Denver Bar Association
February 2001
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The Valentine Connection


Couples blissfully in love say: "We have so much in common!" That would be in the first part of the relationship.

Fast forward a few months or years and what you invariably hear is: "We’re so different."

What’s going on here?

Carl Jung believed that opposites both attract and fascinate each other. His theory was that "a person casts a shadow of all that one is not, all that one has not developed, expressed or lived out in oneself. And so, in being attracted to our opposite, it’s as if we are looking for that rejected, abandoned or unlived half of ourselves." In his theory, we are seeking completion. (Quotes and much information are taken from Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey.)

After the honeymoon period is over, and each person’s traits and differences become clearer (and annoying), the next thing that usually happens is what Keirsey calls "the Pygmalion Project."

"We go to all the bother of finding mates more or less unlike ourselves . . . and then we pull out all the stops in our attempt to transform them into our own image." Almost everyone does it, he says. The sculpturing begins, with a tap here and there, and then a full-scale makeover is attempted. At its most benign, this attempt at change leads to irritation; at its worst, it causes divorce or breakups.

"Yet, consider the supreme irony where we succeed in transforming our loved ones. Attracted in the first place by their differences, can we be anything but dissatisfied by changing them into copies of ourselves?"

He suggests that the first step toward happiness is recognizing that you’re trying to change your mate. The next is to hold your tongue when you’re tempted to fix the other person. "Then we might, just might, remember to appreciate what attracted us in the first place."



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