Dr. Chris Lee
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Do Opposites Attract? Eh, Not Really but ...

Do Opposites Attract? Eh, Not Really but Kind of.

Aug 12, 2021

Opposites Attract but Don’t Stick Together, Says Relationship Research

Before we get started I’d like to shout out my therapist and Disney, one of which completely destroyed my concept of a healthy relationship and the other to help heal it, I’ll leave it to your very capable mind to uncover which is which.

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Opposites Attract

I think we all at some point in our lives have heard the oh so common:

“opposites attract”

and actually, they do. As a species, we tend to seek out new skills that we don’t possess ourselves. That diversity of skill is what allows our society to function to such a degree it does, and a huge part of the reason that our species our competed Homo Neandrathol so many years ago. Homo Neandrathol was bigger, faster, and even had a larger brain than us. Yet our ability to collectively acquire skills as a culture allowed us to win them out in the evolutionary race for survival.

It makes sense, if you look deeply at long-term friendships they tend to have diversity inside of them, a goofy one, crazy one (you know who you are), a smart one, emotional, intellectual, kind, compassionate, responsible, the list goes on. In those circumstances, diversity creates an environment of support, almost like a network of understanding and learning.

However, what about romantic relationships?

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Opposites Repel

The party gets start in 1950’s sociology research, which looked to answer the same question that we are here for, do opposites really attract. Mixed with the above evolutionary biology we can say collectively we strive to collect a diversity of skills but when it comes to finding your lobster(reference from HIMYM, for soul mate) does it add up.

Nope, the research is quite clear actually, opposites not only don’t attract they tend to repel one another. Relationships that have the greatest diversity in education, finances, age, and personality traits actually show a trend downward for long-term satisfaction and an increase in separation rates.

How about we try this one instead:

Birds of a feather flock together.

This supports the data that we started uncovering in 1950 and helps us better understand mate selection that can drive us to be happier in our relationships. Those who share hobbies, personalities, book interests, and other traits very much correlate to long-term happy relationships.

How about magic? Is there something we can do for some more magic in our relationship. Harry Potter, say less.

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The Magic Ratio

I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Gottman and Robert Levenson, they are relationship researchers and in the course of their studies, they have found some pretty fascinating data. My personal favorite is the magic relationship ratio.

Every relationship has ups and downs, good days, bad days mixed with exploding volcanoes and some toes in the sand kisses. What these researchers found was that on average long-term relationships that got better over time had this in common, for every 1 negative event that occurred together, there were 5 positive.

It’s quite an amazing accomplishment to be honest, with divorce rates not going down to intentionally celebrate the wins more often than you complain takes focus and mindful living. However, the data is rather clear, on long-term marriage satisfaction this is one of the few statistics that bubbles to the surface.

Is there anything else you may be asking? Well yes, ever get curious about those high school sweethearts? Was finding your forever boo in high school really the right path and you messed up?

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Ideal Age for Marriage

I’ll be forward in admitting that the study that this comes from is depressing to say the least. It’s looking for correlations in the early ’20s to mid 40’s life satisfaction based on depression indications. That said what came out of it was quite lovely and pretty straightforward as well, which is usually my favorite kind of psychology research.

This research simply states the following, if you'd like to have less depression and longer/higher relationship satisfaction the secret sauce lies is delaying your proposal until between the ages of 28–33.

Now slow your roll, we talk about this a lot during our time together, the brain doesn’t fully develop until 25 or 26 and we basically don’t know how to drive it until about 28 years old. So this kind of makes sense, however what if you’re out of the window?


Not, really what the outcome of this research shows us is that life follows a trend of 3’s. That about every 3 years we have a major tragedy in our lives and the moments that show a person's true colors is how they handle adversity. After delaying marriage for a period of time it gives you more tragedy to support each other with to see if how they handle poo hitting the ceiling is something you’d like to tie knots on for the foreseeable forever.


Opposites do in fact attract but not forever. Collecting skills as a social group is awesome, but doesn’t make for a long-term happy relationship. When it comes to finding the one for you, find someone who shares common interests and matches your goals, intellect, personality, and loves the same pizza toppings. In terms of timing, there is not the perfect time for love and when it knocks I think deep in our belly jellies we know. Take your time getting to know someone and let the uncertainty of life strengthen your bond together or provide the necessary clarity to find proper alignment in your life.

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