Is it a myth that opposites attract?

Do opposites attract? It seems to be a subject of great debate with plenty of articles dedicated to examining both sides of the argument.  

Lots of people believe in the notion of a couple being compatible because they have nothing in common and wildly different tastes. The old adage that “opposites attract” refers to a long-standing belief that polar opposites often spark a romantic attraction. But is it true? 

According to the Guardian, recent research found partners were often remarkably similar when it comes to the traits they share. The study found between 82% and 89% of traits examined were similar among partners, with only 3% ranking as substantially different. The areas where people tend to be similar were wide ranging and included their religious views, levels of education, political leanings, some measures of IQ and how likely a person was to drink or smoke. 

How similar you are to a partner may have some bearing on whether the relationship goes on to be long-lasting. The Daily Mail cited an analysis of eHarmony’s Compatibility Matching System that found similarity was the key to making a relationship last, even though opposites may be attracted to each other at first. The article points out that dating somebody who is very different to you may seem attractive at first, but eventually tensions show as the differences come between a couple. While differences may seem exciting and intriguing in the honeymoon phase of a relationship, they can soon turn into obstacles and disagreements. There’s even stronger evidence that opposites don’t attract when you consider a review of 313 studies with more than 35,000 participants found that similarity was a strong predictor of attraction in early stages of a relationship. 

An article in Women’s Health points out that many people aren’t actually dating their opposites, even though it might initially seem that way. The piece points out how you may appear to be different to your partner in many ways when it comes to your tastes, but you’re probably more alike than you realise. The concept of opposites attracting may have endured purely because people don’t realise the person they are with isn’t as different to them as they might have first believed. While you may love spicy food while a partner despises it, or you both have totally different tastes in film and music, you may find you are more similar than you expect when it comes to the bigger things like values, communication styles, temperaments, and attitudes. People who may seem like opposites on the face of it could in fact have similar core values.

The tools we use to find people may also play a part in connecting us with people who are similar personality types. As the BBC points out, the online networks and sites many of us use to find friends and dates are nudging us towards people who may think similarly to us.  There are even dating apps that cater for people with specific views. The article also points out that there is evidence that opposites repel, especially when it comes to values and views. 

There’s nothing wrong with having different tastes though, with a recent survey finding more than 70% believe having different interests can lead to more diverse and enriching conversations. There’s no need to be alike in all areas, with many couples having totally different taste in clothes, food, TV, and the like. It can keep things interesting to be introduced to new habits and activities, however, deep down it is likely you are more alike than you’d expect at face value.

All relationships evolve and, and this article on Medium points out, a couple may begin as quite similar but find ways to differentiate themselves. Couples can develop complementary roles, such as one half of the partnership being the “funny one” while the other is the “serious one”. It does not mean the pair are opposites, but they are indeed becoming more complementary within the relationship

It’s an interesting debate and we’d love to hear your views on the matter. Share your thoughts over on Facebook and Instagram! 

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