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Do Opposites Attract?

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It is a common belief that opposites are especially attracted to each other as they can complement the other – both as a friend and lover. As the founder of The Love Intelligence Method (5 Keys to Find Love), I often wonder if being compatible is the necessary basis of a relationship, or if it leads to boredom in a relationship? Do similar people tend to get together? Or do opposites attract?

Short-Term, Opposites Can Be Attracted…

“Difficulty” is one of the ingredients of attraction. The more we have the impression that we must overcome some difficult challenge to find love, the greater love seems. Differences between partners can definitely spice up a relationship. It makes a great fantasy: many of us have dreamt of a beautiful relationship with someone completely different to us. We envision someone who can make us feel complete, and compensate for our weaknesses.

Long-Term May Be a Different Story

The reality is, however, we prefer people like ourselves. Being alike is a sign of compatibility in relationships.

Whether consciously or not, having concrete commonalities is one of the first things we look for in a couple. This is what Jean-Claude Kauffman called “homophily.” Long term, it takes precedence over the pull towards those who complement us.

Having similar personality traits is not only a good indicator of initial attraction, but it is also a sign of good marital stability and happiness. The same is true of our attitudes and values: the more someone’s attitudes are identical to ours (like our political views for example), the more we tend to appreciate or love this person.

Introvert vs. Extrovert

A bit like Sherlock Holmes and Watson, the introvert and the extrovert are attracted to each other because they complete one another: the extrovert motivates and takes initiative, whereas the introvert brings peace and self control. As long as the extrovert is headed in the same direction as the introvert, then they will have a harmonious relationship. It is important not to fall into a “dominant-submissive” relationship, where one gets bored and starts to get annoyed with the partner’s lack of initiative and the other feels oppressed.

To keep the balance, the extrovert needs to learn how to decipher the introvert’s non-verbal language, to understand what they want. The introvert, on the other hand, must grab the ammunition they are given by their partner when it comes to expressing their feelings. Both partners have to accept the fact that they can’t change each other and that the difference in their behavior is the reason why they fell for each other in the first place.

The Penny-Pincher vs. The Big Spender

They get along because in his methodical, reasonable, organized way, the penny-pincher keeps control of the relationship and reassures the big spender, who tends to act impulsively. The big spender, who is usually more social, helps the penny pincher to let loose a little. But their relationship can be complicated if efforts are only made on one side. Long term, one could blame the other for their pettiness or for lack of rigor. Keeping the balance means accepting and understanding each other. The penny-pincher has to fight against anxiety, while the big spender should try not to worry their partner by spending foolishly.

The Optimist vs. The Pessimist

Pessimists believe they are threatened by the outside world whereas optimists see the good in everything. They have a common ground though, which allows them some equilibrium: The pessimist can teach the optimist the importance of caution, while the latter can teach the pessimist how to grab life by the horns.

The lack of nuances in each person can lead to total misunderstandings though. One can be seen as a “kill-joy,” the other one as an irresponsible person. To keep things balanced, there has to be moderation on both sides.

Meticulous vs. Chaotic

Meticulous people like things structured and organized, and tend to live in anticipation, while chaotic people live day to day. One takes the law very seriously, the other breaks it. One hates tidying up, the other one loves it. Respecting each other and making concessions is the key to keeping a good balance.

Dominant vs. Submissive

One has doubts, the other makes decisions. One moves forward, the other hesitates. There can only be a balance here if emotional dependence is not too strong on either side. The dominant person actually uses the submissive person’s doubts to reassure themselves by imposing their opinion. The submissive person must therefore keep some independence in order to not suffocate.

The Scientist vs. The Artist

We all have our own area of predilection. Happily, love is not all about interests: both people in the relationship can be interested in the other’s character. To exaggerate some traits, let’s say that the man is attracted to the woman’s artistic sensibility, and the woman is more attracted to the man’s organization capacities and common sense.

It is important to ensure that the couple maintains good communication and that one partner does not grow distant from the other. The lack of point of interests between a couple can be filled in by friends or colleagues. What matters is to keep showing a bit of interest to your partner so that you can have a harmonious everyday life.

Attractive & Poor vs. Ugly & Rich

Fairness is important for any couple. If a man has a comfortable working situation, but is not really physically attractive, he still has a good chance of attracting a beautiful woman who would not have his social status, and vice-versa. Asymmetry therefore does not necessarily mean that a couple has no chance of success, if it is kept equal by other aspects.

Our Advice:

If you want a relationship with an opposite to work (and to last), there has to be tolerance, respect, and love between both partners. It might be tough, but all relationships are possible – as long as there is real love involved. Learn more with these 5 keys to find love.

Florence Escaravage was born in Paris and lives there today with her husband and 3 kids, after living in the United States along the way. She founded Love Intelligence® in 2007 after spending two years consulting with an expert committee of leading psychologists, effectively professionalizing the sector by being the first (and only) love coach to create and implement an internationally recognized certification.
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