Dear Vicki: I’ve been dating an artist for three months and we’re good together in many ways. Obviously, he’s creative, but he’s also very mellow and not overly fussy. We have great discussions and he takes my opinions seriously. That’s a refreshing change for me because, as the newest member of a marketing team at work, no pays attention to me; it’s really frustrating. I’m trying to get ahead, but can’t get things done. Anyway, I like Craig a lot, but there is one thing about him that’s hard to take. If he says he’ll call on Monday, he might not call until Wednesday. Or if he’s supposed to pick me up at 6:00, sometimes he doesn’t show up until 7:00. This makes me angry. How can I get Craig to change without spoiling what we have? Signed, Angry in Annapolis
Dear Annapolis: You don’t mention your element or Craig’s, but they are pretty easy to guess. If you’re frustrated at work by the fact that no one is acknowledging you and you aren’t getting ahead, that’s rather typically Wood. And Craig, as a mellow artist who loves discussions, is pretty stereotypical Water. So you are talking about how to make a Water/Wood relationship work.
The good news is that Water and Wood relate on the Nurturing Cycle, so your connection can have a supporting, nurturing vibe. It can feel especially supportive for you since Craig’s Water is feeding your Wood. And as long as Craig stays a balanced mellow guy, that will continue to feel wonderful. But if he gets in a deeply inspired place where he has gallons of Water flowing, you may need to back away for a while since too much Water can rot your Wood.
The situation you have now, however, isn’t really a matter of too much or too little Water or Wood. What’s at the heart of your issue is the fact that Woods and Waters interact with the future in very different ways. For a Water, the future is pure potential. It isn’t something that needs shaping or deciding; it’s something to ponder as it unfolds with the flow of life. Waters are inspired, imaginative people; they aren’t planners. For a Wood, however, the future is all about plans, and the expectations that come with those plans. A Wood finds it difficult to think about the future without creating an idea of what should, could, or will unfold.
The bottom line is that, as a Wood, you are making a definitive plan when Craig says he will call or show up at a certain time. But for a Water, what you think of as plans are really more like guidelines; they are suggested possibilities of what could happen, but certainly not written in stone.
If you appreciate Craig and want to continue a relationship with him, I suggest you come to terms with the reality that he probably isn’t going to conform to your Wood expectations. Yes, there will be times when he will need to be on time – there may be a specific dinner reservation or concert – and you can help him understand the consequences of missing those events. But the rest of the time, I encourage you to embrace the differences between you and Craig and allow him to be his mellow self. That is, after all, something you really like about him.
Of course, if he becomes too mellow and goes with the flow too much, you always have the option of explaining to him that you need a little more structure in a relationship. It might be possible for him to become a little more structured, too, especially if he wants to stay with you. In truth, that’s what happens in most relationships: hopefully we all appreciate the areas that are easy to like about each other and make compromises around the differences. And who knows? If you manage things well with Craig, the flow of his Water may feed you to the point that your Wood becomes more productive at work. Good luck!