That’s the term experts use for the trickiest romantic attraction: When an emotionally giving person pairs up with someone who holds back emotionally. Like when someone who enjoys a lot of hugging and kissing dates someone who thinks that’s “too much PDA!” – because they’re not comfortable showing affection in public.
Dr. Amir Levine is a psychiatrist who says dating your “emotional opposite” is tricky because over time, they can bring out the worst in you. That’s because one person’s need for affection may cause them to push too hard, causing the other to pull away, until it seems like they can’t stand each other. He says in order for an emotionally opposite relationship to work, both partners first have to realize that these behaviors are learned at a young age. In fact, research shows that you can tell if a baby will become emotionally “giving” or “reserved” as an adult just by watching how they react when their mom leaves the room. Because if a baby shrieks and cries, it means they’re used to being held and kissed all the time.
But if a baby can relax until Mom comes back, it means they’re used to less affection. Dr. Amir says the key is for both partners to manage their expectations, by telling each other exactly what they need emotionally. For example, it’s okay to say: “I know it’s hard for you to hug me in front of my friends, but at home, I really need a hug every day.”
Dr. Amir says the only time you should be worried about your relationship is if your partner avoids spending time with you, or if they always threaten to leave when things go wrong. Because research shows that type of behavior tends to spell doom for relationships.