We’ve all dated people who are similar to us and some who are different – but those who are the opposite might actually be the key to relationship success, according to psychotherapist Dr Krista Jordan.
We’ve all heard the saying opposites attract, right?
The idea that two vastly different people can find a spark that their differences can’t get in the way of is a tale as old as time and is something that many people believe – but there are some who don’t.
But sometimes those differences don’t even come down to having opposing views on important issues or liking different types of entertainment – sometimes they lie at the very core of who we are as people and how our personality types differ.
A personality theory that often comes up is Type A and Type B – a hypothesis first devised in the 1950s by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman.
“Type A personality is a style that was first described in the 1950s having to do with people who were prone to heart disease,” says psychotherapist Dr Krista Jordan.
“Originally the style was described as people who were very achievement-focused, driven, competitive, impatient, and highly time-sensitive as well as aggressive.
“Over time researchers found that it was only the aggression component that was linked to heart disease. Meanwhile, Type B personality was defined as the absence of Type A traits. Generally, Type B people are described as relaxed, cooperative, and easygoing.”
“Type A personalities are notoriously pernickety about time,” says Dr Jordan.
“They hate to be late and often hate it when others are late. So that is likely to come up quickly in a dating scenario. They may also be more competitive so if you have them over to play Monopoly – prepare to be beaten with a vengeance.”
Type B personalities are the opposite in that they don’t like too much competition or high-stress situations, according to Dr Jordan.
“They would be more likely to enjoy a collaborative activity like taking a canoe out on the lake together.”
“Type As have a higher need to be in charge and even dominate so expect them to want to take the lead when planning dates,” says Dr Jordan.
“They may be more interested in situations where there is an element of competition or winning. They like to feel productive versus ‘wasting time.’ Type Bs, again, is defined by being the opposite. A Type B person is the sort of partner who says ‘whatever you want’ when asked where to go for dinner, or ‘I don’t care’ when asked which movie to see.
Now, some might wonder if it’s Type As or Type Bs who have an easier ride in the dating game, but, as noted by Jordan, each individual situation is different and both personality types have their challenges.
“Type As need to be careful not to overly dominate their partner in dating. They need to remember that not everything is a competition and that maintaining connection is more important than winning,” warns Jordan.
“Type As would do well to realise that relaxing and ‘not doing anything’ is actually good for the brain and nervous system and therefore has value in moderation. Type A’s also need to learn how to manage their irritability and quickness to anger so that they don’t turn off dating partners by appearing hostile.”
Jordan adds that Type B’s often find it challenging to “up their game” from time to time and create more interesting dates when it comes to dating Type As.
“Not everyone thinks the perfect date is hanging out at home watching Netflix and eating leftovers,” says Jordan. “From time to time they need to create more interesting dates that might involve a little friendly competition or actually being highly productive and achieving something.”
Whenever you have two people with very different traits getting into a relationship with each other, there is going to have to be growth for both parties. And the reality is, people who are vastly different from you can teach you a lot and expand your horizons. But the key to it all for both Type As and Type Bs is finding balance – especially when dating each other.
“The difficulty is in respecting the positive attributes of each other’s styles instead of villainising them,” advises Jordan.
“If you want to have a relationship where your partner makes perfect sense to you but the relationship ultimately may not last, pick your type. If you want to have a relationship in which your partner will sometimes confuse you, and yes, sometimes even irritate you because of their differences, but in the end learn and grow in substantial ways, you may want to pick from the other side of the fence.”