How much is your guy like you?
Do you think alike?
Do you share the same beliefs, values, and preferences?
Do you think those similarities are the reason you get along so well?
If you think your guy is a lot like you AND that’s why your relationship works so well, then what I’m about to tell you might come as a bit of a shock.
Your guy is MUCH less like you than you think.
Not only that, but it’s your attitude towards your differences that will make or break your relationship.
Couples who know they’re from separate planets—but find humor and pleasure in their differences—are more likely to go the distance than couples who form their identity around being two of a kind.
Here are 3 reasons why it’s time to start dismantling the myth of a “perfect match”…
1. The False Consensus Effect
We tend to assume that other people think like us.
If something bothers us, we tend to assume it bothers everyone.
If we know something to be true, we tend to believe that everyone knows it.
This is a cognitive bias known as the false consensus effect.
We assume that most people agree with us, and we don’t realize the extent to which people are different from us.
This effect is strengthened when we hang around with other people like us, follow the social media accounts of people who think like us, and avoid situations where we’d feel out of place (such as traveling).
It can get us into quite a mess.
When we believe that the way we think is how everyone thinks, we tend to disparage people who think differently. There’s something wrong with them. If they were normal, they’d be more like us.
No wonder we tend to prefer romantic partners who make us feel comfortable.
It’s a delight to meet someone who agrees with us in so many ways. He reinforces our feeling that we’re right in our beliefs. We feel like we’ve met a kindred soul.
But this delight in our similarities doesn’t last.
The more you get to know one another, the more you realize that you are, in fact, VERY different people.
Even though you should know better, it still comes as a surprise… and you’re disappointed.
Here you thought you found your soulmate, your male half, someone who fit you like a glove.
Instead, he’s like an ill-fitting glove that fits a finger or two, while the rest are too short or too long.
Should you bid him goodbye and keep looking for that man who’s a perfect fit?
Well, the “perfect fit” might not be as perfect as you think…
2. The Assumption Trap
I remember girlfriends telling me excitedly, “I’ve met the male me!”
They were thrilled to have met someone who seemed like a male version of themselves.
Ironically, having so much in common didn’t help them communicate.
They were more likely to assume that their partner thought the way they did. They jumped to conclusions instead of asking. They went ahead with what they wanted, assuming their partner wanted the same thing, without checking in.
Greater miscommunication and more hurt feelings.
No one can read another person’s mind.
Even though it may seem to you that you know your partner inside and out, and you can predict what he’s going to say and think, those assumptions take away his right to agency.
He’s the only one who gets to decide what he thinks and feels. He has the right to disagree with you. He has the right to surprise you.
When you assume you’re alike in everything that matters, you close the door on surprises. You no longer feel curious. You assume you know everything there is to know about him.
Those assumptions start to suffocate your relationship…
But they’re not as bad as the pressure he feels to live up to your beliefs about him.
3. The Pressure to Conform
When you tell everyone how much you and your new guy are alike, he feels pleased that you’re bragging about him… but also weirded out.
Because he doesn’t want to be the male version of you. He wants to be himself.
But he senses that you’ve decided you’re destined to be together because of how alike you are.
If he says, “Actually, we are quite different in some very important ways,” he risks pushing you away.
Making a big deal out of the areas where he disagrees with you risks letting you down. You might think you’re not as compatible as you thought. That could be the end of the relationship.
I’ve written before about how compatibility matters less than we think.
Unhappy couples tend to blame their unhappiness on incompatibility, but happy couples are no more similar than unhappy couples. It’s just that happy couples don’t make an issue out of their differences.
Differences are part of life. They keep things spicy. You wouldn’t want a relationship with your clone; you’d get bored fast.
So don’t make too big of a deal about how much you’re alike. Love falls hard for differences.
What to Do With Your Differences
The best attitude to deal with all the ways in which he’s different to you is curiosity.
When you first meet someone, of course you’re going to want to find out how you’re alike.
But you’re also going to find out where you’re different.
You’re going to want to listen to him and ask him questions and find out what makes him tick.
If you can’t accept and respect the ways in which he’s different, then you don’t have much of a future.
Now, that’s not to say that you have to LIKE all the ways in which he’s different! That would be impossible.
You just have to take it for granted that anyone you’re with is not going to be a perfect fit.
When you start a relationship based on the assumption that you are different people and that’s okay, you don’t set yourself up for inevitable disappointment.
You’re realistic about how compatibility works. You don’t expect perfection.
Having a partner who’s different can be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity to expand yourself and experiment with new ideas. We grow when we come up against difference. The very best relationships help us become better versions of ourselves.
And relationships that bring out the best in us are the ones most likely to last a lifetime.