I was sitting in my office talking to Sandi about my friends Rodney and Evonne, who are getting married in September. When I refer to the few people I still speak to in college, I fall into the pattern of defining them by their majors, as is that indicates some consistencies about their personalities. Evonne and Rodney were both honors students, both English majors (as I was), and both tutors along with me in a peer program at our college. We had a lot in common
. But when I describe them to Sandi, I say that Evonne was an English major who loves journalism and Rodney was an double major in English and History (which he was) who is into computers.
"So, they compliment each other well, then." Sandi crossed her legs and spoke flatly as if we were in agreement. "They'll never get bored with each other, that's for sure."
For some reason, I'd been brought up to believe that complimenting your SO meant being almost a polar opposite, that if I believed myself to be creatively led (in my writing, perhaps) then I'd be best matched with someone who was more scientifically led. You couldn't have picked a better polar opposite than my ex, who was a Psycho-Biology major and computer whiz. I was the emotion, he was the reason, and it was almost as though we had been given scripts to read from that barred us from bridging the gap that divided the two hemispheres of our shared existence. He was the breadwinner, I was the homemaker, and in the end neither of us liked the roles we were playing and finally threw out the script and the play altogether. Someone told me once that the odds of an action or circumstance continuing to happen were always greater than the odds of it stopping or changing, and I think could have been said for our relationship. It was always easier to put up with it than end it. For a while anyway.
An aside: I have learned, as I set out on my own journey with computers and the internet, that they are not necessarily polar to creativity and emotional expression. They are more a hybrid, I think, with the technical jargon being the groundwork for the creativity, the wire structure under a carved work of art.
I thought that I had had some past failures that proved that I was still to search for a polar opposite. The other creative types I got tangled up in were too creative and not sensible at all. They were the poor starving artists who could never commit but needed to crash at my house or bum money from me. They were men who seemed to still be looking for a mommy figure, something I had been already and didn't want again but yet still found myself playing from time to time.
So I am back to wondering what it means to be complimentary in a relationship, since it is a phrase we all have used when dreaming up the person we want to be with but who has not yet materialized: I want someone who compliments me. Is it one of those things where you can't define why it works, you just know that it does? Is it something you discover after the fact when you're in the kitchen with some friends from out of town and your SO walks through just to kiss you on the neck while you're stir frying vegetables, then leaves the room so you girls can talk? Is it something other people would say about the two of you as an outsider?
I think it's something you might say to yourself or to your friends when embarking on a new relationship, something you say more because you hope it will come true than you know it already has. I try to avoid thinking of how someone would compliment me, because that seems too self-centered. And trying to see how I would compliment someone else just seems to complicated because of how I over analyze things about myself with regard to others. I have met men who I regarded as almost male versions of myself, who have almost identical thought patterns and euphemisms, and I have met men who were so opposite to me that it was hard to connect on any level because we had so little in common.
So the best way I could define it would be this. If I say or do something that inspires him to do something that he may not have thought of, that would be one way. When you can show each other new things or discover new things together and have a shared appreciation for them, even in different ways. When you can tear apart a movie you just saw together and come out of it with something besides your own reaction. And maybe when you have no specific reason to find them and talk to them if only just to be around them, that they provide something you're looking for, something you need that only they can give, which is really just themselves.