What Is An Interlocking Attraction

Based on the Pattern System™, an interlocking attraction involves being attracted to someone because their way of relating meshes with yours, in that it matches how you expect people to relate to you based on your interpersonal patterns.

For example, if you have a Controlling Pattern, which involves expecting to be in charge of your relationship and run the show, you will be attracted to people who have a People-Pleasing Pattern because they will comply with your desire to be in control and will try to please you.

An interlocking attraction isn’t necessarily a problem. If your way of relating is relatively healthy and you are attracted to people whose style fits with yours in a healthy way, this will work out well. For example, if, instead of being Controlling, you have the Assertiveness Capacity, you can take charge when needed and can also cooperate with others or even be receptive when that is called for. This is because your Assertiveness Capacity isn’t driven by underlying fears. As a result, you can stand up for yourself and exert power, but you don’t have a need to always win out.

The Controlling Pattern is a problematic version of the Assertiveness Capacity. Or you could say that the Assertiveness Capacity is a healthy version of the Controlling Pattern. So if you are attracted to someone who has a capacity that interlocks with a capacity of yours, this will probably work out well. If you are Assertive and are attracted to a Cooperator, this is promising.

Interlocking Attractions

A Cooperative person can work together with people easily and naturally, but they don’t have a need to give to others or please them. This interlocking attraction will work out well because the two of you won’t get stuck in your preferred way of relating, and you will be able to learn from each other’s strengths. You won’t get stuck in always having to assert your will, and you will be able to learn from your partner’s ability to cooperate.

However, if you are Controlling and are attracted to a Pleaser, this will probably lead to trouble. At first, things will go well because you are each getting what you want and expect from the other. However, after being involved with each other for months or years, there will probably be difficulties. When the hidden problem with your partner (and yourself) becomes more apparent, the very quality that drew you to your partner will become the reason for serious conflict in your relationship.

Let’s look at how this might happen. If you have a Controlling Pattern, you may be very happy with a People-Pleaser at first because they seem to want everything that you want; they seem to think and feel the same as you do. However, over time things will change. You may begin to realize that your partner doesn’t really agree with you but is just going along with you. You may start to yearn for someone with a backbone who has opinions and desires of their own. You may get annoyed at your partner for being so compliant with other people. You may long for a partner who has some spark, who is their own person, not just a doormat.

The same interlocking attraction often goes in the other direction. People-Pleasers are often attracted to Controllers because they don’t really let themselves know what they want. They prefer a partner who is strong, in charge, and knows what to do, so the Controller can take the lead and make the Pleaser’s life work.

This has been an excerpt from my book The Pattern System.