Ever wonder why some couples that appear to be totally mismatched are together? The beautiful woman and the homely man? The genius scientist and the Plain Jane? The controlling shrew and the mild-mannered husband? The successful movie star and her low-profile boyfriend? Or perhaps, others have wondered why you and your partner are together?
What I’m here to say, is that if you’re in a long-term relationship with your partner, than regardless of external appearances, you are at the same level of emotional maturity and availability! One technical term for this would be “matched differentiation.”
I tell the couples that I work with that “water seeks its own level.” What this means is that we are drawn to someone who is at the same level of emotional maturity. Regardless of what it appears to be on the surface or to others, and regardless of what our egos believe, we are equals.
Differentiation is a psychological term that addresses how a person separates their intellectual and emotional functioning from dependency upon the people around them. Someone with high differentiation is able to make their own decisions that are true to themselves without being unduly swayed by the responses and reactions of others. They recognize that we need others yet we don’t have to depend upon the acceptance and approval of others.
So the concept of matched differentiation states that we are drawn to others who are at similar states of differentiation. If this were not true, why would we really be with our partner or they with us? We may be attracted to someone who is not close to our level of differentiation, but most of the time, this connection will not lead to a long-lasting, committed relationship.
This is consistent with my previous article about the maximizer and minimizer concepts. Generally in relationships, one partner is the maximizer, who externalizes their energy, is usually more outgoing, more sociable, and more aggressive. The other partner is usually the minimizer, who internalizes their energy and is more inwardly directed, more reserved, more introverted.
The maximizer and the minimizer, while presenting in two different ways externally, are still emotionally at the same level of maturity. They are at the same matched differentiation. That’s why they are together and that’s why they have so much to learn from each other! Does this make sense to you?
I would love to hear your stories about this concept of “water seeking its own level” and matched differentiation. Please email me or comment below what your thoughts and experiences of this are. And please, share this article with those that you feel would benefit from it on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
Thanks so much,
Dr. Adam Sheck
If you’re interested in more of my thoughts about relationships and creating passion and purpose, please download my Free Special Reports, “20 Rituals For Romance!” and “The Secret To Owning Your Mission!” by subscribing to the Passion Doctor Newsletter at the top of this page.