This is about my early morning thoughts on individuality or individual differences. I like reading about personality traits, how to understand people in general, what makes one different from another, and other stuff. Psychology is one of my interests but I am far from being a psychologist.
This morning, I had the chance to ponder on how individuality or individual differences play an important role in a relationship. How can a relationship grow and flourish despite the couple’s differences on choices, perceptions, beliefs, characters, and principles they live by. True, that at one point or another the couple has to have other common grounds aside from love. For example, they may have different likes on sports, fashion, stand on politics, food preferences, and values. It doesn’t mean that if one likes spicy food the other has to like it too. If one likes black clothing, the other one doesn’t have to wear black clothes as often too. Little things and minor stuff but can also be applied to bigger issues like politics, principles, and moral standards.
According to J.M.Williamson (2018), “individual differences are the more-or-less enduring characteristics that distinguish one person from another and thus help to define each person’s individuality.” The differences are shaped by education, culture, environment, beliefs, and experiences. There are different ways to assess or evaluate individual differences such as extraversion-introversion, agreeableness-disagreeableness, conscientiousness-disorganized, openness-closed-minded, and neurotism-emotional stability. If you want to know about these stuff, you can find it here.
Going back, these are a few things to remember in managing individual differences in relationships:
- Communication. It is very important to talk about the things you are passionate about, the things you like or prefer, how you want to be treated, what you dislike, and other stuff. This is number 1 on this list, but I have to admit, this is what I am struggling in most of the time. I think it is important to find a way to communicate nicely, that is without having to argue or fight over little things. Arguments are inevitable but it is possible to discuss issues properly and one issue at a time.
- Respect. It is inevitable to disagree sometimes and to have differing views on things. Let’s not push our beliefs and likes. We have to know our own boundaries too. For example, it is okay for a partner to talk about domestic issues with close friends but it is not okay with the other we have to respect that and know the extent of information we can share with people we trust.
- Acceptance. Let’s try to understand where they are coming from. We don’t have to agree on everything but it helps in avoiding arguments if we accept people for who they are. There is no perfect relationship and nobody is perfect either. Acceptance starts by acknowledging our own flaws and by understanding our partner’s flaws and shortcomings too. Researches have shown that solving differences are easier when partners feel accepted.
- A common ground. We may have differing opinions and such but there is always something people can agree on. Meet halfway, I think that’s how to put it. Look for things that both parties or sides can compromise, agree on, and can be happy about.
Relationships, in general, require hard work and conscious effort. Having individual differences don’t mean that things will not work anymore. Whenever I find myself in such situations, I try to remind myself of the four (4) key factors I have mentioned earlier. I am not trying to say, though, that it is easy all the time.