Love seeks a complement not an opposite

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Turns out people aren’t like magnets; they’re more like puzzle pieces of the same color.

When I was a kid I kept hearing that people were like magnets because persons are attracted to their opposites. Like most popular beliefs at its core lies a bit of truth but it’s over simplistic and not totally accurate. Let’s think about it.

There are two main schools of thought:

  • Identicals attract. A happy couple looks and thinks alike; they go to the same concerts, read the same books, watch the same movies, have the same opinions. Otherwise, they would be arguing all the time and they wouldn’t be able to do anything together.

  • Opposites attract. A happy couple looks totally apart from each other; they like different things and have different opinions. Otherwise, they would get bored of each other, because it would be like looking at a mirror, every single day.

Relationships are about getting our own needs met, often on an unconscious basis. In other words, we try to find someone who is complementary to us and can help us learn, heal, and grow. Jean Lawrence

Unconsciously you look for someone who can improve you; and for someone to improve you he/she has to be the opposite different than you, otherwise he/she would have the same faults. Thus, different in a way that complements you.

There’s a natural pressure to do so, kind of a survival of the fittest – you team up to be better together! I used the natural evolution analogy because attraction is something that also happens instinctively, without you even noticing it. Consider the following study about the behavior of men and women on online dating websites. Do you know what was the conclusion?

Users search for potential mates who are in their league in terms of looks and desirability. High-popularity users contacted other popular users at a rate greater than would be expected by chance. Daily Mail

We now understand that the opposites law is wrong. We search for partners who look like us and who act and think like us. This last part was proven in 2005 by a study from the University of Iowa. Researchers assessed attitude (e.g. religion) vs personality (e.g. extroversion) similarities between couples.

Couples that had more in common personality-wise were more likely to be happy and satisfied with their marriages. A.P.A.


Magnets attract because they are opposite in a way that they complement each other. For instance, a communist and a right liberal are conflicting opposites – they don’t complement each other because they are antagonists.

On human relationships, the opposites do attract. We call it crushes, passions, and those are short-term. When you’re talking about a love for life, you’ll find couples of like-minded people with similar looks.

That’s why the cheerleader is attracted to the jerk. Guys with high levels of testosterone attract girls with equally high levels of estrogen. That’s plain natural selection and reproduction instincts. However we learned that long-lasting couples are composed of matching persons, with complementary levels of hormones. That’s why the shy guy has a chance with the talkative girl, but will never get the extroverted popstar – she’s just too opposite.

So… who do you attract? Find that out and you’ll learn a lot about yourself.