Do Opposites attract?

24 Oct

We've all heard of the saying 'opposites attract', but to what extent is it true?

In 1988 Paula Abdul released the hit single “Opposites Attract”.

Baby seems we never ever agree
You like the movies
And I like T.V.
I take thing serious
And you take ’em light
I go to bed early
And I party all night
Our friends are sayin’
We ain’t gonna last
Cuz I move slowly
And baby I’m fast

I like it quiet
And I love to shout
But when we get together
It just all works out

I take–2 steps forward
I take–2 steps back
We come together
Cuz opposites attract
Interestingly according to scientists the idea that opposites attract is a myth and that people are really only attracted to those who hold the same views and values as themselves. If you try to impress other people with attributes that are not honestly and naturally your own, then sooner or later the real you will appear. It’s a tendency that when we meet people for the first time that we automatically seek common ground and avoid conflict. We want people to like us, so our instinct takes us down the route of trying to be similar.

But are we really similar that’s the question. Physical attraction may preclude reality and often relationships fail at the first hurdle because fundamentally you are not on the same wave length in respect to your true found values and belief system. Infatuation can also override your system and lead to short term fireworks that simply fizzle out over time.

Researchers from Wellesley and the University of Kansas surveyed more than 1500 random pairs of couples, friends and acquaintances to evaluate their values, prejudices, attitudes and personality traits. The question being posed was “do people in longer relationships have more in common?” Interestingly it emerged that all pairings of any substance or longevity held similar life views. It was the comparable values and belief systems that made them connect when they had only just met.

Studies further revealed that there was virtually no change in beliefs over time, suggesting those who go into a relationship hoping to change the opinions of the other person, are unlikely to be successful. It was noted that “Change is difficult and unlikely; it’s easier to select people who are compatible with your needs and goals from the beginning”.

Is it possible that if we expose ourselves to other points of view and life experiences that our values and beliefs could actually change? They can indeed, as we have seen with the widening acceptance of gay relationships and lifestyle as evidence in mainstream entertainment. 25 or 30 years ago people were not exposed to these ideas and consequently it felt alien. Young people today in the Western world generally have a much more liberal or matter of fact view of these ideas. Time and circumstances can reveal that perhaps our views are not as rigid as we once imagined.

With that in mind could we perhaps be open to something new in somebody? Could we be more open minded and allow ourselves to entertain the idea of new viewpoints, values or beliefs. Relationships must be designed to accommodate and acquiesce from time to time. Our viewpoint cannot be the only one, and remain so forever or we may even find ourselves alone and isolated in our opinion.

Opposites may indeed ultimately attract, but not in the sense we may assume. With that in mind, a professional and experienced matchmaker will look for commonality as you have to have some ground to stand on. But in time, could you bend with the wind and embrace the tide of change, and in doing so let someone really valuable, kind, loving, gentle and beautiful into our lives?

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by Rachel Vida MacLynn

Founder & CEO

Rachel Vida MacLynn is reputed as being a world-leading matchmaking and dating expert. Registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, Rachel advocates a professional matchmaking approach based on psychological principles and professional consultation. Rachel also sits on the Board of Advisors for the Matchmaking Institute.More by this author