Huh? Remind Me Of the Definitions
- Complimentary: Expressing praise or flattering.
- Complementary: Completing or combining in a way to enhance individual qualities.
If you remember back to geometry, I’m sure your math teacher told you that two angles were called complementary when they summed to a right angle. The angles completed each other, and together they combined to an angle that enhanced their individual qualities. Too much? Sorry, I loved geometry…
Relationships Often Start Off ComplImentary…
- “You’re so beautiful/handsome”
- “I’m so amazed at your intelligence”
- “You’re so funny I’ll get abs of steel from laughing this much!”
And there’s nothing wrong with being complimentary. Even when you’ve been with someone for more than ten years (that’s right Mr PoP – it’s been a decade!), it’s still nice to hear the occasional sweet nothing.
But if being complimentary is all you’ve got, what’s going to happen when you hit the skids? Here’s a lovely hypothetical interaction between a complimentary couple, I1 and I2.
I1 – Oh no! We have no money left in the checking account.
I2 – That’s okay, you’re so beautiful/smart/witty that I’m sure you can figure it out.
On the surface it seems fine, right? But the thing is, it’s not really a productive interaction for this hypothetical couple.
I1 brings up a problem that is clearly viewed to be shared (“we have no money”), and I2 pushes the problem solely onto I1 with the compliment. If the compliment leaves the other person feeling flattered yet frustrated, then it’s not really having the desired effect, is it?
What Does A ComplEmentary Relationship Look Like?
Quite simply, your weaknesses are the other partner’s strengths and vice versa. That’s not to say that you can’t both have overlapping strengths, but rather that overlapping weaknesses can be a dangerous combination. So what does a complementary relationship look like for the PoPs?
See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Smell No Evil?
Mr. PoP is colorblind, yet has an amazing sense of smell. I on the other hand can see the entirety of ROYGBIV, yet have an awful sense of smell. These complementary strengths and weaknesses mean that when we’re together, I can prevent Mr. PoP from eating moldy pasta because I can see the mold, and Mr. PoP can prevent me from drinking spoiled milk because I can’t tell it’s bad. Alone, we have both consumed bad products because we couldn’t tell they were spoiled and paid the price with a sore tummy, but together we prevent that.
It’s a silly example, but you get the picture.
ComplEments In Financial Matters
In financial matters, Mr PoP tends to be the one who can come up with big dreams and goals and investment ideas. I’m not good at that. Creativity and dreaming were just never my thing. It’s not that those dreams don’t sound amazing, it’s just not how my brain works. I’m very literal and tend to focus on what’s in front of me.
But what I am good at doing is running the numbers and seeing what investment projections we might be working with, checking the feasability of dreams, and plotting a course to get there. This part doesn’t come naturally to Mr. PoP the way it does for me, and though he is sufficiently awed when I open up an Excel spreadsheet and can work out a page full of projections within the span of a few minutes, he doesn’t have the passion for the numbers to want to learn how to do that in the same way.
So by complementing each others’ skill sets, we actually make a much better team than we do working independently. It’s one of those times that 1+1 > 2.
A complementary partner is going to make life easier, its a part of how to make a good couple, and in the end that’s probably going to make life happier than a whole boat load of compliments. Right? I know Mr. PoP and I aren’t unique in complementing each other, so let’s celebrate these complements today!
How do you and your partner complement one another? And for single readers, what type of a complement do you look for in a partner?