Do Opposites Really Attract?

By Margaret, 30 December, 2019.
Esther Perel is a therapist, author and speaker. She has explored the tension between the need for security (love, belonging and closeness) and the need for freedom (erotic desire, adventure and distance) in human relationships.

Esther Perel's ideas are instantly familiar and resonate deeply with us all. They just haven't been discussed in such a relatable way before.

Do opposites attract? In an interview Esther says "The great dynamic of relationships is that the very thing that initially attracted you because it was different, is the thing that becomes the source of conflict, because it is different"

Perel believes that people are not fixed entities in relationships. That is, we make each other. Who we are and our behaviours actually draw the very behaviour that we do not want. In a relationship, if I am with someone who is rigid and say "this is who I am, you won't change me", then that may elicit in me the constant desire to want to change them."

Does this sound familiar to you? Unfortunately, the more I want to change them, the more determined they will become to remain static and rigid. the more they become static and rigid and state "this is who I am, I want you to love me as I am," the more I will try to change them.

Perel calls this "the more, the more" and believes it is the basic dance of relationships.

So, should we just accept how they are from the beginning?

As with so many things in life, it comes back to ourselves and our behaviour and attitude. If we change they way we look at things, the things we look at change. Or, as Perel says, "if you want to change the other - change yourself."

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Margaret Newitt
Licence number 3338670