Today, I want to touch upon a very interesting classification of personalities in a relationship as presented by the Imago Relationship Therapy. To do that, let me tell you about the love story of the Minimizer and the Maximizer. You may be wondering what these terms mean and what have they got to do with relationships? You will find out in a minute!
Okay, let’s imagine a scene playing out in front of our eyes. You see a couple sitting on the couch and just chilling. One of them in a very animated fashion says, “Hey I have good news to share! Can I tell you what it is?”
Even without the other person responding, they say, “I got a promotion today!! We can finally take the vacation we have been dreaming of.”
To this, the other person responds, “Oh! Great, good for you!” The response was lukewarm and somewhat of a dampener. As you would think, the partner sharing the news was furious as she expected more enthusiasm, animation and support which according to her were absent from the response she got.
This is an example to show how partners in a relationship can react differently to a given situation. The one who is more emotionally connected, expressive and seems more into the relationship is the one who plays the role of the ‘Maximizer’ otherwise also known as the pursuer.
On the other hand, the one who seems passive, introverted, reluctant to share their true feelings is the ‘Minimizer’ or the one being pursued.
Nothing is wrong with either one, it is just how individuals are. And, recognizing this difference in personalities to reach a common ground for communication is the key for couples looking for a long, healthy relationship.
More often than not, the Maximizer of the relationship feels the person on the other side is less evolved and not as involved in the relationship as they are. The Minimizer on the other hand feels as though their personal space is evaded and they are pressured for a response when they are not really in the headspace to give one.
Such contrasting personalities can often lock horns leading to resentment and frustration slowly building up in the relationship. So, how does one navigate such differences? It is not easy as it takes a conscious effort to first realize the existence of differences and then tackle them with care and caution.
You can begin by allotting time after mutual agreement on when to discuss important issues. For this, the one who is eager to communicate (the Maximizer) must understand that just because they are ready to talk or vent does not mean, the other person (the Minimizer) is ready to listen and respond.
He or she may take time to process the information when shared at the right time so patience is key. If you are the Maximizer in the relationship and you want to have a conversation with your partner, extend them the courtesy to check and see if they are willing and ready for a conversation. If not, set a time that works out for both of you.
This will take time, practice and lots of patience. Also, learn to exercise the thought that your partner’s unwillingness to respond at the time you want them to is NOT indicative of their dismissal of your feelings, it is just not the right time for them. Nothing to do with YOU, everything to do with how THEY are feeling then.
If you are the Minimizer, you have to learn to exercise the thought that if your partner is in a rush for a response, it is not because he or she is trying to push you into a corner, it is just that they are feeling unsafe at that moment perceiving a threat to the relationship and want you to reassure them that everything is going to be ok.
Couples grow with time and that is a testament to the love and affection they share for each other. That does not mean their love won’t be tested. It will and surprisingly so by their individualities. But the sooner they learn they are different, the faster they will come to terms with the differences to explore a middle ground which will help nurture their relationship and guide it in the right direction.