For the longest time, I have struggled between these 2 dating dynamics. I had been looking for the opposite personality to me because everyone always says, “opposites attract”. Recently I have found that I connect more easily with those that are more similar to me. Is there a right or wrong approach that can lead me to a healthier and more lasting relationship?
I appreciate your confusion about this topic. It can be a challenging dynamic to navigate. I have seen successful relationships built from both extremes. With that said, a relationship between extreme opposites or extremely similar people can take extraordinary amounts of work.
Let’s explore “opposites attract”. The core reason that opposites attract is that each partner fills a space in the other that is lacking. Whether it is a personality trait, talent, intellectual ability, skill, or mindset, each partner filling the other partner’s void creates a feeling of mutual completion. As parents, such partners have the potential to create balance for their children who are able to absorb different qualities from each parent. Furthermore, as children watch their parents successfully navigate life in vastly different ways, they can learn that there is more than one way to accomplish a task or reach a goal.
The challenge of this type of dynamic is when the couple’s opposites are so extreme that each has trouble relating to the way the other sees the world, handles life situations, or reacts to social experiences. This difficulty in understanding can bring (often significant) strain to a relationship.
“Birds of a feather” tend to “flock together” due to the comfort that emerges from shared personalities, outlooks, and experiences. This type of relationship can bring great satisfaction in a deep feeling of being understood and in sharing life with someone who sees and experiences the world as you do. It can truly feel like you found your other half.
Common challenges with this type of relationship are boredom and too little interpersonal stimulus. When you and a dating partner possess multiple identical traits your uniqueness may not find as much room for expression. You may find fewer opportunities to make meaningful contributions to each other. Finally, even if relationship partners find such a dynamic satisfying, it may not provide children with the same degree of balance.
So which is best? How do we figure out which direction to take?
Ultimately, whatever dynamic you choose, the most important thing is that it works! Theory is great but practice is better.
This is far too broad and personal of a question to be able to answer for the public. Every relationship has its own dynamic. Every possible permutation of this opposites vs. similars question has been attempted. Some of these relationships have been spectacular successes and some have been colossal failures. There is one critical and highly leveraged piece of advice that I can share.
Visualize a Venn diagram where one circle is pink and the other blue, with an overlapping shade of purple in the center. The outer parts of the circles are each person’s unique traits, interests, outlooks, experiences, talents, and character. The purple center represents those elements that are shared.
A relationships’ necessary components must be in the purple center. These include each person’s relationship needs, their values, shared life goals, and vision of the home they’re looking to build.
If these critical elements are in place, relationships can work whether there is a lot of overlap (a very large purple area) or if there is very little overlap (a purple area that contains only the relationship’s most vital components.)
Ultimately, whatever dynamic you choose, the most important thing is that it works! Theory is great but practice is better. Sometimes what doesn’t seem to make sense on paper does work in reality and vice-versa. These are difficult issues to navigate as they are central to the relationship’s chance of success, impact the happiness of the entire future family, and are difficult to navigate from the subjective inside. I’d recommend seeking the help of a coach or mentor if you’re experiencing ambivalence around this issue in your relationship.
May we all experience balance, connection and uniqueness in our relationships, allowing us to emerge into a greater version of ourselves. A date that shares commonalities while also provides balance, color, texture, and perspective, is more likely to lead us down the shortest distance to our longest relationship.