Is There Any Truth to "Opposites Attract"?



After every breakup I've gone through, the most common comment my friends make—aside from the loyal bestie statement that they never liked him to begin with—is that I had nothing of real substance in common with these boys: "You can't have a relationship based solely on the fact that you both like staying at nice hotels." "So the only thing you actually liked about him was that he can make you laugh?" "The two of you together just didn't make any sense."

I'm a pop culture–obsessed, sports-loving book nerd who happens to adore New York City nightlife. But I tend to fall for homebodies who couldn't care less about the newest speakeasy opening in the Lower East Side and haven't picked up a novel since it was required in high school. I'm also not very religious and am admittedly frivolous with my money, while the boys I've dated come from different but strong religious backgrounds and are quite frugal. Maybe it's my competitive nature to overcome any obstacle thrown at me, but the hopeless romantic in me cannot stop believing my soul mate will be someone who is nothing like me.

We all know—and most likely loathe—this popular theory on love that has been hammered into our hearts since our first rom-com. The princess falling for the commoner. The dumb jock falling for the quiet nerd. The player falling for the committed good girl. This is the theory of opposites attract.

Merriam-Webster defines the idiom "opposites attract" as a phrase "used to say that people who are very different from each other are often attracted to each other." It is a trope we've seen in TV shows and movies over and over again that not only applies to romantic relationships but friendships as well. It makes for a great story arch—two people from completely different backgrounds overcoming the odds to coexist and to a more romantic extreme, live happily ever after. But in reality, that couldn't be further from the truth.

If there are various studies that show relationships with a partner similar to you last longer, why are we so attracted to a theory that tells us to go after someone we have nothing in common with? Do we find thrill in the drama? Do we want to prove those odds wrong? We asked an astrologist, two psychologists, and the vice president of engineering at OkCupid to weigh in on this romantic phenomenon. Scroll down to see what they had to say.