My boyfriend and I have been in a committed relationship for 4 years now. Things have been going great for us — in fact, we’re getting married next year.
Still, sometimes I wonder — how did we get this far?
You see, we’re complete opposites. He’s fire and I’m water.
Let me explain.
He’s logic-based in his thought processes. He sees solutions to problems in black and white — it’s either good or bad, yes or no, right or wrong — there are no grey areas. He’s physically active and seeks out an adrenaline rush whenever he can.
He’s righteous and stubborn, and won’t back down from fighting for what’s right. He needs to be left alone when we argue — no talk, no contact, just some space and time to cool down.
He’s had his share of experiences in life even though he’s two years younger than I am, because he started working much earlier than I did. He knows how to carry himself in social settings, regardless of the company.
Meanwhile, here I am, the complete opposite. I’m emotional, and I find solutions based on what hurts people least. I believe in grey areas, and not extremes.
I like staying within my comfort zone, and will leave a scene or give in just to avoid conflict. When we argue, I need to know that we’ll be alright, and would try to seek peace and make amends immediately.
I was naive and trusting, socialising only after graduating from university. I didn’t know the norms; I was socially awkward.
Our first and second year together were turbulent – we were still learning to overcome our differences. It took more than just a couple of tries.
People often say that opposites attract, but no one warned us about how complete opposites can be difficult to adapt to.
He Took at Least 6 Months to Learn That a Relationship Isn’t Black and White
I remember one of the first few arguments we had. At the time, he was concerned about my well-being. I was sleeping at 4AM in the morning and skipping meals due to my studies and assignments.
He felt that that was wrong, and so we argued. He said I was not taking good care of myself, and that I was making him worried, and that was wrong.
Of course, he was right. That wasn’t the way to go about my studies. Logically, I knew that.
I didn’t want to worry him, so I apologized, and slowly switched to a healthier lifestyle.
The next few arguments had the same pattern. He was right, and I was wrong. Apologies. Promise to do better.
I realised that our arguments were nothing like what I saw from my friends’ relationships. Why wasn’t he letting me win an argument? Why wasn’t he backing down? Why was he so logical? Does he not see that I feel hurt when we argue like this? Does he not want to stop arguing?
It then dawned on me that his way of solving a conflict is by proving that he’s right through logic. If he knows he’s right, he won’t back down.
The only way I can win an argument with him was to literally debate him – fight logic with logic.
The problem was that he’s a good debater.
“I’m hurt. I’m sad,” wasn’t reason enough to stop fighting. It was only when he was quiet from a (previous) argument one day that I managed to talk some sense into him.
I told him that a relationship isn’t like a computer, it’s not just 0’s and 1’s – it’s emotions too. I said that there’s no sense in having a relationship that was a computer program.
After all, a relationship wouldn’t even have been there if it wasn’t for emotions in the first place, right?
That managed to get through his stubborn little skull somehow. After a few minutes alone, he came back to me and apologized. He told me that my points got through to him, and he really shouldn’t have focused so much on logical arguments in our relationship. Emotions matter too.
That was the only time in 4 years that he apologized to me after an argument and admitted that I was right. Thankfully, he now cares for how I feel a lot more than he used to, even if my emotions may not be logical sometimes – when I PMS, for example.
I Took Over 1 Year to Learn to Keep My Mouth Shut When He’s Angry
I never really understood his need for space. I am a considerably clingy person, and I feel anxious whenever we argue. I would feel the need to resolve arguments instantly and get it over with just so we can go back to our happy times.
Whenever he gets angry, he would go completely quiet. He told me that he just needs some space to cool his head. He knows that he has a temper, and he doesn’t want to say things he might regret in the heat of the moment.
I wasn’t used to arguments. Every time it happens, I would feel like a break-up is imminent. I feared that he would just say, “I’m done. Let’s break up,” and leave.
That is not true. Logically and emotionally, an argument is just an argument — we will get through it.
I knew that, yet the fear is always there. So, every time we argued and he needed his space, I pushed him — asked to talk, tell me what it was that I did wrong, and what did he want me to do to make it right.
Of course, pushing a person to talk when they want to be left alone is not a good idea. It only made our arguments worse, but I was stubborn in my own ways too. I just wanted peace.
It was only when we had some of our worst arguments which almost led to our break-up that I realized I need to accept that this is how he works. He needs space, and I need to respect that and adapt to it. After all, it’s not like he asks for space and time alone during other times.
So, I learnt to stay quiet. I learnt to leave him alone when he was angry, but I let him know that I’m ready to talk whenever he is.
I’m still learning, but now I take this alone time to cool my own emotions as well. Even during this silent phase of our arguments, we still care about each other.
He might not want to talk to me or even look at me, but he would get me food when it’s time to eat. He’ll even ask me if I want to follow him out if he has to run an errand.
When our silent time nears the end, I’ll offer to give him shoulder massages and back rubs.
If he feels better, he would say yes. That’s how I know that we’ll be okay soon.
We Try to Build Common Ground
We barely have the same interests. It was only thanks to the parkour classes where we met — him as a coach, and I as a student, that we managed grow familiar with each other.
That was how I knew that we needed more common interests.
I went to car meets with him. Sometimes, when he needs to work at the pit stops in Sepang, I’ll follow him — not to work, but just to learn more about his world.
I did what I could to actively take interest in his career, his interests and so on. I ask him questions about car modifications, and he would give me small bits of information about car parts when I follow him to the workshop.
On the rare occasions that I want to go out for other activities — like cafe visits, music / orchestra performances, or even to watch movies he finds questionable, he tags along.
He also takes the time to learn more about scientific topics I’m interested in, sometimes asking me to explain the latest scientific findings or psychology concepts to him.
Ultimately, it’s the effort that matters.
To Other Completely Opposite Couples Out There…
Just enjoy the present and do things together. If you are just starting out as a couple, I can warn you that it will get a little difficult until you find common interests.
There’s going to be the honeymoon phase where it’s all like, “Oh my gosh, it’s so true that opposites attract!” and then, right afterwards, you’re going to find so many behaviours and trains of thought that you disagree with and simply don’t understand.
It’s goes a little downhill from there. This is where I see other opposite-couples break up, because they just don’t see it working out.
But if nothing is toxic, trust me, you can create a stronger bond together through other means. Once you get past this difficult gap, everything will be just fine.
Even if you can’t possibly play DOTA or PUBG with him, that’s fine — you can watch him play from time to time and listen to him talk about how stupid the last game went. You can watch your own movies, and rant to him about how bad the latest Game of Thrones episode was even if he doesn’t watch it.
Contrary to popular beliefs, you can do different things together.
Focus on Common Interests
When you eventually find the same interest, focus on that to bond with each other.
Early on in our relationship, we took the five Love Languages test just to understand how we express love and how we feel loved. We found out that our top two love languages were the same – physical touch and quality time.
So, when we meet, we hold hands, we hug and cuddle. If we were indeed doing different things together, we would still take short breaks just to give each other a kiss on the forehead or give a good job pat on the back. That’s tending to our needs for physical touch.
When we go on vacations, we focus on each other – minimal phone interactions. If one of us is talking about something, the other would not interrupt. We talk about our future together and look for things that we would want for each other. That’s quality time.
Remember That It’s an Ongoing Process
Your boyfriend is not going to love going shopping for makeup products with you right away, and you are never going to be as immersed in his games or hobbies as he is.
I think it’s important to remember that you are always going to learn more about each other and adapt to these new things you learn. Four years in, and we’re still learning so much about each other.
He’s still trying to grasp this whole ‘ranting’ concept. I would have to tell him early on that I don’t want any advice on how he would have solved my issue.
I have to stress that I just need to rant. I guess guys just have this thing with unwarranted problem solving, eh?
Meanwhile, I too am still working on solving problems with logic and putting my emotions aside so that I can solve issues more effectively. It’s still difficult for me to make decisions without emotions clouding my judgement.
Ultimately, I believe that opposites do attract – perhaps as a way for two extremes to meet in the middle through endless learning, compromising and adapting.
For more articles on how to keep a good relationship with your partner, read Living Together and Going on a Short Holiday Can’t Save Your Relationship, and 5 Ways To Know If You Have A Future With Your Partner In Malaysia.