A few months back, I did a series on the temperaments talking about what they are and how they can be affected and changed. One thing that wasn’t discussed in that series is the implications these temperaments can have on the way we relate to others.
Classically temperaments are going to be either hot or cold and wet or dry. Typically, the hotter and wetter a person’s temperament is, the easier it is for that individual to relate to others, these two qualities are the active and connecting principles, and you need both if you’re going to make friends. This is seen most clearly in the sanguine (hot/wet) temperament who gets along well with everyone fairly easily. A step down from this would be the phelgmatic temperament (cold/wet), who isn’t as active at meeting people or making friends, but keeps them around for a long time if they do connect. In contrast to this are the dry temperaments of choler and melancholy, people with these temperaments are more difficult to connect with as choler typically doesn’t like meeting new people and melancholy doesn’t want to be anywhere near others.
In relationships, this can play out either very well or very awkwardly depending on the predominate temperaments the partners have. A partnership between two sanguines is likely to be to both parties’ enjoyment. They are coming from a similar place and have similar familiarities and natural strengths, so they will likely do a lot of activities together. Even partnerships involving two melancholics will have togetherness, but not in the sense of going and doing things, but just staying in and being with one another.
Some issues can arise when those temperaments introduce conflicting qualities. As long as there are qualities in common, things can still run smoothly. A choleric/sanguine pairing is still likely to have a lot of fun together, both like to go out and do things, but there will need to be some compromise over how much those activities involve being around other people. Something similar can be said about the other pairings with sanguine/phelgmatic like to be around others, but disagree about the amount of adventuring that that should imply and melancholic/choleric both not minding keeping to themselves and having some time apart.
The biggest issues arise when the temperaments are completely opposite one another. Choleric/Phelgmatic and Sanguine/Melancholic relationships can have major stumbling blocks. The pairs can end up not spending enough time together as a result of interests and habits pulling them in completely different directions. Some people don’t necessarily mind this, but many have difficulty with their significant other just not cooperating or trying to force them to do particular things that they aren’t comfortable with. The jet-setting, adventurous sanguine just isn’t going to understand that the homebody, solitary melancholic doesn’t want to go out to dinner again, and the melancholic isn’t going to understand the sanguine’s depression over being stuck inside again.
Opposites don’t always attract, and the results can be pretty difficult to work with, however, a healthy does of compromise and compassion can give any relationship a better chance at success.