©Arlene R. Taylor PhD
While lifetime best friends usually have a similar brain bent, life partners may possess differing brain lbents. (The brain bents of business partners may be similar or different based on conscious choice or availability.) According to Ned Herrmann, by and large, opposites do attract. That is, right brainers often partner with left brainers, and individuals with a frontal brain lead often partner with those who have a lead in the posterior lobes. Opposites may attract as each brain tries to select for wholeness (e.g., with differing brain leads opposites have more of the requisite brain functions “covered” by one or the other of the partners).
Having said that, outside of a brain that is severely damaged or even "evil," there may be no ideal partnering combination. There are differing risk-benefit combinations. That is, differing amounts of energy will be required to maintain the relationship. And it is acknowledged that attempting to partner successfully with a brain that is damaged or mentally ill may be difficult, if not impossible.
In life you usually give something up to get something. Failure to understand that principle, and/or blaming and criticizing yourself or others, accomplishes nothing of value. You can select a partner:
- With innate giftedness in divisions that are energy-exhausting for your brain and “cover more bases energy-efficiently” in your relationship; and then deal with the fact that your preferences are quite different
- With similar energy-advantages and then deal with the fact that you will both tend to find the same type of activities energy-exhausting; an figure out a way to accomplish these activities without dumping them primarily on one of the partners.
Understanding something about brain function can increase your awareness, help you to develop reasonable expectations, and allow you to make conscious informed choices. And you can choose to have fun on the journey. That’s not half bad!
Given that there is a large enough pool of individuals from which to select, following are examples of the way in which individuals may select a partner.
Males and females who are attracted primarily to individuals of the opposite gender (no one is believed to be 100% in terms of preference) and who have their energy advantage in this division may partner with someone whose brain lead aligns with the diagonal Harmonizing division). These individuals tend to be very directive in the relationship and carry (or assume responsibility for) the left-hemisphere or frontal functions.
If the partnering is due to the merging of two families to “keep the business in the family,” sometimes a FL will partner with a FL (at least the first time around). That tends to be more of a functional business partnering (as compared with a more typically romantic relationship) but it often works because both individuals are very goal oriented.
Males who are attracted primarily to individuals of the opposite gender and who have their energy advantage in this division may partner with a female whose brain lead aligns with the diagonal Maintaining division.
Females who are attracted primarily to individuals of the opposite gender sometimes follow this pattern, as well, especially in a first partnering, and choose a male with an energy advantage in the Maintaining division. This choice can become problematic if the female perceives that the male is stuck in a rut, too slow to embrace change, or lack spontaneity and loses sights of the beneficial qualities that can be exhibited. For his part, the male may perceive that the female is unstable, way too spontaneous in her choices, and jumps into situations without sufficient forethought.
Some females (sometimes initially and usually in a second partnering) choose to partner with another Envisioning male and develops a “best friends as well as partners” relationship. Or she may choose to partner with a male who has a brain lead in the Harmonizing division because she enjoys the nurturing, connecting, and encouraging that a male with this type of brain lead can provide (as long as she never compares him against characteristics of a goal-oriented hard-driving prioritizing male and becomes dissatisfied or tries to push her partner toward the Maintaining division to "take care of all the details").
My observations are that males who are attracted primarily to same-gender individuals (again, no one is believed to be 100% in terms of preference) may partner with an individual who either has an energy advantage in either the Envisioning or the Harmonizing division.
Males and females who are attracted primarily to individuals of the opposite gender and who have their energy advantage in this division may partner with individuals whose energy advantage aligns with the diagonal Envisioning division.
In a subsequent partnering, they may partner with a double right who has an energy advantage in the Harmonizing Division.
Males and females who are attracted primarily to individuals of the opposite gender may partner with an individual who has an energy advantage in the Prioritizing division. With their emphasis on nurturing, encouraging, and connecting in the relationship, these individuals (Harmonizing) often try to carry (or be responsible for) the Harmonizing division functions.
Males who are attracted primarily to individuals of the same gender may partner with a male who either has an energy advantage in either the Envisioning or Harmonizing division.
When Opposite Brain Leads Attract
When partnering for the first time, brains that are attracted primarily to individuals of the opposite gender typically select for wholeness, and tend to move toward individuals who have their innate energy-advantage in divisions that are energy-exhausting for you. It’s the philosophy that “together we have a whole brain.” Unfortunately, when partners expect each other’s brains to match or be very similar, the individuals can grow apart or even find themselves in crisis.
When Similar Brain Leads Attract
Sometimes a person consciously (or subconsciously) selects an individual who is similar in terms of brain lead. For example, females who have an energy advantage in the Envisioning Division may partner with a right brainer who has an energy advantage in either the Envisioning or the Harmonizing Division. The good news is that, due to similarity in thinking styles, partners can end up as best friends as well as partners. The down side is that both tend to dislike and procrastinate the same type of tasks.
When couples separate because of disparity between innate differences, they often repartner with another individual who has a brain pattern that resembles that of the first partner (with the exception of Envisioners). The external packaging may differ but the brain lead is often amazingly similar. Knowing this, it pays to evaluate one’s current relationship carefully. Some might be worth salvaging.
Ideally, it would be helpful to understand this information early in life and develop skills for collaborating successfully. It could reduce a human tendency to later become disparagingly critical of the very differences that initially were so attractive. Adapting can definitely have a positive or a negative impact on a relationship depending on how/why it is being used and the level of adapting. Genuine intimacy can be achieved only when both individuals are being real and living authentically.
Expectations for Task Completion
In our culture, the female in a typical cross-gender relationship is expected to pick up a good-sized portion of the responsibility for homemaking and parenting, especially in the more traditional models of breadwinner and homemaker. In addition, she is expected to handle the tasks that the male doesn’t enjoy doing. Depending on each person’s innate giftedness, the female may find that she is responsible for tasks that are energy-intensive for her brain. (And in single-parent families where one person is responsible for everything, the same principles of energy expenditure and fatigue apply whenever the required tasks don’t match the individual’s innate giftedness.)
When partners have similar brain leads, although this allows for being best friends as well as partners, the fatigue can actually be accelerated. For example, if both individuals are Envisioners, the female may be expected to complete tasks that utilize functions from the Maintaining division—for herself, her partner, and children, if they exist. These tasks are the most energy-exhausting for her brain as well as for that of her partner. Over time her fatigue can lead to exhaustion, discouragement, and dissatisfaction with the relationship. She may even attribute her fatigue to her partner when, in fact, it may have far more to do with the way in which she is utilizing her brain. Regardless of the thinking-style mix in the relationship or family, if the female tries to be all things to all people, over the long haul her brain will fatigue. Potential for relationship problems can escalate.
Same-gender partners may be more likely to have similar brain bents. Unless both individuals understand the activities that tend to exhaust their brains, one partner will likely end up trying to complete (or feel expected to be responsible for) energy-exhaustive tasks. Over time as the brain becomes fatigued the relationship can fall apart, with one or both partners certain that it has to do with the other individual’s dysfunction, or irritating habits, or lack of commitment, or differing expectations. While any or all of those may be true, in reality, it likely has more to do with how each is using his/her brain.
Again, the bad news is that in our culture one of the partners (often the individual carrying responsibility for the more stereotypical female-type activities) is expected to perform the tasks that the other individual doesn’t enjoy doing. Over time, this can serve to sabotage the relationship. Both individuals would do well to engage in the task-evaluation process and take responsibility for dividing energy-intensive tasks between them as equally as possible.
In your relationship do you feel like you are continually struggling to scale Mt. Everest with few rest stops and no end in sight, or are you loping along through the hills and valleys of life with plenty of energy? Living authentically, understanding brain function, and negotiating tasks with a partner from a position of knowledge, can make all the difference in the world!
Ask, how much energy does it require to develop and/or maintain this partnership? Some relationships will require higher levels of energy-expenditures and, thus, be more exhausting and less rewarding to maintain over time.
In order to maintain a thriving relationship it is critical to identify activities that are energy-exhaustive for each individual. It’s also important to identify expectations (conscious or subconscious) for completion of those tasks. Otherwise one individual may end up completing(or perceive an expectation to complete) the tasks and activities that neither partner enjoys and that both find very energy-exhaustive. Over time this pattern can lead to procrastination, partial completion of tasks, serious relationship problems, and discouragement or depression.
When brain bents are similar or derive from adjacent divisions of the cerebrum, it can be helpful to compile a list of all the tasks that both partners believe must be completed in order for the relationship to be successful. Highlight tasks that are energy-exhausting for each person. Create three columns on a separate sheet of paper (see below).
Tasks To Ignore
Tasks to Hire Out or Trade
Tasks to Divide Equally
Does the task have to be done at all? Can both partners be comfortable without having this task done?
If yes, list the task in this column and stop doing it. Now!
Can the task be hired out or traded?
If yes, list the task in this column and find someone to hire or with whom to trade. And do it in a timely manner!
Can the task be turned into a joint effortgame? If not, divide must-do tasks equally between partners in order to prevent brain drain.
Take responsibility for completing your own tasks!
Task-evaluation is usually an ongoing process. Human beings are notorious for falling back into old habits of expectation and accountability. To enhance the potential for a successful partnership, each individual must accept personal responsibility and accountability for completing assigned tasks. The relationship can be sabotaged through procrastination or by gradually picking up the other person’s assigned tasks.
In terms of identification of brain lead by using the BTSA, all males in same-gender relationships have shown an innate brain lead in either the Frontal Right Lobe or in the Right Posterior Lobes. None have shown an innate brain lead in either division of the left hemisphere.
Insufficient numbers of BTSAs have been completed for the brains of same-gender female partners to be able to draw clear conclusions. With the BTSAs that have been completed, it appears that sometimes opposites attract as a Frontal Left brain lead may partner with a brain lead in the right posterior lobes. Again, the Frontal Right brain lead may partner with an opposite (lead in the left posterior lobes) but may be more likely to partner with another frontal.