In science, we are taught that magnetic poles attract poles that are different, meaning to say two magnetic pieces will never be attracted to each other if their like poles are made to face each other. In fact, the unlike poles will shift themselves in order to face each other and be united. Me and my crazy mind can think of millions of analogies for true love from that example alone. But the reality of the situation is that human beings and magnetic objects have very different properties. Granted, we are both physical substances but the human is at an advantage or disadvantage (depending on how one looks at it) because we have feelings and emotions, likes and dislikes, principles and morals. As a species, we are complicated as a whole and even more so as the individuals that we are. We have different views in life and similarly our values, backgrounds and expectations from life tend to differ. Now the question is which is better, to be in a relationship with one you have more in common with or to be coupled with someone who is the total opposite of you?
As I was thinking and asking around from friends and family, the consensus was that in the pairing of people for romantic unions, it is impossible for two people to be 100% the same. We all are attracted to a variety of activities, behaviors and characteristics when we consider a partner for a relationship. Some people prefer to spend their Friday nights indoors, watching a romantic movie, sipping on wine whilst the fire is crackling at the fireplace. This way, they get to relax and have a nice time to reconnect with their significant other. On the other hand, some would rather get home from work, take a shower and be out in the town with one mission in mind and that is to paint the town red. They prefer loud music and dancing the night away. You know those people that you meet on Saturday mornings with smudged make up and when they speak their voice are groggy and they seem to drag their word when they speak. Now for instance, if two people meet and one is the indoors type and the other is the outgoing type what will make them find each other attractive?
I think that what people find attractive in another person are qualities they wish they had themselves. We tend to settle for what people say we are and when we meet someone who has some qualities that we wish we had in ourselves, we tend to fall for that. I will give a scenario here – a church girl who is in good and regular standing with the church and with God can fall madly in love with that hoodlum who says and does whatever he wants to whomever he wants. She will see his fearlessness where she used to see her fear of God, she will fall for his tenacity for he will not tire from waiting for her at the church gate to escort her home. Even if she wants to deny her feelings, the way she will giggle non-stop from the church to where they will finally part ways is what will give the this guy hope that his charms and wits are working.
On the other side, the girl’s defences smitten by the fact that as opposed to her, is the master of his own destiny whilst she has to adhere to her church’s rules and regulation. She also has to live up to what society expects of her. She has to maintain the bar she set for herself by how she used to carry herself before she fell for the hoodlum. The guy is smitten by the fact that the girl’s life and has more structure as compared to his. The structure he yearns for is something he got a taste of when he was younger and still under his parent’s control. As maturity kicks in, he begins to want that stability in his life again and hence he falls for the church girl but he lives a spontaneous life where he can spend the night literally anywhere and no one dares tell him what to do. The truth of the matter is that, in as much as he likes that freedom and care free life he needs structure in his life, he yearns for someone to tell him a stern “NO!”, like his mother used to do for him as a child. He thinks of his future and wishes to be a parent whose children will be proud of.
In essence, they are both seeking some qualities that they wish to have in their lives. They both think that learning from and/or surrounding themselves with such a person will make them happy. In some cases, those from opposite upbringings can hit it off and keep the fire burning for a long time. They will each learn to blend their weaknesses and strengths to come up with a formidable union and grow old together. They blend their weaknesses by bending a few aspects of their lives, the hoodlum can probably begin to attend church, the girl will in turn consider accepting a few sips from his cup until she becomes well versed in the types of alcoholic drinks she can handle. That is compromise, and compromise is a common phenomenon in relationship.
People who believe that opposites attract also believe in compromise, but compromising should be limited when it comes to relationships. People will negotiate about everything if given the chance. A couple that are total opposites of each other can understand that a simple thing like deciding what movie to watch can be a tedious activity. Most guys do not watch romantic movies and its quite common that women are suckers for those tear jerking movies about the girl who loved the vampire and friend-zoned the wolf. But now its date night and that can be ruined by the couple’s failure to decide on what movie to watch. It’s up to one of them or both to come up with an amicable solution that will have the night ending well for both. The fact that these two are together shows that they like each other for one reason or the other and that should count for something. My guess is that with such couples, one of the parties has grown accustomed to letting a part of their individualities suffer just so they can please their partner, just so the relationship keeps on going. In the end, one of two things will occur, either one will be totally consumed by the other such that they become so alike in all matters, or the one who does most of the compromising will end up resenting themselves and their partner. The argument then that opposites attract is thus strength. Hence in as much opposites attract, the differences in a relationship should be in good moderation.
Speaking of good moderation, the question as to what differences are able to co-exist in a relationship rises. In my own opinion, there are some things that can never co-exist. Two people with different views in terms of religion, politics and general life principals will always be at loggerheads when it comes to being a couple in a working relationship. Some aspects in our individual lives cannot be debated upon. These are things that are set in stone as it were, and no matter what type of persuasion is employed, one cannot change their mind. These aspects of one’s individuality are not in-sync with those of their partner that spells trouble. By and large opposites attract but it takes more than just attraction to have a successful relationship.
Furthermore having too many similarities can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. One person I had a lengthy conversation about this topic with made a statement that stuck to my mind. She said “I do not want to date myself, I spend too much with myself as it is, why should I go on and date another me?” In other words, what she meant was that when she thinks of a potential partner, the person has to be different. I find a lot of sense in what she said because as a person I am adventurous and I like a challenge here and there. I am all about trying to learn and if I am stuck with someone who will not challenge me mentally then problems will arise. So the one encompassing merit of being with someone different from me is that I will learn stuff and learning is fun. Surely no person will have fun when their partner will always agree to everything they suggest, but if we agree on stuff, there are less fights, we have more time to be maintaining and growing the relationship rather than rebuilding it. But then again, monotony will reign and statements such as “Change is inevitable” will surface in the relationship when one party becomes bored by doing the same things all the time and then cue “trouble in paradise”. As I said before, People are complex.
A lot of scenarios can be given about how opposites can attract and how they can either be good or bad for the relationship, but there is more to a relationship than just being attracted to each other. Yes, it is true that attraction is very vital for a relationship but on the other hand, attraction can fade in a matter of minutes. A real relationship is a full time job, you are always on duty and you write your own check. So whether you and your partner are so different we can change your names and call you North and South pole or you are so alike that you always have the same dream every night, you are not exempt from putting in the work. Respect the things your partner likes, share experiences, make memories, go through things with that special person in your life and above all love that person with all you have and a little bit more.
By Thabani Tonga