Do Opposites Really Attract?

I’ll have to be honest here and say yes they do. This is the only reason it is even acceptable as a theme in romantic comedies and romance novels. There is research, from the psychological to the biological to the social, to bear out the theory. Women are attracted by the smell of men with a different gene pool than theirs. High-strung people want a partner who will act as a calming influence on their tempers and even the bad boy wants a nice girl to take home to mama. Analogies are given with the north and south poles of a magnet and the reason more people are heterosexual. Yeah, opposites do attract but for how long?

You see, differences creates an initial attraction – one person has traits that the other doesn't or vice versa and for some people, this is exciting; in other words, attractive. So in the right circumstances, these two people will get together. They believe they are in love. During the honeymoon phase of the relationship, they may be able to work around their differences – read, they don’t sweat the small stuff - but what about the long term? Let’s look at some examples; one’s a vegetarian, the other loves beef, one’s introverted and the other an extrovert, one loves football and the other hates all things sports; or an extreme one where one is a frugal control freak and the other an impulsive spend thrift. Just imagine two such people in a marriage with maybe one or two children. I can’t see it, lol.

I know by now, some of you are thinking in your head about those your friends or relatives who have been dating or married for donkey years and who are polar opposites. Hold your horses please. Let us consider this very well. Remember ‘birds of the same feather flock together’, or ‘show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are’? These sayings are referring usually to a person’s beliefs, the substance that makes the personality. And this is the key to any relationship; our values. It doesn’t matter what we see on the outside, differences in looks, activities, likes and dislikes, most people who appear to be opposites actually share a similar way of looking at life. Though they may show this perspective in differing ways, the things they hold dear and what they value are the same.

Like I said earlier, relationships with opposites usually start off quickly and well. This is because they are largely based on sexual attraction or simply lust. However, these feelings are short-lived and in the long run, may not be enough to make a relationship work. The mismatch between opposites is more obvious in the long term because personality and attitude traits often come out later, as a relationship progresses out of the initial stages. The effort necessary to resolve differences means that emotional cracks normal in most relationships deepen more easily. The people who become too involved too quickly before they realize these differences will usually begin to feel unfulfilled and look for a way out.

 The fact is that most people will only remain happy and at peace together when their basic life values agree. If the couple don’t want or need the same things, and have different values and beliefs, that relationship may be bound for failure. Some will argue that being opposites can work when differences are given less importance and both people are open-minded, and have the ability to compromise and communicate. But how many of us have this ability and how many will go the long haul? It is very few of us are that are saints or martyrs, so it is not surprising that most times, real differences create conflict and eventually lead to the bitter breakup of opposites in a romantic relationship.

So this is my final answer to our question. Opposites may attract but they rarely stay together in long term relationships. Yes, opposites may attract during times of high sexual tension, like in dating, courtship and the early months of a marriage. However, opposites will certainly clash when it comes to differing personality traits, attitudes and values, especially in the long term.

Myne Whitman is a pen name. She has lived in Nigeria and the UK and now lives with her husband in Bellevue, Washington. Quiet and romantic Myne volunteers as an ESL tutor for a local charity and also writes full-time. Her book, A Heart to Mend, is on AMAZON and in bookstores. She can be found on Facebook (/Myne.Whitman) and Twitter (@Myne_Whitman).

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