Let’s say you’re on a date and it turns out the person sitting across from you is fundamentally different from you in many ways. He’s shy and sticks to his routines, while you’re outgoing and fly by the seat of your pants. You feel like you should give him a chance, but at the same time you’re wondering if it’s a good idea to attempt a relationship.
Some psychological research indicates people like you and him simply won’t get along
When studying spouses’ attitudes, beliefs, age, religion, race, economic status, intelligence, appearance, smoking behaviors, education levels, and height, researchers, Buss & Kandel (1985; 1978), found that people prefer their significant other to be more similar to them, instead of opposite. The study concludes that “The greater the similarity between spouses, the happier they are and the less likely they are to divorce” (Byrne, 1971; Caspi & Herbener, 1990). (Myers, 2002).
We also tend to dislike people who are dissimilar to us because we have a “false consensus bias.” We assume other people share our attitudes, yet if they present different attitudes, we generally dislike them (Rosenbaum, 1986; Hoyle, 1993). The research concludes that “The more similar someone’s attitudes are to your own, the more likable you will find the person (Byrne, 1971)…This is especially so for those satisfied with themselves (Klohnen & Mendelsohn, 1998). If you like yourself, you are likely to partner with someone like yourself” (Myers, 2002).
But wait—don’t give up just yet. Even though it seems like the Psychological Gods are against you and your polar-opposite date getting married…
There’s evidence supporting opposites attract in some cases:
- Find out if your date is more dominant or submissive in his personality. Then assess where you land on the scale. If you happen to be opposites, attraction is more likely (Dryer & Horowitz, 1997).
- You’ll probably feel more attracted to a guy if he doesn’t possess “your own worst traits” (for example: if you have a short fuse and he’s easy going) (Schmiel & others, 2000).
Even though opposites attract in some cases, you might want to go for a guy who has a lot in common with you. He doesn’t have to be the same person (that would be hard to find—let alone deal with), but he should be someone you can talk to, relate to and hang out with. The less you have in common, the harder it is to do each of those things, which are necessary to maintain, or even begin, a relationship.
All research can be found in Social Psychology, 7th Ed. By David G. Myers.