Do opposites really attract?


graphic by Elah Abbott

Kylie McLeland, Staff Writer

“Opposites attract” –  a common idiom used to describe why a romantic relationship works so well. We hear this phrase regularly, but let’s think about it. Wouldn’t it make more sense to be with somebody who shares the same characteristics? Is there an extent to how opposite the people in the relationship are? The whole concept is very complex and has many exceptions. The advice you hear from ‘experienced’ people is contradicting. So is it true, do opposites attract?

If you stop and think about it, we are inundated with this concept. The classic teen trope: a jock unexpectedly falls in love with the nerdy and quiet girl. This example was probably used in a dozen movies you’ve seen, or even in books you’ve read. In many cases, this could potentially happen, but how realistic is it that a relationship will work between two people who barely have anything in common? The truth is, yes, in some ways we do find ourselves longing for somebody different than us. Qualities that you find lacking in your personality are usually the characteristics you want to see in somebody else. For example, if you are a pessimistic person, dating an optimistic person is something new to you, and opens up a whole new mindset. Seeing people that have different traits is often new and exciting. Another popular representation we see is a very outgoing person paired with somebody who is more reserved. 

Scientists have actually found that we are more likely to be attracted to those who remind us of ourselves. Though, dating an exact replica of yourself is probably not a good idea either. For example, people with the same life goals are more likely to last long term and not solely rely on the excitement of the new relationship. Sharing the same opinions on children, religion, and travel are just some of the major ideas that could be important for partners to share. How important these topics are depends on the people in the relationship, what their morals are, and how flexible they are. 

In reality, sayings such as “opposites attract” are not ones to live by. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter how similar or different your partner is, it all comes down to personal preference and how mature you can be within your relationship. Relationships are all about compromise and strength, not about stereotypes.