Birds of a feather flock together, or is it that we go together because opposites attract?
Why is it that we tend to think that opposites attract when it comes to love, when research shows us that we fall in love because they’re just like us?
And the answer is, it’s complicated.
Recently two psychologists took a look at all the data that has been collected in over 240 studies to determine whether similarity in terms of attitudes, personality traits, outside interests, values and other characteristics leads to attraction. What they found was an inarguable association between being similar to and being interested in the other person.
Take the results in one study, where researchers found that college students preferred descriptions of mates whose written bios were similar to themselves or their ideal self. They wanted someone who was as outgoing as they were rather than someone who was more of a homebody and complemented their outgoing nature.
Despite all of this evidence, 86 per cent of us still admit to looking for a partner with opposite traits..
Despite the overwhelming evidence, we’re human and a lot more complex than theory, so there are probably a few factors at work here. Even if the partners are similar in so many ways, they end up arguing about the ways in which they are different.
Here’s the tricky part. We may find ourselves attracted to people who are similar to us, however there’s evidence that small differences between spouses can become larger over time. While we begin alike, we look for ways to become different over time.
Woah. Wait. What was the point of all that searching then…?
That’s because it’s important to have defining factors in our character that makes us, well, us. When we are in a monogamous relationship for a long period of time, the lines can become blurred of where we end and our partner begins, making separation tricky. Having differences can be healthy as it helps couples define their identity within the relationship.
All relationships follow a pattern of separateness and togetherness, it’s the in-breath and out-breath of a relationship. When we are too similar over a long period of time it can feel suffocating. That’s because our relationship isn’t allowed to have the “out-breath” or the separateness.
We also tend to grow as people and where we grow in some areas our partners may end up staying the same causing friction. It’s in these circumstances that we need to figure out how we’re going to negotiate our differences.
The things that attract us in the beginning are nice, but what keeps us together in the end are completely different to attraction. It’s about how well we can related to others and learning to listen properly and give priority to our partners and their needs.
If you’re feeling the dull ache of similarity in your relationship, or you’re afraid that you’re just “too different” don’t be afraid to try my Intimacy Bootcamp. This is a great 6 week relationship hack course! It’s the right amount of tools to get you back to feeling lucky that you’ve met.