“For two personalities to meet is like mixing two chemical substances: if there is any combination at all, both are transformed.” -- Carl Jung
THE MAGNETICS OF LOVE
by Jen Kleiner
As the saying goes, "opposites attract." In forming our romantic relationships, we all respond to mates like magnets. Each of us must have opposite magnetizing properties to come together, polarizing energetically to form a complimentary bond. It's the joining of opposites to experience the balance of the whole.
I recently interviewed Dr. Harville Hendrix, family mentor and co-founder of Imago Relationship Therapy. He teaches the psychological specifics on how opposites attract in his series of best-selling books, Getting The Love You Want & Keeping The Love You Find. Dr. Hendrix explains that each of us is somewhere on a spectrum between minimizing and maximizing. Just like sexual preference is on a continuum, so is adaptation personality (aspects of personality affected by outside stimulus). So when we come together with a significant 'other,' one has a natural adaptation toward minimizing and the other, toward maximizing.
If you tend towards the minimizing side of the spectrum, it means that you minimize emotions or reactions; that of others and yourself. Naturally contracting rather expanding, you pull in and wall off like a turtle in a hail storm if the threat of an emotional confrontation is near. In fact, when intense emotions fly, you try to contain them like a firefighter would to a wildfire. When feeling threatened, wounded or overwhelmed, mini’s tend to shut down, disconnect and stop engaging. Looking cool and collected on the outside, minimizers secretly struggle with managing uncomfortable feelings on the inside. Anger is the easiest to access if you are pushed to express yourself. Public vulnerability, however, is much more difficult to achieve and requires the cultivation of safe space to express vulnerable thoughts and emotions without feeling punished in some way from sharing them.
The archetype of the minimizer is the outsider. The core wound is the experience of not being understood and feeling as if there is no room or safety to share your emotional experience. Most likely when you were growing up, you learned to believe that expressing emotion would have negative repercussions; either damaging the people you care about or causing them to react with upset; misinterpreting, criticizing, blaming, shaming, or embarrassing you for sharing your feelings. Maybe they just didn’t have the capacity to listen, instead only talking about themselves. Either way, you grew up internalizing the belief that here is no room for your emotional experience and therefore have a hard making space for not only your own, but your significant other’s emotions as well.
If you tend towards the maximizing side of the spectrum, it means that you maximize emotions or reactions, that of others and yourself. You tend to exaggerate when speaking and embellish details to emphasize your point, fearing that people might disregard what you are saying unless doing so. Like the peacock, who expands its feathers when threatened or when posturing, maximizers expand on their thoughts and feelings, often over-sharing or dominating conversations in an effort to feel seen, valued and respected. They may also have difficulty with boundaries, over-focusing or feeling dependent on others for a sense of connection and well-being.
The archetype of the maximizer is the invisible one, and the core wound is the experience of repeatedly feeling unseen, unheard or disregarded. In childhood, Maxi’s often experienced caregivers who were unable to be consistent with their attention, so they learned that over-engaging or getting 'big' (or even sick) could help achieve a sense of being seen, valued and adored.