Dating: Do opposites attract or is it “birds of a feather”?

You’ve probably heard the phrases “opposites attract” and “birds of a feather flock together.” Both phrases seem to offer opposing recommendations for dating. “Opposites attract” suggests that differences are attractive, and “birds of a feather flock together” suggests that similarities are attractive. So which statement is more true?

It turns out that “birds of a feather flock together” is a more accurate predictor of attraction and satisfaction in dating relationships. However, you can find some differences attractive when dating, especially if you view them as complementary to your personal qualities.

Do opposites attract?

It can be exciting to meet someone who’s different from yourself, and you might find that person attractive because of their differences. However, if they’re too different, you might foresee the end of your relationship. Differences initially seen as exciting are often cited later as reasons for breakups.

It’s important that your partner’s differences complement your qualities too. You might feel you benefit from dating them because they provide something you lack. For example, maybe you benefit from your partner’s diverse life experiences or because they introduce you to new ideas, food, or music.

Perhaps your partner has either a more dominant or more passive personality that balances you out. However, if you’re both dominant, you might end up competing for control and engaging in high levels of conflict. On the other hand, if you’re both passive, you might end up frustrated if neither of you take initiative in the relationship, such as planning date nights or bringing up topics that might cause conflict.

Why “birds of a feather flock together”

Have you ever left a first date and thought, “Wow, I have nothing in common with them”? That probably means there was no second date. Maybe the differences were just too much, and you couldn’t see yourselves together in the long term.

Generally, you tend to be more attracted to someone like yourself because it feels comfortable and familiar. It might feel like you already know them if they are similar in age, are open to new experiences, or have the same sense of humor, political views, or religious background. Similarities in such core values tend to lead to long-lasting and more satisfying relationships.

Interested in learning more about dating relationships? Check out these additional HPRC articles:

Published on: June 5, 2023

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