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How to Accept Your Differences for Relationship Success

Opposites attract, right? But opposites don’t always get along that well. How can you accept your differences as a couple?

differences in relationship

Many star-struck couples soon realize that the person they’re in love with may be someone they know well, but not someone they share the same characteristics, passions, or hobbies with. I do understand that you are very much in love with each other, but you have to understand that you are not clones of each other.

When I fell in love for the first time, I felt as though I had found my soulmate. I thought I had found someone who thought, felt, behaved, and breathed like me! During that time, one of my friends was so in tune with her guy that they didn’t even have to speak to get a word across!

I was so inspired that, deep down in my heart, I knew this was the kind of connection I wanted to have with my soulmate. I wanted to be able to gaze into his eyes and communicate in a weird–perhaps telepathic–kind of way, just like my friend could. At one point, when they invited me to their house for a casual get-together, I could feel them talking to each other, even though they were just glancing at each other.

I felt goose bumps, as if I could actually hear their weird, unspoken conversation. When I fell in love, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Finally! Someone who’s just like me, who likes me back!”

Burst of the bubble–we’re nothing alike!

At some stage in our relationship, the bubble burst, and we found out that we were nothing like each other, no matter how much we were in love. Love’s blindness wore off, and I realized that the weird, unspoken connection I was looking for just wasn’t practical. As the world slowly came into focus, we noticed that the inevitable differences between us began to unveil.

There are three ways of dealing with these differences: you walk away from the person in search for a clone soulmate, you stay in love and forever fight about these differences, or you learn how to respect and live with them in complete harmony. I loved him too much to let go, so unknowingly, I went for option 2: stay in love, but fight. [Read: 50 questions to test your compatibility]

Still in love, but can’t accept the differences–sorry

We are lead to believe that two people can be completely alike when twins were first born. We were told that when one cries, the other cries. When one laughs, the other laughs, too. When one is hungry, the other is also hungry. These were the beliefs, but as much as you want to believe this, it isn’t entirely true.

No matter how identical they look, and despite the fact that they come from the same genetic source, they are largely different in every way possible. If two people from the same womb are not exactly the same, what does that tell you? Nothing or no one on this planet is identical.

But when you’re in love, of course, you will never remember any of this! When you’re in a relationship, simple matters suddenly become very challenging–especially when it comes to thinking.

You might find yourself wondering, “Should I use my mind, heart, or soul before saying anything at all?” At least 70% of the time, you might be using your heart, but your partner might only use his heart 50% of the time. That’s how differences begin.

These differences then spill over into the relationship and either make it sour and stressful, or exciting and interesting. This, again, depends on how you think! [Read: Do couples have to like the same things to have a great relationship?]

Still in love–why can’t you be like me?

We kept on fighting over the littlest things, and it was crazy. For example, I love ketchup on my fries, but he hated ketchup altogether! He liked going to the gym after he showered, and I go before I shower. He liked to stay home on Sundays because of the Monday blues, and I like to trek on mountains because of Monday blues! You get the point, right? Things that don’t really matter started erupting into silly fights and challenges.

What’s the point of staying in love with a person who isn’t like you, right? Wrong. Imagine how weird the world would be if people behaved and thought exactly the same way! There would be no excitement, no thrill, no surprises, no secrets, no laughter–no nothing. Fortunately for us, we were headed for option 3: learn to respect and live with differences in complete harmony.

Still in love–what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine

I realized that by not accepting our differences, our relationship was based on a rocky foundation where anything could go wrong, anytime. We loved each other, and we wanted to be happy. The only way out was to enjoy the uniqueness of one another and grow with each other because, sooner or later, differences don’t matter.

Instead of wasting my time and energy on making him just like me, I decided to accept the differences and began believing in “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine!”

By now, I’m sure you understand that, no matter how many years you’ve loved each other, you cannot be “one individual in two bodies.” What I’ve learned in my love life is that some differences are actually quite beneficial–i.e. he likes to spend, I like to save, and in the end, we’re both happy when we see how much we’ve saved.

What you need to understand is that differences can actually give you great opportunities to grow. Yes, it’s true: he learned how to save and has been spending less! Not all differences are easily digested, in which case you need to learn to accept them and respect them without forced tolerance.

Accepting the differences without losing your mind

Okay, now you might think, “What is the big deal, anyway? It can’t be too difficult to accept differences, right?” Wrong–very wrong! Some differences are totally unacceptable, like waking your partner up at 3 in the morning to make dinner or vacation plans.

That, my friend, is not acceptable… but hey, that’s just me! What I’ve learned in my love life is that there are ways to cope with differences.

#1 Be confident in yourself. Do you suffer from low self-esteem? If so, that’s probably why you can’t accept differences. You need to love yourself, pamper yourself, and boost your self-esteem to see the world with confidence.

Without self-esteem issues in the way, you’ll realize that it’s perfectly fine for someone to like you without being like you. You can accept your differences, and even revel in them, because you’re secure with the way you are, and you don’t need someone to agree with you to feel validated.

#2 Keep the ego aside and be curious, instead. If your partner wakes you up at 3 AM, it might not make sense to you, but instead of telling them that they’re nuts, ask them why they do that. Instead of saying, “Can’t this wait until morning?” say, “Is there a benefit to questioning at this hour that I don’t know about?” See the difference?

#3 Never forget the similarities. I get it: sometimes the differences will just be too difficult to digest. The only way to overpower them is to remember the similarities you share. If you don’t have the same taste in hobbies, but you do in movies, then watch them together more often. If you have absolutely nothing in common except being head over heels for each other, then work your way up from there.

[Read: What couples should talk about to feel closer]

You might think, “Easier said than done, woman!” Yes, I get that a lot. It is difficult, but you love the person, don’t you? If your partner does something in a way that you don’t, it doesn’t mean they are wrong–it means they’re different. What you need to understand is that doing something differently doesn’t make either of you wrong–it makes you unique!

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Lakeisha Ethans
They say life is a roller coaster ride, so I’m here, trying my bit (virtually of course) to make your ride worthwhile. Ups and downs are inevitable, but how y...
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