Relationships are tricky! Most people would agree with this statement. Some relationships need to be constantly worked at, others drift along and are not too exciting, still others work without too much effort but all of them need a little give and take.

One of the reasons for this is that we are all individuals and have different ways of responding to the environment.

Psychologists or counsellors who deal with divorce situations often talk about the fact that what originally attracted people to each other is the same thing that eventually causes the break up.

It is often said that opposites attract and this is possibly true. Our opposite often represents our shadow or hidden personality and we instinctively know that if we could get in touch with this part of our personality we would be more whole.

People who are quiet are sometimes attracted, if the chemistry is right, to those who are more vocal (they can of course be repelled). This is due to the recognition of something they lack in their own personality. It could be that they think the person will bring them out a bit or that they will help them relax more, but often we hanker after that which we do not have.

When psychologists recognise these factors of attraction turning to antagonism in a break up, what becomes apparent is that there was nothing else holding the relationship together. If this is the case then very soon the loudness or quietness of the other will begin to get on the opposite type's nerves and there will be nothing else to sustain this relationship. What happens is that the relationship degenerates into criticism usually of the thing that first attracted and then arguments, huffs, regret panic and blame become the norm.

This is due to frustration that the relationship we sought is not working out the way we had envisioned. The tragedy is that this is so common. Often people are locked together in marriages that should never have been made and cannot get out because of shared responsibilities and finances.

Since marriage is the most important relationship that any of us enter into, it stands to reason that we should be very careful in considering our life partner. The reality is that attraction, passion and sex usually get in the way of rational decisions and all too many of us end up with dissatisfactory if not downright futile relationships.

The truth is that opposites do attract but relationships only work out well if our goals and values are synchronised with those of our partner. The major challenge in this is that most people do not have goals and may even have difficulty verbalising their values.

Think about your life's aim, what do you envisage for yourself, what do you prize above other things? These two steps will get you close to working out your goals and values. When you meet someone and the relationship has moved to the stage where longevity is a consideration, it would be worthwhile asking your partner what his or her goals and values are. If they are very different from yours this is a huge clue to how the relationship will turn out once the initial romance has passed, and it usually does, or is at least less intense.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that they can change someone. This is utter folly. The hardest thing to do is change behaviour even our own when we are committed to the change. How much harder would it be to try to change someone against his or her will?

Next month's article will explore how personality profiling can help with our major life decisions. If you have a crucial lifetime decision to make, hold off until you read the article. As with most things in life it is often wise to inject a little time before rushing headlong into long-term commitments.

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Author's Bio: 

Director, PeopleMaps Ltd

PeopleMaps was founded by Anne Gibbons-Ellis (MSc, MBPS, FCIPD). Anne is a member of the British Psychological Society and has many years of experience working in the worlds of business and education. She is an Educational Consultant and University Lecturer on Business Psychology. She is also a motivational speaker addressing audiences worldwide under the title, "I'm not OK - you're not OK".