Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Why do opposites (not) attract?

17 February 2018


Have you ever held two magnets opposite each other? From a distance, they attract each other. However, at a close range, magnets either cling to each other immediately or magnets just refuse to cling together. These two opposite forces work the same way in (new) relationships: from a distance there is attraction but at a close range this attraction might be gone.

Folk wisdom points at the first: opposites do attract. I think, feel and believe that this folk wisdom contains a lot of truth. However, attraction might be nothing more than lust in this context. In Love and/or relationships, opposites will always cause differences of opinion. These differences need to be bridged, preferably from both sides. Else, irreconcilable differences may occur.

The Conversation (2018): “Since the 1950s, social scientists have conducted over 240 studies to determine whether similarity in terms of attitudes, personality traits, outside interests, values and other characteristics leads to attraction.”

The Conversation (2018): “In 2013, psychologists Matthew Montoya and Robert Horton examined the combined results of these studies in what’s called a meta-analysis. They found an irrefutable association between being similar to and being interested in the other person.”

Being similar will translate in having similar opinions. On the one hand, this might be boring at times. On the other hand, there will be less arguments and fights on who is right and wrong. Hence, there is little need for reconciling opinions. This will help the “relationship ledger” in which we keep score of our pluses and minuses (eg, Karen Grierson, my 2016 blog).

I think, feel and believe that similarity in relationships creates comfort rather than attraction. However, both attraction and comfort support a relationship, although the duration of attraction is likely to be less than comfort.

In other words, attraction is the magnetism that brings people together. Similarity is the glue that keeps people together. To some extent, attraction and similarity are like apples and oranges

A William Blake quote on attraction: “Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.” (eg, Wiki)

A Giorgio Armani quote on similarity: “It’s not a good idea to match your shoes with a bag too stringently. Go for subtle similarity.”

A Theodor Adorno quote that bridges attraction and similarity: “Love is the power to see similarity in the dissimilar.”

Opposites Attract (1989) by Paula Abdul – artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Baby, ain’t it something how we lasted this long?

You and me proving everyone wrong

I don’t think we’ll ever get our differences patched

It don’t really matter ’cause we perfectly matched


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