Many years ago I read a book by Helen Fisher called Why Him, Why Her. This very clever woman created a questionnaire which allows you to determine if you are a Director or a Negotiator (one category) and if you are an Explorer or a Builder (the other). These “types” are all based on scientific evidence. As in brain research. You know, the study of neuro-somethings and chemical-something-elses. Okay, let’s establish right here and now that science was never really my forte.
The Explorer expresses traits primarily linked with the dopamine system.
The Builder expresses traits primarily linked with the serotonin system.
The Director expresses traits primarily linked with the testosterone system.
The Negotiator expresses traits primarily linked with the estrogen system.
Naturally, we all demonstrate aspects of ALL of the above but, much like the Love Languages that Gary Chapman identified, we all have “signature” traits that ultimately define who we are and what mate will be best suited to us.
What’s interesting here, though, is that “like” does not necessarily equal “like”. For instance, if you are a Builder, someone who likes to nest, create calm, stay put, harmonious and somehow storm-less, you will not abide well with an Explorer. By very definition we Explorers (yes, I am one) crave adventure. Excitement. Change. Even danger, peril and potential jeopardy. We want all of that and then some and we are usually willing to risk boat-loads to get it. Not that Builder, though. That Builder is content to stay home, you know, building. The slow, methodical (often quite successful) way. Getting things done. At home. Without much risk. Serenity being the goal, and all.
But then we get to Directors and Negotiators. Those Directors are “Get it done!” kind of people. Linear thinkers. Go for the goal and damn the torpedoes! Leaders of men and doers of great deeds! Nothing gets in the way of a confirmed Director. They are take-charge soldiers. Now, that’s not to say that they are only take-charge soldiers, lacking depth or soul or heart or any of those other human attributes than some of us find fetching. It just means they’ve got it (whatever it is) figured out and they are now going to achieve it. Whatever it is.
Then there are The Negotiators. My people. We’re not so much concerned with getting there than we are with how are we going to get there and how is everybody going to feel when we get there and what can I do on the way to make sure that everybody is feeling as good as they possibly can and by the way, how exactly are YOU feeling at this moment reading all of this?
Yep. We are the emotional care-givers of the world. The ones who move this and shift that and give up a bit of this so that a bit of that will have more room to flourish and we do this every single day. Gladly. We negotiate our path through life with perhaps a more pliable set of regulations because we understand that every encounter is just another negotiation. And if we can figure it out with diplomacy and understanding, WE can solve the problems of the world!
Yes, we are that awesome. Or so we think.
But … can you imagine two Negotiators together? Or two Directors, for that matter. The Directors would be fighting constantly for supremacy and the Negotiators would be locked in endless arbitration. Stalemate.
When I was married, everybody thought we were a fabulous match. Sure, we were different (me = outgoing, he = reserved) but still, a great match. Except for this:
My ex is a Director and I am a Negotiator. Yay us!
My ex is a Builder. And I am an Explorer.
And when Dopamine challenges Serotonin guess who is staying awake tonight, churning and imploding? Serotonin never stands a chance.
I think we all choose our mates for a million different reasons. Lifestyle. History. Sex appeal. Sense of humour. Timing. Even opposites attracting.
Maybe now we know why opposites attract? On some levels, there has to be common ground. But common ground can never be enough if one of you wants to plant trees and the other wants to explore The Himalaya. Hey, if one of you wants to win the Nobel Prize and the other wants to take care of her girlfriends, it might just fly. But I can assure you, if the Explorer starts getting antsy and the Builder just keeps planting trees (nothing wrong with that, by the way), it’s never going to work. Not in the long run.
If you want to take the test – find it here: Helen Fisher’s Personality Test – The Anatomy Of Love
It won’t take too long and is well worth the effort.
My beloved just did it. When we got together everyone said it wouldn’t last. They all said it was a classic case of “opposites attracting”.
Turns out he is a Director/Explorer. I am a Negotiator/Explorer. We are truly opposite. And yet … the same.
There is hope. And now we know why.