Scenario 1: We meet a guy at our favorite band’s concert, and upon getting to know him, discover that we have enough in common to feel an instant attraction to him.
Scenario 2: We lock eyes with a guy in an environment we rarely find ourselves in, and upon talking to him find that we have little in common with him, and yet we feel inexplicably attracted to him.
There’s truth to both of these attraction scenarios, and both are responsible for launching many relationships, but is one a better recipe for a delicious relationship?
Lovers in the Looking Glass
By definition, the Law of Attraction asserts “that which is like unto itself is drawn.” Many successful relationships have emerged from the premise that we are deeply attracted to those who are most like us, particularly in our search for the perfect mate. Perhaps we are drawn narcissistically to the mirrored image we see in this person. We are pleased and comfortable with his looks, intellect, social status and personality, which we perceive as being quite similar to our own. After all, the more we have in common with our partner, the more experiences we can enjoy together, the more congruent our way of thinking and decision-making will be, and the more we probably will understand each other.
Another aspect of this paradigm is that we are usually most attracted to those who share our religious, educational, financial and moral values. On a deeper level, we might infer that we are attracted to those who have similar lessons to learn in life, and who have common issues that they can reflect back at us. In this respect, we can help each other understand those issues and even move past them as we work on them as a couple.
Opposites Attract, Until They Don’t
No doubt you’ve heard the tales about introverts seeking extroverts to add zest to their lives. Or how about the neat-freak woman pairing up the super-slob guy? Even in our fairy tales, we love the story about the beauty falling in love with the beast. Whatever the particulars, certain people are in relationships with those deemed to be their polar opposite. These relationships tend to have a lot of passion and chemistry, but can often burn out and end in a strong dislike for one another as the differences between the two ultimately drive them crazy.
The successful opposite relationships tend to be with those couples that balance one another out by virtue of their differences. Dissimilar personality traits can force the other partner out of their comfort zone, which can promote personal growth and allow each one to have enriching life experiences that they otherwise would not have enjoyed.
One way that this could backfire would be if each partner came to rely on the other for their own specific strengths. An example of this might be a relationship where there was a talkative vs. quiet personality difference, where the more outspoken partner becomes the “spokesperson” for the couple. Each person could come to rely on the other to make them feel complete, which is why we should strive to emulate those traits of our mate that we admire in an attempt to stretch our own comfort zones and become more complete individuals.
And There the Twain Shall Meet
Perhaps the best road to a successful relationship is a healthy balance between these two types of partnerships. Having too many similarities with our mate can make us short-sighted and restrict our world view and experiences. Having too little in common with our significant other can lead to frequent misunderstandings, disagreements and a lack of commonality, which ultimately will tear a relationship apart.