Finding True Love

Dear Readers,

Happy Valentine’s Day!

In the spirit of the day, I am reposting a letter from last year that really sums up how useful knowledge of the Five Elements can be when looking for true and lasting love. Enjoy!

Vicki

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Dear Vicki: I want to be married and in love, but I’ve been divorced three times. Even though I was so sure I’d found true love with each guy, the relationships didn’t last. My first husband and I married young – we were only 19 – but we were in love and wanted the same thing: a home and family. Or so I thought. He left me for his flashy young secretary who was a better fit as he climbed the corporate ladder. Husband #2, a college professor, left to accept a fellowship to study primitive tribes in Africa. And Husband #3 is an artist who found his muse in the woman who runs a local gallery. They live together in a loft now. I honestly thought each of these men was my true love, a person I could grow old with. But now, at 37, I’m wondering how to find the right guy. All I want is a happy home and family. Signed: Unmarried in Marengo

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Dear Unmarried: It sounds like you’ve had quite an experience relating to different kinds of guys. I’m so sorry your marriages haven’t worked out, but I do think there is a Five Elements explanation as to why. Let’s take a look at your primary elemental personality and the personalities of your three husbands to see what we can learn so that marriage #4, whenever it happens, is a wild success.

Based on your overwhelming desire for a happy home and family, I think it’s safe to say that you are a primary Earth personality. Home and family are very high on their list of priorities. The resiliency you’ve shown and hope you continue to hold out for a lasting marriage suggests that you might have Water as your secondary personality. Bless you on staying positive. But be mindful to keep yourself balanced because too much Earth (desire for a relationship) and Water (trust that everything will be perfect) together can create a lot of mud, which usually lacks clarity and focus. And these are important to have when entering into a relationship. Information about the person and their personality tendencies is important, too, but selecting a life partner isn’t as simple as finding a “positive” elemental match.

The Five Elements model shows us that all of the elements can get along well with each other if they try. This means you can “pick” whomever you fall in love with, but then make sure you take the time to determine their elemental personality so you can understand what their priorities will be in life and relationship. I also suggest that you help them understand what your priorities are as an Earth personality. Too often we tend to trust “love” as being all we need. And while it’s extremely important, I also believe that we need understanding and acceptance if any relationship is to go the distance. So in the name of that understanding, let’s take a look at what might have unfolded at an elemental level in each of your previous marriages.

Based on your letter, it appears that you have been married to a Wood person, a Metal person, and a Water person, in that order. Technically, your first marriage had every chance of working. Even though Earth and Wood relate on the Controlling Cycle, an Earth wife and Wood husband recreate what was considered the “perfect” marriage in the 1950s. The Wood person’s desire for success and accomplishment provided the financial means to support the Earth person’s desire for a home and family. There’s no way to know exactly why your first marriage failed, but perhaps your husband’s secondary personality got in the way. He clearly didn’t have a secondary Earth personality or the two of you would probably still be together. Instead, his desire to climb the corporate ladder and have someone a bit flashier at his side suggests that Fire might have been his secondary. If so, your secondary Water personality would have been problematic for his secondary Fire (Water controls Fire); there were probably times he felt like you rained on his parade. But Earth people value loyalty and he clearly was not able to give you that, so the bottom line is that it wasn’t a good match.

Your second husband was probably a Metal person given his desire to move halfway around the planet all alone to study a chosen topic. Metal people tend to be loners who will go the distance (sometimes literally) in search of knowledge. And even though the two of you related on the Nurturing Cycle (Earth feeds Metal), it was your energy feeding him. I wonder if there were times you felt he drained you. That can sometimes happen with an Earth/Metal relationship since Earth people want to give and Metal people often feel they deserve the attention. It’s unlikely that Husband #2 had Earth as a secondary personality either since it wasn’t difficult for him to leave the relationship for his chosen work in Africa. Instead, I suspect he had Water as a secondary, another loner element. But more importantly, Earth and Water relate on the Controlling Cycle, so even though Earth’s version of control is very gentle, it can still feel “containing” to Water, which wants to go with the flow no matter where the flow goes.

Interestingly, your third husband was also probably a primary Water personality; creativity and imagination sit in the Water element. Your Earth personality could have felt supportive and stabilizing to him, but it also might have felt slightly controlling, especially if your Earth was out of balance. It’s likely you desperately wanted this third marriage to work, so could have tried harder to please him than necessary, or wise. Too much Earth energy usually feels cloying and restrictive to Water people. Also, artists often find their “muse” in someone radically different from them. In this case, I suspect his muse was a Fire person, the yang to his yin, the light to his dark. This opposing energy could hold them together, or they might tire of the differences and separate. But if this happens, please don’t go back with him; he has clearly proven he is not the right person for you.

Instead, try to hang around people who are Earth or Fire personalities. Another Earth person will value home and family as much as you do. In fact, two Earth people together usually live for home and family. But they need to be careful to stay balanced and not give everything to the other person or they risk falling into co-dependency. However, should you fall in love with an Earth, if you stay balanced and present with each other, you will probably feel like you have finally found heaven.

Fire is another element that could work well for you. Fire people like connections just as much as Earth people do, and since Fire feeds Earth on the Nurturing Cycle, you will feel seen and appreciated in an Earth/Fire connection. You will also have a great deal of fun. That said, most Fire people don’t value long term connections as much as Earth people do, nor do they like to stay home as much as Earth people tend to. But if you are up for having parties at home and going out a lot, you could find a relationship with a Fire person to be enjoyable and satisfying. Especially if that Fire has Earth as a secondary.

The truth is that you will probably find lasting happiness in a relationship with anyone who has Earth as a primary or strong secondary personality. To meet Earth people, get out and do the things you enjoy because other Earth people will enjoy them, too! You might try a series of cooking classes or perhaps a course on home decorating. If you aren’t doing this already, I encourage you to volunteer for causes that matter to you because many of the people there will also have Earth personalities. And let your friends know you’re interested in dating teachers, people in the healthcare field, and social workers. These are all areas often filled by Earth personalities. Most importantly, give it time and be yourself. Your Earth personality will attract someone who values what you value, I promise. I wish you all the best and may cupid find you soon!

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Her Husband is Ignoring Her

Dear Vicki: I’m married to a workaholic! Jason goes to work early, stays late, takes calls on weekends, and is forever checking his cell phone. We’ve been married for 10 years and during that time he’s done well in his law firm. But now he’s obsessed with becoming a partner, so all he cares about are his numbers, referrals, and keeping a high profile. When I mention quitting my secretarial job to start a family, which he knows matters a lot to me, he says it just isn’t the right time for him yet. That may be, but this isn’t just about him. My biological clock is ticking and I’m worried I’m running out of time. This whole thing is exhausting. What can I do to get back the loving and attentive Jason I married before he went to law school? Signed: Alone in LA

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Dear Alone: The short answer to your question is that you will probably never “get back” the Jason you knew in college. Time takes us forward into new experiences and these experiences change our views, priorities, and goals. Hopefully, your relationship with Jason is strong enough to morph with these shifts. It’s likely you knew Jason wanted a career in law before you married him, but perhaps you were unaware of what that might entail. And even if you were, the reality of life with an attorney may not be all you’d hoped. So let’s see if there are ways we can help you adjust, adapt, and possibly even feel better.

The fact that Jason is an attorney suggests that he is probably a primary Metal personality. Metal people are excellent with detail, hierarchy, and protocol, all of which are very important in the practice of law. However, his strong drive (even need) to make partner in his firm suggests that he also has a lot of Wood energy in his personality. The self-esteem so important for most Wood people usually comes from doing a brilliant job and succeeding. And within the structure of a law firm, the young attorneys who bill the most hours – meaning they work the most hours – usually get the best reviews and the promotions. Jason is being true to his combination of Metal and Wood personalities: he is playing by the rules of the game to get ahead.

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Who Do You Think You Are?

Dear Readers: Happy 2019! I hope it’s a year of happiness, joy, and excellent relationships for you all!

Today marks the beginning of a new feature here at the Ask Vicki blog. Lately, many of the letters and inquiries I receive are from people who not only want to understand the Five Elements spin on their relationship problems, but also want to explore more about their individual elemental personality. It’s an important request, and I think the best way to do that is to understand each of the elemental personalities and see where you fit in.

Remember that we all have all of the Five Elements in our personality make-up, but we have a special affinity for one of them. You can think of this elemental affinity as a lens through which we view the world. It’s as though at birth we’re assigned to a secret club – so secret that no one tells us we belong – and we spend our life thinking, acting, and seeing the world as a member of that club.

Our priorities and tendencies in life are based on our club membership. When we enter into a relationship with someone from a different club, which is very common, the relationship becomes a predictable dance between the two clubs. But to understand this dance with another person, you need to know your club membership, if you will, and the club membership of the person you are relating to. And that’s where many of you have asked for help.

So beginning today, once or twice a month I will offer an up-close comparison of the five elemental personalities based on specific issues like What Matters, Personal Expressions, Structure and Boundaries, Strengths and Weaknesses, Socialization Tendencies, Relationship FocusStress Tendencies, Likely Professions, Primary Focus, Favorite Question, and something I like to call Elemental Truths. I’m sure you will begin to recognize yourself – and the people you relate to – in these comparisons. So let’s get started with two of my favorites!

  1. What Really Matters to Each Elemental Personality

What Matters to Water Personalities: Deep Issues

People who hang out in the Water Club view life through the filter of depth. Profound issues matter to Waters, who often seem obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge, truth, and meaning. Waters are interested in art, philosophy, and religion, but won’t care about the surface aspects of these pursuits. Instead, they’ll focus on the underlying meaning of it all.

What Matters to Wood Personalities: Accomplishment

People who hang out in the Wood Club value accomplishment and success. Good at decision-making and planning, Woods can see what needs to be done and rally the troops to do it (or go it alone through hard work). We all need Wood energy if we’re going to accomplish anything, but members of the Wood club need accomplishment to feel successful.

What Matters to Fire Personalities: Connections

We all need Fire energy at times because we all need relationships. The push to connect begins in Fire, and while these connections usually aren’t long-term for Fires, they need the charge they get from spontaneous connections to feel alive. Without connections, life becomes pale and gray for a Fire.

What Matters to Earth Personalities: Relationships

People who hang out in the Earth Club value long-term relationships. The spontaneous connections forged in Fire slowly find emotional depth and reinforcement in Earth. It has been said that Earth makes order out of the Fire relationships that last. Earths excel at making people feel safe and loved.

What Matters to Metal Personalities: Knowledge

People who hang out in the Metal Club value knowledge. They sit at the end of the Five Elements cycle so are better equipped than other elements to harvest what has been learned this time through, whether over the span of a week, a year, or a lifetime. We all use Metal energy to learn and discern, but Metals thrive on synthesizing knowledge and wisdom into understanding.

  1. Favorite Question of Each Elemental Personality (short and sweet, but deep to ponder)

Water: Why?

Wood: When?

Fire: Where?

Earth: Who?

Metal: How?

I hope these comparisons begin to provide a bit more clarity regarding your primary elemental personality and also the primary elemental personalities of the people in your life. And remember, we all have all five elements in our personalities, so even if your favorite question is “When?” making you a member of the Wood Club, it doesn’t mean you won’t visit the Water Club now and then to ask “Why?” That’s the fun of life! Blessings to you all!

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Does Everyone Lie These Days?

Dear Vicki: This is probably a rhetorical question – I doubt that you can really answer it – but what happened to telling the truth? At work, my boss “fudges” numbers to make things look better to his investors. A friend recently said she couldn’t help me paint my bathroom because she had to work late, but another friend saw her that evening laughing it up with a guy at a bar. Even my sister lied to me. She said she loved the blouse I gave her, yet as far as I can tell she hasn’t worn it once. And let’s not even discuss what’s happening politically these days. It is very wrong to tell a lie, so when did it became so acceptable? And why? Is there something the Five Elements model has to say about this? Signed: Still Honest in Hanover

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Dear Still Honest: I have to say that I agree with you – as a nation we seem willing to accept dishonesty more easily lately. I also agree that we are not going to discuss political issues here, other than to acknowledge that the people in positions of leadership do affect social norms. What we can cover is why the people in your life might be lying and why it’s affecting you the way it is. Basically, the fact that your response to lying is so strong suggests that you probably have a primary Metal personality, or at least must be acting from that place at this time. Metal people can be very absolute in their ideas of what is right and what is wrong. Coloring inside the lines, so to speak, matters a great deal to them. And the reason for this can be found in the Five Elements model.

The element of Metal sits at the end of the cycle, which means it sees the whole of the cycle and can determine what worked, what didn’t work, and what is of great enough value to be taken forward into the next cycle. From that perspective – from their focus on the past – it’s easy to understand why Metal personalities believe that know what is right, or even best and important, and what isn’t. Further, they often believe that if we know what works really well, we shouldn’t ever want to do anything differently. This is an example of the black and white thinking of a Metal person. Truth is important, so lying is never acceptable. But not everyone is a Metal, and the other elemental personalities each have their own relationship with the concept of lying. Let’s take a quick look.

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He’s Giving Her the Cold Shoulder

Dear VickiI started dating a guy last spring and we connected immediately. Jack is a super outgoing guy who does voice over work and is lots of fun to be around. We laughed and had tons of fun all summer. It was perfect and seemed to get better and better, so I thought he might be the one. But as winter rolled in, it seems like he’s drifting away. We did a few things around the holidays, but now he says he’s really busy and will call later, but he never does. I’m really busy too – I’ve just started a career as a nurse – but I still have time to reach out to him. When I do, he says he’ll get back to me, but nothing. It’s rude of him, I know, but I really loved being with him. What did I do that drove him away, and what if he never comes back? Signed, Nervous in New York

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Dear Nervous in New York: I am so sorry you find yourself in this difficult situation. It’s never easy to be in a relationship that is changing in a way that you don’t want, so let’s take a look at what might be going on between you and Jack. As a nurse, it seems very likely that you are a primary Earth personality. The caring and desire to do for others that nurses embody is characteristic of the Earth personality. As for Jack, the intensity with which you connected last spring, as well as his occupation as a voice over actor, suggest that he is probably a primary Fire personality. Intensity, especially around relationships, is not uncommon with Fire people, and most forms of acting usually come naturally to them.

In the Five Elements model, Fire and Earth relate on what is called the Nurturing Cycle, with Fire feeding Earth. That would explain why the relationship felt so good to you. It probably even felt natural to Jack for a time. In nature, an earthen hearth is a very comfortable container for Fire’s energy, at least in the beginning. So what’s going on now?

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