Opposites Repel

Instant sparks with someone new might feel like love, but for a relationship to work, you’ll need more than that to keep the home fires burning. Learn why mutual interests matter more than chemistry here.

By Marina Sbrochi

ou’ve heard the saying “opposites attract,” right? Let me put it into context for you. The saying “opposites attract” works best when you’re talking about the nature of magnetism.

What about “opposites attract” as it relates to dating?

The short answer is this: Initially, opposites attract when you’re dating because each person admires or desires certain qualities about the other. It’s only after some time has passed that
We’re often drawn to the qualities we wish we had ourselves in a date.
both individuals no longer admire the opposite’s qualities; rather, they despise them. In reality, they wish they were with someone more like themselves, and not so completely different.

You’ve probably heard a recently divorced person mention the reason for the divorce was because “they were just two different people.” But I’ll bet if they recalled back to their early months of dating, they would have said how cool and different the other person was from the outset.

How many times have you found yourself attracted to someone who was completely different than yourself? It most likely didn’t work out long-term. I think I know why — let me explain the misnomer of “opposites attract” in dating.

What first draws you together can eventually push the two of apart
The carefree, artsy woman is drawn to the conservative banker for his wonderful time management skills and love of order. He, in turn, initially admires her ability to fly by the seat of her pants and finds her free-spirited lifestyle refreshing. (Of course, this is within the first three months.) After time, banker guy gets annoyed that he’s always waiting for his “I don’t wear a watch” free bird to show up. Artsy woman feels that her banker just doesn’t “get” her anymore and is now trying to put her into a neat, organized box, along with everything else.

The truth lies somewhere in between. We’re often drawn to the qualities we wish we had ourselves in a date, and can appreciate those differences in others. However, when it comes time to merge these interests into a life together, problems arise. The truth is, we really want people to be more like us; so the resentment begins, and that’s when the relationship declines.

So, how do we get around in a world where we are drawn to our polar opposites?

How much are you willing to compromise for love?
First, realize that you aren’t looking for your twin in a date. I’m not suggesting you have to like all of the exact same things; just know that if you can’t find much in common with someone, you’ll be faced with an extremely bumpy road filled with negotiation during your relationship. The naysayers might chime in with
You don’t want every single decision to become a negotiation.
advice like, “You can always learn how to compromise.” Of course you can compromise — that’s what makes any good relationship work. The difference is, in a marriage, you don’t want every single decision to become a negotiation. You save that kind of deal-making for business. Could you imagine having to compromise on everything from choosing what to serve for breakfast up until the time that you go to bed at night? Don’t forget that you would be compromising with someone that’s your complete opposite. This may sound like fun for about half a second, but I assure you, constantly working through every single one of life’s little decisions can become a headache. Wouldn’t it be much easier if you were with someone that shared lots of the same interests?

The top two reasons why mutual interests matter in relationships:
  1. Better vacations. If you want your time away together to actually be a vacation, you must like where you’re going. Let’s have a look into why this could be a problem if you are with someone who’s your complete opposite. It’s finally nice outside, and of course you want to go to the beach. However, your love prefers to go skiing. You hate the cold, and he hates the heat. Lying around on the beach doing nothing sounds like a perfect vacation to you — but it sounds like torture to him. Getting up early in the freezing cold to “exercise” is your idea of a nightmare, and he wouldn’t want his vacation be anything other than an action-packed fun time on the slopes. However, if you and your partner had similar ideas about what to do on your vacation, you could actually agree on where to go and have fun during your time there together, because you’d be doing exactly whatever it is that you both enjoy. Anyone who’s gone on a “vacation” that was filled with arguments and problems knows exactly why it wasn’t a real vacation, because it felt more like torment instead.
  2. Less fighting. Okay, okay, I can’t guarantee that you will fight less — but I’m willing to bet my lunch money on this tactic. Let me break it down for you: Studies show that couples fight most about money issues. With that in mind, if you shared mutual interests in the same way that you choose to handle money, chances are good that you’ll fight less about financial issues in the future, because you’ll both already be in agreement. Do you see how that works out? If you both share the same ideas on big-ticket items (like where to live and how to raise any children), you’d fight a lot less about the other big things that can complicate relationships.
Often, it’s the little things that can ruin an otherwise-great relationship, such as picking fights and arguing over one thing after another with your mate. Pretty soon, one last, petty disagreement blows the whole thing out of proportion and the relationship dies a slow, painful death, one tiny argument at a time.

You can save yourself from this kind of future heartache by looking for someone you already have lots in common with to date. Then, take your dream vacation together and celebrate what you both love doing as a couple.

Marina Sbrochi grew up in Dublin, Ohio and attended Ohio State University. She’s a forever Buckeye, a dating coach in Dallas, Texas and the IPPY Award-winning author of Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the Love of Your Life. You can learn more at, on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@MarinaSbrochi).
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