear closeness in a romantic relationship and want excessive levels of independence in a relationship. Other traits of high levels of insecure-avoidant dimension include:
– Fearing feeling engulfed in a relationship
– Repression or suppression of emotion
– Difficulty telling your partner your authentic feelings
– Feeling uncomfortable and pulling away when you get too close to a romantic partner
– Needing higher levels of alone or “me” time
– Not feeling comfortable discussing your concerns or difficulties with your partner
– Being overly independent or distant in a relationship
In the middle and ideal is to have high levels of secure-attachment dimension. People with high levels of secure attachment dimension want a healthy balance of distance and closeness and intimacy in a relationship. High levels of secure-attachment dimension include
– Relationships based on interdependence rather than dependence or excessive independence
– Feeling comfortable with intimacy in a relationship
– Viewing conflicts with your partner as a chance to better understand your partner, share your feelings, and grow your relationship
– Generally having good views of your partner’s intentions and behaviors.
– Allowing a healthy balance of time for yourself and your own interests and friends and allowing your partner to have time for their own unique interests and friends, while also having time to be together with your partner
Ideally, it is best for two partners to have a secure attachment dimension for the highest level of compatibility. Yet, like many personality traits, it is not possible or healthy to strive for perfection; and everyone possesses some elements of avoidant, anxious, and secure attachment dimensions. Additionally, research has shown that attachment dimensions can change over time. It is possible to find a compatible romantic partner who has a different attachment dimension than us if you are willing to make some compromises and adjustments to your preferred level of intimacy and closeness in a relationship.
For example, if you have some avoidant tendencies and your partner has some anxious tendencies, then you may need to provide your partner extra reassurance when you are taking time for yourself or be willing to sacrifice some of your “me time” to spend more time with your partner. Moreover, by knowing and having a better understanding of the strengths and challenges of our own attachment dimensions and our partner’s attachment dimensions, then we can have a better idea of how to pick a compatible romantic partner and have a healthy, lasting relationship.
Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D. is the founder of Spiritual Media Blog. After graduating from law school Dr. Welsh created Spiritual Media Blog to be a source of inspirational content, media, and entertainment. He began his career in Hollywood working for an entertainment agency, the William Morris Agency, and then as a trial lawyer for the Department of Child Services in Indiana. He realized that he was not happy working as a lawyer. So, he quit his job as a lawyer to pursue his calling to become a psychologist and obtained his PhD in Psychology. He now works as a full-time psychologist. Spiritual Media Blog is a website that features guest posts, articles, interviews, and reviews about spirituality, psychology, and inspirational entertainment.