Relationship Check: Do Opposites Really Attract?

You know the old adage "opposites attract?" It's such a commonly-held belief that Paula Abdul once wrote a song about it. (Although, to be honest, Paula Abdul isn't exactly known for much now beyond acting wasted on American Idol).

Well, I have to (respectfully) disagree with Miss Abdul. I don't actually believe opposites attract, even if that song kicks ass.

Here's why.


Most people claim to want a partner who is unlike them; someone who has interests in things beyond what they do, so that they can keep the spark alive in a relationship.

In reality, though, several studies have confirmed that people tend to opt for partners who complement them, whose personalities are like theirs, whose traits (extroversion, openness, agreeableness) are like their own. People tend to want a partner whose belief system resembles theirs.


People who think alike and share the same core values tend to validate one another, which leads to less arguing and fighting.

Oddly, though, the same studies showed that people still held the belief that they wanted a partner who had opposite traits. Probably because it is a part of popular culture to believe that we can only date people who are dissimilar to us. In truth, relationships whose partners have opposite traits tend to fail, and rather quickly.

It's only in the movies that you see a Hollywood Hunk marry his waitress or nobility falling for the peasant. In reality, an educated person tends to marry another educated person. Most people choose a mate who is similar in terms of attractiveness. People who have money tend to date those who also have money. Those who share the same religious views are more likely to date.

So while we may continue to think that we should be with people who are unlike us, we will continue to gravitate toward those who are more like us than we may even realize.

Sorry, Miss Abdul. It turns out that opposites DO movies.

What do you think? Do opposites attract?


Image via airwaves1/Flickr

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