Dating Someone Similar Or Different – Opposites Attract?

In the last two posts in Part 1: Find Love, we saw that the first step to finding love is loving yourself (Love Yourself) and then looked at how to perform a self diagnosis to find out who you are and what you really want from a relationship/partner (Know Yourself & What You Really Want From A Partner). Following the same theme, in this post, we’ll look at dating someone similar to you in comparison to dating someone different to you and touch on the core foundation of successful relationships: the keys to long-term love.

If you happened to try out the previous self assessment task, you would have compared the characteristics that define you with the characteristics of your ideal partner. How many of these were similar? How many were different? There are a number of pros and cons for dating someone similar to you versus someone different to you. For starters, the former allows you to stay in your comfort zone, making you feel safe and balanced, whereas the latter might take you out of your comfort zone, which can be scary and make us feel vulnerable.

On the other hand, dating someone similar might see you fall into a rut of doing the same old things over and over again (making it harder to avoid falling into a relationship rut), but you can always do new things together (travel, take a class or course, explore new foods, and so on). However, with someone different, you could be trying and learning new things, and expanding your experiences and knowledge. They could provide a fresh and invigorating perspective on life (or at least show you that that particular thing is not right for you!), but it might mean more work and effort to get the same level of enjoyment out of the relationship.

I have friends and colleagues in long-term relationships at both ends of this spectrum, and I’ve seen that either of these can work well. We’re often advised by others that we should look for someone similar to ourselves, but there’s also the old adage that “opposites attract.” Sometimes opposites really do attract (and particularly when going on those first few dates, someone different can offer interesting conversation and new, exciting perspectives on life), but for long-term success with someone even moderately different, you must like or at least tolerate your potential mate’s differences – whether these are their beliefs, ideas, interests, activities, and so on.

This leads us to one of the keys to a successful long-term relationship: the sharing of common beliefs, goals or worldly ideas. This is hugely important, and can cover topics such as religion (or lack thereof), life/career goals, views on male-female roles/equality, marriage, morals, and so on. An additional factor that can play a role in successful relationships is that both partners have a similar level of experience (love/relationships, sex, life experience in general, etc.). Although perhaps it is not the level of experience itself that is critical, as this has happened in the past and cannot be changed, but the stage at which each partner is at in each of these areas with a view to the future. Love may transcend differences in personality, interests, and life experiences, but most likely not the more critical ones listed here. Do you respect and value this person’s views and opinions, their career, and do you appreciate their hobbies and interests (even if you don’t enjoy them particularly yourself)? In the end, personalities that complement and balance a relationship, rather than those that are the same or polar opposites, give the best opportunity for long-term relationship success.

How do you feel about dating someone similar to you versus someone different? What do you think are the keys to a successful relationship?

In the next post of Part 1: Find Love, we explore the dos and don’ts of a first date (First Date Dos and Don’ts).