Dear Vicki: I feel silly writing, but I’m having trouble with my boyfriend Wilson. We met at college last fall and in spite of the fact that he’s a quiet, serious guy, we hit it off. Even though I usually hate the cold, we had a lot of fun last winter ice skating, throwing snowballs, and drinking hot cocoa while we talked late into the night. But he started getting moody in the spring and no matter what I tried, he wouldn’t cheer up. Now, in the middle of this glorious summer, he’s grumpy and doesn’t want to do any fun things outside anymore. The beach is too hot. The tennis courts are too hot. Everything is too hot! And he doesn’t like my friends. I love summer, love the fun of outdoor parties and connecting with people, and can’t imagine why he’s complaining. From what little I’ve read about the Five Elements, I think I’m an Earth because connecting with people matters to me. Is this relationship doomed? Please let me know so I can find someone else to have fun with the rest of the summer. Signed: Loves the Sun
Dear Loves the Sun: No relationship is ever doomed as long as you understand each other and are willing to put a little effort into meeting each other’s needs. It’s also important to understand yourself, so let’s start there.
You could be an Earth; connections certainly matter to Earths. But they want deep, lasting connections and will work hard to keep them, no matter what. You don’t sound like you’re in a space to do that. However, there is another element that values connections, and that’s Fire. Fires tend toward quick and fun connections rather than looking for something that will stand the test of time. Fires also enjoy being busy, usually appreciate summer activities, and often don’t do well with cold weather. Honestly, this sounds a lot like you, so I suspect you’re a primary Fire, not Earth.
On the other hand, Wilson sounds like he could be a Water. They enjoy winter more than most and are usually much less enthralled with hot weather activities. And while Waters usually tend to be loners, when love strikes, they will connect on a one-to-one basis. Noisy gatherings aren’t their thing, but quiet time alone with someone special works. No one is better at talking late into the night than Waters, especially if the topic involves philosophy or esoteric ideas. Because winter is Water’s season, the approach of spring sometimes makes them uncomfortable as they are moved away from their comfort zone. And summer? It’s way outside that comfort zone! Remember how much you normally hate winter? As a Water, Wilson will feel pretty much the same way about summer.
This means that seasonally and socially, you and Wilson are exact opposites. You’re also opposite at a very basic energetic level. Water represents winter’s full yin energy, which is the tendency to pull completely into one’s self and live a quiet life there. Summer is Fire’s full yang energy, so they will do just the opposite: Live a lively life engaged with the outside world. It’s a very different approach, isn’t it?
Another important factor affecting your relationship is that Water and Fire relate to each other on the Controlling Cycle (Water douses Fire). From a Five Elements perspective, this means there will be a tendency for Wilson’s Water to put out your Fire. But in spite of everything we’ve said here, this still doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. That’s because something very special can happen in Water/Fire relationships.
Most Waters never know the excitement of the bright, outer world; they just aren’t wired to seek it out. But when they find it through a connection with a Fire, as Wilson has done with you, they get a glimpse of an exotic world that can be very compelling. The same is true for Fires: Waters offer them a glimpse of the cool, calm inner world that usually isn’t accessible to Fires because of their wiring. The saying that opposites attract is exactly what can happen in Water/Fire relationships. Much as the north and south poles of a magnet are hard to separate, the connection between a Water and a Fire can be very strong. However, once you get past that initial attraction, it takes understanding and patience to keep things together. It also takes commitment, and only you can decide if the relationship matters enough to you to put in the effort.
If you decide to work on your relationship with Wilson, compromise and creativity will be your best friends. Water’s like time alone, Fires believe the more, the merrier. But as you saw in the beginning of your relationship, you can strike a balance between the two of you using your seasons as a guide. In winter, Wilson’s Water tendencies will be at their peak (winter builds Water energy) and your Fire tendencies will be at a low ebb (Water energy lessens Fire). This means winter will be a good time for the two of you to do winter things: cuddle inside, have deep discussions over cocoa, listen to music, and read. And while Wilson will be in heaven, your Fire will still need some activity and socialization, and that needs to be okay with Wilson.
In summer, your Fire will peak (summer builds Fire energy) and Wilson’s Water will be at a low point (summer depletes Water energy). With less Water energy, Wilson might be slightly more willing to be social, but as you have seen, he isn’t going to magically become a Fire. The best compromise for the two of you in the summer could be attending select social events together, but then being okay if he has alone time or hangs out with a small group of friends while you play tennis with your friends or have a fun girl’s night out.
The bottom line is that if you are willing to be creative, understanding, and flexible, a Water/Fire relationship can provide the best of both worlds. You can be the warmth of the sun for him on a cold winter’s day. He can be the refreshing cool water for you on a hot summer’s day. And it can be one of the most lasting relationships around. Good luck!