Do Opposites Attract?

I’m using online dating sites and apps to find a partner. I’ve mostly looked for and gone out with guys who are different from me since I was told years ago that ‘opposites attract.’ But none of those relationships have gone the distance. Now, I’m not sure what to do. I’m concerned that I’ll be bored dating a guy who is too similar to me. What should I do? -Barbara

Dear Barbara,

The adage “opposites attract” is a common misconception. What more often happens is that “birds of a feather flock together.” Overall, we prefer people who have similar values, morals, and beliefs to us. Recent studies continue to show that similarities in these areas also lead to more satisfying relationships.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to align on absolutely everything, such as the type of music you listen to, the movies you like and sports teams you root for (if you enjoy sports at all). Sometimes, having varied interests can help you each expand your horizons and pick up something new from your partner. However, it’s our core values and the way in which we view the world that are important. For example, it could be that your political views or religious preference is central to your core values.  Be sure that you and your potential partner match up where it really counts.

Bahns, A. J., Crandall, C. S., Gillath, O., & Preacher, K. J. (2017). Similarity in relationships as niche construction: Choice, stability, and influence within dyads in a free choice environment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology112(2), 329.

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