Opposites attract. Joined opposites lead to the balance of the whole.
One relationship pattern that is apparently present in every couple dynamic is, in Imago therapy terms, called maximizer and minimizer relationship.
Maximizers are in general more extroverted and socially outgoing while minimizers are more passive and do not initiate social contact. In a relationships maximizer initiates and insists on intense emotional connection and the minimizer is the one who withdraws and needs personal space. A maximizer is the person who makes a lot of noise when they want something. A minimizer is the person who kind of shuts down and goes away when they want something.
“The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from correspondingly great tensions between opposites.”
Our maximizing or minimizing style can vary depending on the person we are in relationship with (it can happen that we are minimizer in one and maximizer in other relationship).
We adopt our coping style from our parents who probably also demonstrated this dynamic and we choose one of the styles as our dominant and we have internalize the other as our recessive style. Thus beneath every minimizer is repressed maximizer and vice versa.
Knowledge of the minimizer/maximizer dynamic in a conscious relationship is useful in understanding the root of our conflict with our partners. Understanding of this dynamic leads to accepting and meeting mutual needs; needy wife can overcome her fear of abandonment to allow her partner more independence and distant husband can overcome his fear of smothering and can be more affectionate.
Once we learn to feel emotionally safe with each other, we can grow and become increasingly authentic with ourselves and with each other.
Are you a minimizer or a maximizer? Below is the list of attributes that can help you to find out.
- Explode feelings outward
- Exaggerate feelings
- Depend on others
- Mostly exaggerate needs
- Are compulsively open
- Are excessively generous
- Ask direction of others
- Think mainly of others
- Act impulsively
- Implode feelings inward
- Diminish feelings
- Deny dependency
- Mostly deny their needs
- Share little of inner world
- Withhold feelings, thoughts, behaviors
- Take direction from themselves
- Think mainly about themselves
- Act and think compulsively