Dear Vicki: I’ve been dating an artist for three months and we’re really good together in many ways. Obviously, Craig’s creative, but he’s also very mellow and not overly fussy. We have great discussions and he takes my opinions seriously, which is a refreshing change. I’m having trouble getting people at work to take my suggestions seriously. It’s really frustrating; like I’m talking, but they don’t hear me, so I’m not getting ahead quickly. Anyway, I like Craig a lot, but there is something about him that’s really 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 pm, sometimes he doesn’t show up until 7:00 pm. This makes me angry. How can I get Craig to change without spoiling what we have? Signed, Angry in Annapolis
Dear Angry in Annapolis: It’s encouraging that you and Craig are doing so well given how very different your tendencies are. You like punctuality, he’s more go with the flow, and both of these can be traced back to your primary elemental personalities. So, let’s take a look at what those might be.
You’re frustrated at work by the fact that no one acknowledges you and you aren’t getting ahead quickly. This is really typical of a primary Wood personality. And Craig, as a mellow artist who loves discussions, seems to be pretty stereotypically a primary Water personality. As you have discovered, there are some pretty significant differences between these two elemental personalities, as well as definite issues associated with each.
The good news is that Water and Wood relate to each other on the Nurturing Cycle of the Five Elements model. This means your connection can have a supporting, nurturing vibe. It probably feels especially supportive for you since it’s Craig’s Water energy that is feeding your Wood energy on that Nurturing Cycle. And as long as Craig stays a balanced mellow Water 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 energy can rot your Wood.
The situation you have now, however, isn’t really a matter of too much or too little Water or Wood energy. I believe what’s at the heart of your issue is the fact that Wood people and Water people interact with the future in very different ways. For a Water person, 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. Water personalities are inspired, imaginative people; in no way are they planners. However, for a Wood personality the future is all about plans and the expectations that come with those plans. A Wood person often finds it difficult to consider the future without developing opinions of what should, could, or ought to unfold.
The bottom line is that, as a Wood personality, in your mind you and Craig are making definitive plans when he says he will call or show up at a certain time. But to a Water personality, what you think of as plans are really more like guidelines. They are suggested possibilities of what could happen, yet are rarely written in stone. This is an important distinction that you might want to discuss with Craig at an appropriate time.
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 personality expectations all the time Yes, there will be times when he will need to be on time – there may be a specific dinner reservation or concert start time – 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 enjoy about him.
Of course, if he starts going with the flow too much, you always have the option of explaining to him that you need some things to be a little more definite in the relationship. Depending on his secondary elemental personality, it could be possible for him to embrace a little more structure every now and then, especially if he wants to stay together. That’s usually what happens when relationships work: we appreciate the areas that are easy to like about each other and make compromises around the differences.
And who knows? If things continue to work out well with Craig, you could find that a little bit of “go with the flow” energy might actually be good for you. It can raise your own Water energy which will help you present your ideas at work a bit more creatively and could facilitate you finally being heard. I’m holding that possibility for you!