Personal Development

Do Opposites Really Attract? What The Research & Experts Say

Although it’s a common belief that “opposites attract,” research shows that couples who share similarities are actually more likely to last long-term. A 2005 study of marital satisfaction found that similarity is an important predictor of long-term relationship success, with personality being a key factor in determining whether or not a couple will last.

A 2017 study1 found that close friends and romantic partners tend to share similar core beliefs, values, and hobbies, and other research suggests2 that we’re even drawn to people with similar physical traits as ours because we tend to find them more trustworthy. A 2022 study3 about dating app behaviors found that more highly educated users were more likely to choose a profile that flagged a higher education degree as well, suggesting that even online, similarity matters. 

But what about your aunt and uncle who have been married for 20 years and are polar opposites? “It might be easy for other people to look at their relationship as evidence for ‘opposites attracting,’” says therapist Daniel Matchar, LMSW. “However, when a large sample of couples is examined, this pattern does not hold. Everyone has an example of an ‘opposites attract’ couple, but if you took an inventory of all the couples you know, it would probably become clear that these are usually anomalies.”

Some stats, however, show that opposites can indeed attract and make things work—with a caveat. A 2020 study4 published in Developmental Psychology found that sharing intimate thoughts and feeling appreciated by a partner in a relationship are equally as important as having autonomy and separate interests. So even if you’re total opposites, the relationship can be a rewarding one as long as there’s enough communication and common ground. 

Modern dating also looks different than it did decades ago, and today, opposites may be more likely to attract than they used to. “The pandemic caused us to throw out our blueprint of who and how we date,” says Boodram, who, in her work with Bumble, witnesses many success stories where opposites attract. “A recent Bumble survey found that 1 in 3 (38%) of people around the world are now more open to who they consider dating beyond their ‘type,’” she tells mbg.

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