Finding Your True Love - Part I
People often want to know which of the six Perceptual Styles would make the best match for a romantic relationship. Alas, we have to tell them the mysteries of love are just too deep for any one factor to determine success or failure. The truth is that two people with any of the possible Perceptual Style combinations can and do fall in love, stay in love, and create lasting and meaningful relationships.
That said, there is one aspect of relationships where Perceptual Style Theory™ (PST) can be very useful. All relationships face challenges, and PST can explain and provide useful insights on what the challenges that are Perceptual Style based will be and how to overcome them. These challenges fall into four major categories:
Birds of a feather flock together.
Since we’re neighbors, let’s be friends.
neighbors, let’s be friends.
I understand the words you are speaking, but I have no idea what you mean.
Birds of a Feather Flock Together
People with the same Perceptual Style are often attracted to each other, and for some obvious reasons. Two people with the same Perceptual Style frequently don’t have to explain to each other what they mean or are trying to say.
Because they perceive the world similarly, they understand the thought processes behind the verbal and non-verbal communication between them. They bond quickly and enjoy each other’s company immensely.
My three best lifelong friends and I all have the same Perceptual Style. When we get together the dialogue picks right up where it was before, as though we had never been apart. This is true even if it has been months or years between face-to-face visits.
So, where is the problem? First of all, being with them is so intense that I am worn out by visits and need time to be away and recover. Secondly, our discussions are stimulating but not in a debating manner. The enjoyment comes from sharing stories and resources we have gathered between times together, continuing ongoing conversations, and refining all the amazing and world-changing insights we have shared over the years! It’s great fun, enormously entertaining, and very validating.
The problem is that our perspective on things is often so similar that we reinforce each other’s views and don’t see what we are missing. I go to these friends for the experience of “yeah, I agree, now let me tell you a similar story, or add a new bit of information or insight.” I go to them for refinement of new ideas and do not expect them to reject my viewpoint out of hand.
This is the issue for two people with the same Perceptual Style in a romantic relationship. Couples with the same Perceptual Style often complain that while they love each other and enjoy each other’s company, they sometimes get bored. They feel supported, but they don’t feel pushed!
So, if you find yourself partnered with someone with the same Perceptual Style as you, you may both need to develop sources for challenge and debate outside the relationship.
Since We’re Neighbors, Let’s Be Friends
Every Perceptual Style has two neighboring Perceptual Style. Although each Perceptual Style has a unique perceptually based view of the world, there are similarities between neighbors. This neighbor combination seems to occur frequently, and we believe that it does because there is enough in common to feel connected and enough different to allow for creative tension.
On the surface, neighboring Perceptual Styles will appear to be similar, but conflicts arise when what appeared to be a similarity turns out to be a difference. The wife of a friend of mine is Flow and he is Activity. Both of them are fascinated by people, relationships, and emotional reality, but whereas he interacts directly and energetically, her interactions are calmer, more subdued, and subtler. She focuses more on community, while his focus is on individuals.
Neighboring Perceptual Styles will also use different words or approaches when the meaning they want to convey is the same. Conversely, neighboring Perceptual Styles will, at times, discover that they use the same word to mean different things. Both of these create conflicts of style. In the first, you find yourself arguing from different perspectives for the same thing. In the second, conflict arises because you each assume you know what the other is communicating when the meaning is different. This “similar but different” is often the greatest source of conflict for Perceptual Style neighbors.
So, if you and your partner have neighboring Perceptual Styles, you need to be prepared for these stylistic conflicts that will seemingly come out of nowhere and disrupt things. There is no ‘resolving’ these irritations because they are not about content but about differences in perception.
It’s like arguing about the meaning of a piece of art – there is no right answer because everyone sees and reacts to it differently.
However, knowing what they are and being aware of the signs, e.g., a seemingly silly argument that arises suddenly and throws you an emotional curve ball and then disappears or a sudden unexpected sense of disconnect, can sensitize you to catch them when they begin.
In my next blog post, I’ll share more about the other two categories – “Opposites Attract” and “I understand the words you are speaking, but I have no idea what you mean”.
Share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below.
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About Dr. Gary M. Jordan, Ph.D.
Gary Jordan, Ph.D., has over 27 years of experience in clinical psychology, behavioral assessment, individual development, and coaching. He earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology – Berkeley. He is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. He’s a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., a consulting firm that specializes in helping people discover their true skills and talents. For more information, visit https://www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.
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