My best friend Annie and I recently had an argument about which is better when it comes to relationships: being alike or being different. I think that being different can be exciting, offer surprises, and add new ways of thinking to the mix. Annie claims that common life goals and a similar perspective build a strong foundation for a lasting relationship. I believe that being with your doppleganger gets boring after awhile, whereas Annie believes that always disagreeing can get boring after a while.
We’ve been back and forth and have now decided to bring the conversation to you with a good old fashion debate! Or a slightly condensed version. I’ll make my case, Annie will offer her rebuttal, and then we’ll both conclude. Next: you decide who’s right.
I really loved debate in high school. Annie doesn’t stand a chance!
Common ground is a great basis for a friendship. We all need to have someone in our lives who feels similarly and can see what we see. But the difference is that there are no limits on friendship – you can have as many platonic relationships as you want. When looking for that one and only someone to share the rest of your life with, you need more. Someone who can help you grow and experience life in more ways than you could accomplish on your own. Someone who makes you question all your preconceived notions, which then helps to either validate your current point of view or broaden your horizons.
The best part is that over time, as you get to know each other and expose each other to new things, you’ll become more alike. You’ll grow closer instead of apart, and have a lot of interesting adventures along the way!
Oh Emma, you’ve got it the wrong way around! Yes, there are no limits on how many friends you can have. And that’s exactly why friends are the perfect people to help you have new and different experiences. No limits means a large variety and that’s what encourages you to grow.
But a partner in life is just that. A partner. The one person who knows you and understands you best of all. Someone who wants to help you achieve your goals because your objectives and values and theirs are one and the same. If your dream is to build a home and have a family, it’s absolutely necessary that they want the same, especially with so many options for work/life balance these days. If you want to travel the world and see everything, you can’t share your life unless they are sitting on the plane next to you. The world is full of chances for adventure and change, but what you should be looking for in a relationship is someone who is home to you. No matter where you are.
Emma’s rebuttal and conclusion:
Finding someone who wants and believes the same things you do is the same as dating yourself. And no matter how awesome you are, you most likely have not reached your fullest potential. We all need something more and finding it is the quest of a lifetime.
The difference between a relationship and a strong friendship is romance. Excitement. Attraction. For example, if you are a practical and sensible sort and you go out with someone who is the same, then you will have a sensible and practical date. Where’s the thrill? The larger than life, I’ve never felt like this, you’ve changed my world brand of magic???? THAT’S romance! It doesn’t have to make sense on paper; it has to open up your world so that the colors are a little brighter and you see a different reflection in the mirror.
Don’t pick someone because the choice seems like a safe and logical guarantee. Pick someone who scares you, excites you, and dares you to be your best and bravest self. That’s the point!
People always value what is rare. Like gold and diamonds, finding someone who GETS you is one of the rarest and most precious things in the world. Finding people who are different than you are is easy. Finding someone who knows you because you tell them who you are and they listen just boils down to good communication skills. The real prize is someone who is in on the secret. Sees what only you can see. Understands what no one else ever seems to understand, and values what you know is valuable.
The rare and precious is what’s magical. Discovering someone you didn’t think actually existed, that ideal match, is the romance and the thrill. And agreeing to spend the rest of your life with someone who wants what you want and is willing to help you get it makes your impossible dreams suddenly seem possible. That’s true love. That’s the point.
Annie and I are both aware that in a perfect world you can have it all. Someone who is both alike AND different from you. Someone who reinforces and agrees with the best parts of yourself but also challenges you to find new and better ways of thinking and being. But if you had to choose which is more important to you – having things in common or being exposed to something different – which would you choose? What is more important for a successful relationship? We look forward to hearing your thoughts!