The (un)romantic theory that opposites attract
By SIMONE YU
Throughout social media, novels and movies, opposites attract in relationships. And who would disagree?
When we find someone completely different from ourselves the experience is new and exciting; curiosity naturally lures us into who might be our “other half.” However, what happens after the curiosity fades?
The truth is simple: after the initial attraction, you are left with an incompatible partner and crumbling relationship. The misconception that opposites attract has led our society to believe that our “soulmate” is the complete opposite of us when, in reality, people are not magnets; we are simply not attracted to those who do not share the same values and beliefs as us.
To start, a strong relationship forms when two individuals can share their common experiences and interests with each other. Take, for example, two people who are both outgoing and share the same taste in music, arts, literature and humor. As the pair continue to deepen their relationship with these common interests, attraction increases because they can connect with each other on another level. They are—rather than two hypothetically opposite puzzle pieces that “complete each other”— two pieces that fit neatly together as a complete picture.
On the other hand, two partners cannot engage in natural conversation if one individual likes sports and the other the latest fashion trends. After a series of personal sacrifices to connect with the other individual with opposite interests, bitterness and resentment accumulate that will start to cover up their affection for each other, and the “chemistry” and “sparks” in the relationship are eventually gone in a snap.
In fact, since the 1950s, social scientists have conducted over 240 studies to determine whether a similarity or similarities in terms of attitudes, personality traits, outside interests, values and other characteristics can lead to definite attraction between two people. In 2013, psychologists Matthew Montoya and Robert Horton examined the combined results of the studies and concluded that couples with more similarities with each other have a much higher chance of staying together in the future.
On the other hand, a “reasonable and considerate” couple may take time to appreciate and adapt to each other’s interests. A man may grit his teeth to go shopping with his partner and a woman could kindly watch the basketball games on TV that her partner loves so much, but isn’t this all worth it to maintain a “healthy” relationship? Isn’t making constant compromises, adjustments and sacrifices a fundamental part of a loving relationship?
When we dig deeper, such a “considerate and loving” relationship is a mere burden and may only result in constant unhappiness. As individuals spend precious time pretending to be someone else for their partner, they will stray further from a life that fits with their interests and personality. No matter how much you love the other person, it is a lose-lose situation.
In the long run, the initial attraction that pulls us into our opposite self can be tempting, but it only lasts so long. As cliche as it sounds, you need a person who can finish your sentences and make you smile.
It is about time for society to stop revolving reality around two opposites who fall in love and acknowledge the truth that a true relationship is about two equals who not only love each other, but cultivate each other’s interests throughout their lives.