Social Question

Blackberry's avatar

Where did the notion that "opposites attract" come from?

Asked by Blackberry (30929points) June 7th, 2011

For relationships, obviously. I’ve heard it for intimate relations and friendships, although from my short experience, that doesn’t seem to be the case. What am I missing? Please inform me; thank you.

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9 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

Someone had to do it.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

From observing magnets?

Haleth's avatar

Rom-coms? It doesn’t seem to hold true in real life. Couples I know who seem like opposites on the surface have deeper, important things in common. Personality differences are ok, but it seems like shared values are essential to making a relationship work.

Coloma's avatar

It means we are often attracted to the missing or un-integrated parts of ourselves.

The free spirited type might be attracted to the conservative type.

The introvert to the extrovert.

The thinker to the feeler.

On & on.

While some differences can be complementary, mostly they end up being areas of conflict that show each person where their weaknesses lie.

The ideal of a fully whole and integrated pysche is to be in balance.

This doesn’t mean an extrovert will turn into an introvert or vice versa, but it does mean you learn to grow, and enhance, master, or modify the traits you could use work on.

This also applies to the male/female polarites…yin & yang, and each sexes need to embrace their totality. The woman who can be strong and tough and make rational, logical decisions without emotional fallout.

The man that can feel his feelings, and find pleasure in his nurturing side.

As a mature person one tends to seek likeminded others, not polar opposites to play out the same old routines with.

” WHY can’t you be more social?”

” WHY can’t YOU be quieter?”

” WHY do YOU spend so much money?”

” WHY are YOU such a cheapskate?”

Usually opposites end up creating a match made in hell a lot of the time. lol

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Wikipedia says “In the mid 20th century, social scientists began to apply Plato’s first law of affinity, i.e. ‘likes attract’, to relationship life noting that, for example, people tend to marry based on such factors as age, religion, socioeconomic status, and education. In the 1950s, in opposition to this view, sociologist Robert F. Winch proposed the ‘opposites attract’ theory, arguing that people are attracted to those whose needs conversely match his or her own.”

Plucky's avatar

Lol @Coloma Usually opposites end up creating a match made in hell a lot of the time.

dd65708's avatar

On the other hand the risk of being attracted to someone exactly the same as yourself is stagnation through total boredom once the novelty wears off!

Coloma's avatar


This is true too. But, I still think base compatibility in terms of energy levels, relating style and well matched temprament is really important.

I used to joke when I was married that my ex and I were like a donkey and a racehorse.

I was the racehorse, he was the ass. lol

Seriously though, donkeys have their merits, but, if you want to be equally yoked, better off pairing two donkeys or two thoroughbreds.
Dragging an ass along was exhausting! hahaha

jrpowell's avatar

The only people I know in real life that are happily married after 40 years are my aunt and uncle. All the other married couples I know are unhappy or have been divorced. My aunt and uncle met in the Air Force and are pretty much the same person. She was nurse and he was a social worker. Both are vegetarians and wear glasses and have the craziest book collections you will ever see.

I think a lot of the opposites attract thing comes from woman that want a “bad boy” and think that they can fix them.

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