Do Conflict Opposites Attract?

17 Oct

Let me begin this post by emphasizing that the following theory is not based on the scientific method or a formal survey, but, rather, on what I consider one of the most useful kinds of surveys–random sample.

So, here’s the theory: I think many of us end up in relationships in which one person is the, shall we say, “expressive” party in the argument, and one person is the “silent/quiet/passive-aggressive” party. Better put: in my experience working with couples, I’ve noticed a pattern–one half of the couple seems to shout/raise his or her voice/argue loudly during a disagreement, and the other half seems to use the silent treatment/ignore the other person/use a passive-aggressive stance during a disagreement.images

All of this made me wonder if we are intuitively attracted to someone who has a different conflict style than ourselves. Heck, I’ll even use my own marriage as an example. My husband grew up with a pretty “opinionated” Mother who faced arguments with a head-on, no-nonsense, say-it-like-you-mean-it stance (BTW–his Dad had the opposite style, but my husband spent WAY more time with his Mother).

I didn’t.

So, when we get in a disagreement, I usually (and ever so arrogantly) lower my voice and stay calm in order to shift the power to my side. This drives my husband bonkers–all he wants to do is argue and get it over with! So, his voice goes up, my voice goes down, and we usually end up meeting somewhere in the middle (i.e. he usually apologizes for being wrong)!

Am I right about my theory? I’ll probably never know–but, it hasn’t been proven wrong yet!


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