Opposites Attract, But Similarities Bind
This topic is inspired by someone commenting on my previous post “The Law Of Attraction – You Attract What You Are”. In the comment, it is mentioned that “opposites attract more than what you are or what is similar to you.”
Now, I’m a strong believer in the Law of Attraction, but I can’t deny that opposites attract as well. However, for a relationship to stand strong through time, I do believe that people form friendships or relationships with people who hold the same core values, especially when it comes to relationships.
Most of us date a wide range of people in our lifetime, some of us for the short term and others for years. Finding the ideal partner can be both easy and difficult depending on a set of core values in people. For the majority of individuals, at least some of these relationships are special and changing, offering crucial life experience even if the relationship ultimately ends.
And often, when discussing dating history, people have this particularly strong memories of times when they were with someone who seemed like their polar opposite. This often presents some significant challenges and may prove to be unsustainable over the longer term, but it can also be an emotionally rich and educational choice.
But why is it that we often choose to fall in love with someone who can drive us completely insane as well as make us feel like we are in heaven?
Why Opposites Attract In Relationships
You may well have noticed this pattern of being drawn to those who are dramatically different in your own relationships, or observed it in the partner choices made by your friends, or even felt it in your friendly relationships.
Sometimes, there’s an intense type of chemistry between people who seem shallowly incompatible. And while there are great benefits to being with someone who is similar to you, there’s no denying that being with someone different can help you to grow in important ways as well.
However, when we explore the idea behind attraction, does it suggest that opposites do attract? Or, is this simply a false assumption that we make about romance?
Here are three reasons to think we may with some highlights of the most exciting benefits of being with someone different:
1. Challenging Each Other’s Values
By the time we’ve reached adulthood, many of us have developed a set of core values that become the foundation of our beliefs and how we live our lives. When we’re with people who are similar to us, we don’t tend to reflect on these values.
But when we make a connection with someone who is our opposite, we are suddenly encouraged to re-think the things that we previously took for granted. If we value this person’s judgment and respect their intellect, we start to question what we once simply assumed to be true. Do keep in mind that this clash of ideals can lead to conflicts and can make it difficult to decide how to live a shared life.
However, if you and your partner can push through this, you may emerge with more self-knowledge and an updated set of values that actually better suits your present self. At the very least, you’ll develop more understanding of other perspectives.
2. There’s More Newness For Both
There are certainly benefits to spending time with people who are similar to you, such as enjoying lots of the same things, easier to plan time together, and a reduced need for compromise. However, the downside is that you might just end up repeating the same habits and hobbies until a level of boredom, which can stop growth.
On the other hand, if you’re paired up with your opposite, they can often introduce you to new activities and new ways of being. This will require you to be open-minded, and when you do, you may end up going to places you’d never otherwise have visited. And who knows, you might even end up acquiring skills you never planned to develop.
Also, when seeking help or advice, it’s likely that you often reach out to people who intuitively understand you. So, many of these people will also be similar to you in certain ways. Though they know what you want and be able to shift into your perspective easily, they can’t offer you that much beyond your own thinking.
Seeking the advice of someone who differs from you affords you a chance to think completely differently, which is especially useful when you have used all your usual strategies and solutions. Having a partner different from you means direct access to someone who looks at your situation in a completely new way, offering thoughts and ideas that simply wouldn’t occur to you given the way you usually think and vice versa.
3. You Complement Each Other
The potential for complementary traits is another benefit of dating someone who seems like your opposite. It can help you to create a sense of balance, compensating for each other’s weak spots and highlighting what you both bring to the relationship.
For example, one might be shy and serious while the other is outgoing and funny. In this case, it’s easy to see how both partners view the other as ideal as in one’s strengths balancing out the other’s weaknesses.
Complementary traits can also provide deeper benefits. If you’re hopeful and you have a partner who is doubtful, you can make more realistic assessments and potential choices by putting both minds together. It may even be that you have complementary skill sets.
The question is really whether people actually seek out complementary partners or if that just happens in the movies.
Are You Sure That Opposites Attract?
Unfortunately, there’s no research showing that differences in personality, interests, education, upbringing, or other traits lead to greater attraction.
On the contrary, researchers found in one study that college students preferred descriptions of mates whose written bios were similar to themselves or their ideal self over those described as complementing themselves.
Besides that, there’s evidence that small differences between spouses can become larger over time. Psychologists Andrew Christensen, Brian Doss and Neil Jacobson describe in their self-help book “Reconcilable Differences” how partners move into roles that are complementary over time.
Here’s an example you might be familiar with: When one member of a couple is slightly more humorous than the other, the couple may settle in which one claims the role of “the funny one” while the other settles into the role of “the serious one.” Research has demonstrated that partners grow more complementary over time. They may begin as quite similar, they find ways to differentiate themselves by degree.
In the end, people persist in thinking opposites attract, when in reality, relatively similar partners just become a bit more complementary as time goes by.
- What do you think of opposites attract?
- What are your experiences with it?
- Do you have more insights to share with us?
Have your say in the comment section 🙂
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