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Do Opposites Really Attract?

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We’ve all heard the age old saying ‘opposites attract’, but is there really any truth in this?

Over the last few weeks I have been looking into this in detail, by carrying out research online, and by asking people I know their opinions on the matter. I have also spent some time looking at successful couples and what makes them so good together to try and find out whether ‘opposites attract’ is fact or just a myth.

Dr Helen Fisher author of ‘The anatomy of Love’ states that there are four main personality types, Director, Negotiator, Builder, and Explorer, and claims that this is down to basic brain systems and the levels of Dopamine, Serotonin, Testosterone and Estrogen levels we have. Dr Helen Fisher believes that Builders fit best with other Builders, and that Explorers fit well with other Explorers. I feel this works against the theory of opposites attract, as these people tend to have strong similarities when it comes to values and personalities. However, interestingly, she feels that Negotiators and Directors attract each other, which supports the age old theory.

I started looking at some successful couples, both celebrities and people I know, and also looked at relationships that had been short lived and why this was. The majority of the successful couples did have some similarities, but also strong differences. There always seemed to be someone in the relationship that was more dominant than the other and more outspoken. This, I feel, made perfect sense. In times of disagreement, if both parties are quite stubborn and fiery, I have found this can lead to a very explosive end, unless at some point one person was to back down.

Professor David Frost has said 'People who yearn for a more intimate relationship and people who crave more distance are equally at risk of having a problematic relationship. If you want to experience your relationship as healthy and rewarding, it's important that you find a way to attain your idealised level of closeness with your partner. Feeling either too close or not close enough will see a relationship weaken and eventually break up. It's not how close you feel that matters most, it's whether you are as close as you want to be, even if that's really not close at all.' From reading this, I feel that Professor David Frost means that the issue is not necessarily whether you have similar or opposite personalities, the thing that makes a relationship works, is that both parties want the same amount of intimacy and closeness, which from studying successful and unsuccessful couples I would agree with.

I think that it is important for people to have similar interests and common ground, however I feel that some opposites in personality types definitely strengthen a relationship. I think the key though is what Professor David Frost states about closeness. I think you both need to want the same levels of closeness and intimacy in order for a relationship to work. Because of this, I feel it is often possible for people to meet the right person at the wrong time because the level of closeness we want often changes depending on what point we are at in our lives, and past experiences. Therefore, after carrying out all of my research, I have come to the conclusion that the age old saying is neither fact nor fiction, and that there does need to be some opposites in a relationship as well as similarities in order to make them work.

Written by: Liz Harwood