Opposites Attract, Actually

Opposites Attract, Actually

Music artist Paula Abdul’s 1988 release, “Opposites Attract” (written by songwriter Oliver Lieber) couldn’t be more on-point in describing how two opposite personality styles really can attract. In the lyrics, it seems completely ridiculous that the two opposing personality styles of what seems to be an “I” and an “S” or “C” paired together shouldn’t repel each other (i.e. one liking to stay up late and party while the other prefers to be in bed early). However, there are many instances it couldn’t be more the case that opposite personalities actually do attract.

First Understand Yourself, Then Understand Your Partner

DISC quadrantsIn looking at the DISC style chart, the “D” and the “S “styles are opposite and the “I” and the “C” styles are opposite. 

  • The “D” style is very quick to make decisions, direct in his talk and actions, task-oriented and active. This style’s greatest fear is being taken advantage of.
  • The “I” style is very outgoing, optimistic, and influential, preferring people over tasks and is very active. Their greatest fear is rejection.
  • The “S” style is very steady in pace, slow to make decisions or can be indecisive, prefers to be on a team with other people and are passive. Their greatest fear is loss of security.
  • The “C” style is very concise and systematic, prefers tasks over people and is passive. Their greatest fear is criticism.

If one isn’t behaviorally aware, he or she might unconsciously repel the other style. For example, a “D” being verbally too pushy for an “S” or an “S” seeming too indecisive for a “D.” The “I” committing to do something, but failing to follow through and the “C” holding a grudge because the “I” didn’t keep his or her word when really the “I” just didn’t make the task a priority. Taking a DISC assessment or a course like PeopleKeys’ Intro to Behavioral Analysis as a couple will you to understand each other better.

Check out this example of music star couple, Gwen Steffani and Blake Shelton.

Learn to develop better communication and overcome challenges of different personalities.

As a couple, you should learn to recognize the strengths and limitations of each other’s styles, and learn how to flex your style to meet the needs of your partner. If you’re a “D,” consciously make an effort to slow down and speak to your “S” counterpart in a less “bossy” way. If you’re an “S,” put effort into making a decision without relying on your “D” partner to do it for you…even if they want to anyway. “I” styles, try to keep a calendar and make your person a priority if not the task. And “C’s” try to be more forgiving and don’t be afraid to give a reminder to your “I” counterpart. You won’t hurt and “I’s” feelings as much as when you give the silent treatment.

Most relationships fail because of poor communication. Awareness of your behavioral styles will help you better understand and communicate with each other long-term. Of course, there has to be effort from both sides, as relationships are not one-sided.

Communicate your needs to each other and learn how to respond to those needs. Compromise. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone.

Appreciate each other’s differences and encourage each other.

I took some time to assess my coworkers and friends who are married or in a relationship. Almost all are in a relationship where there is a “D” or “C” task-oriented individual paired with their opposite “S” or “I” people-oriented counterpart. There are a few who have primary “S” styles, but differing secondary styles, which is not surprising since majority of the population is the “S” primary style (63%). What appears to be opposite for each style, when brought together in a relationship, is actually their unique and different strengths working together to create a natural balance and harmony. When asked what they appreciate about each other’s differences, here are some of the responses:

  • “My “C” wife makes sure I don’t walk out the door with my clothes mismatched.”
  • “I like that my “D” boyfriend can make decisions quickly because I’m so indecisive.”
  • “My “I” fiance always knows how to cheer me up and make me laugh after a hard day at work.”
  • “My “S” husband really shows how much he appreciates me by putting little notes in my lunchbox every day.”

In these examples, you can see how one style’s strengths helps to overcome the limitations of the other’s. The opposites are actually a complementary match, and behaviorally aware couples know how to utilize the strengths of each other’s styles while being conscientious and understanding of their limitations. This helps create empathy within the relationship and also opens each other up to new experiences and ideas. The best part is that not dating yourself means you’ll never get bored.

Check out this blog post by Dr. Bradley Smith on Where Communication Takes Place to learn more about how each of the styles communicate best. Awareness of your own style and those around you is the key to opening communication for a successful relationship. Think about the strengths of the individuals around you and how you might surround yourself with people of different personalities than your own to utilize their unique strengths.

Picture of Emily Miller

Written by: Emily Miller

Emily is the marketing manager of PeopleKeys. She's responsible to inform everyone about the latest trends and developments of our DISC products. Personality Style: CSI