Do Opposites Really Attract?

Ever been in a relationship where the other person seems to be your polar opposite, yet for some reason the relationship still works?  I certainly have.  My longest relationship has been with my current partner with whom I’ve two beautiful children, and although like any relationship we have the occasional ups and downs, we just seem to fit.  Not really that surprising until you consider that we are more opposite than alike.  My partner will go to bed early and be up at the crack of dawn and even if I’m tired I still can’t seem to get to bed until late and I love nothing more than a sleep in.  I’m a neatness freak, whereas domestic endeavours are not his top priority.  Admittedly, I was once diagnosed with borderline Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so my partner probably has no chance of living up to my crazy domestic standards.  However, this does beg the question why I wouldn’t choose a partner who has a similar penchant for all things clean and sparkling.  Perhaps it’s not the most crucial thing to base the longevity of a relationship, but I think you can get where I’m going with this.  We have lots of opposites but we seem to have found what we each need to make us happy.  So does this mean that opposites really do attract?

What Do The Studies Say?

Surprisingly, when I sifted through the literature on this subject I came across several articles that suggested the laws of attraction had a lot to do with ‘like attracts like’. This certainly didn’t gel with my situation, so was my relationship unique or was there more to it?  First, you need to understand what this idea of ‘like attracts like’ means.  One study claims that if we consider ourselves to be attractive, then we tend to seek out a partner of comparable attractiveness. (  This suggests that physical attributes do play a considerable role in what we are attracted to.  However, this is not the only measure of attraction.  Similarly, it claims that our own perceived wealth causes us to want a partner of comparable wealth.  Perhaps this is not as superficial as it sounds, as it could derive from a desire to seek out the best possible provider for any future family.  At this point, I still wasn’t convinced, as I did not meet my partner face to face until after we had communicated for some time via email and phone, and I certainly didn’t consciously assess him as a future provider.  So I searched further for the answer.

Another study suggested that it is facial features that we are first attracted to, specially the symmetry of our face.  (  Again, as my first encounter with my partner was not face to face this was obviously not what I was initially attracted to.  However, there is still an element of truth in this belief that did apply to my experience.  My partner does have a symmetrical face, so although this is not what initially attracted me, it may well be what perpetuated the attraction.  Still I needed more.  This is where I turned to science.
Is It All About Science?

The findings go on to suggest that this is why opposites attract: the desire to produce the healthiest offspring possible.  This is a study that has been repeated and tested several times with the similar outcome that women are attracted to the smell of men who have a different genetic immune system composition to their own.  Science has proven that the healthiest offspring is produced from parents with different immune system genes, with pheromones acting like homing devices detecting these opposing genes. (

Given my experience, it is science that provides me with the most convincing argument as to why opposites attract.  Although this theory is founded on laws of attraction on a subconscious level where pheromones are at play; if ensuring the healthiest possible offspring could be determined by conscious levels of attraction I would be equally influenced.  The desire to protect our offspring and keep them healthy is a driving force for parents alike.  So next time I’m wondering just what it is that works with my partner and I as seeming opposites, I’ll simply hold him close, take a big sniff and wonder no more.