You’ve heard the saying,” opposites attract”. Many people believe that finding a mate who is your opposite is like touching two electrical wires together. Sparks fly and things really heat up. The very idea is exciting: you zig, he zags. He is everything you are not, and vice versa. So, is it true that to find your life partner you should “find your opposite”? Unfortunately, the answer is “no”.

The reality is that opposites do attract, but they rarely stay together. If they do manage to stay married, the relationship is usually fitful and argumentative. Dating someone who is very different – someone who may have characteristics you wish you had – may be very exciting. But this excitement won’t last long, and it won’t be a good foundation for a happy marriage. Ditch diggers don’t do well with doctors, social types aren’t happy with homebodies, and spendthrifts are always at odds with pinchpennies.

Study after study has shown that happily married couples have far more in common than they have differences. If you want the best chance of having a long and happy marriage, marry someone who’s similar to you.

Just because opposites tend not to stay together, however, it doesn’t mean you have to marry your clone to be happy. Your soul mate is not someone who is identical to you. In fact, if the two of you think and act the same in every way, you’ll probably soon get bored with each other. Here’s the secret to a long and happy marriage: marry someone who is complementary. That is, someone who has characteristics you don’t have but admire. That person is different enough to be interesting but is not truly your opposite. If you marry such person, you’ll avoid a lot of conflicts and marriage problems that may otherwise ruin your relationship.

The surveys’ results

When committed couples were surveyed for degree of similarity/dissimilarity here were the results:

Physical beauty: people tend to mate with people who are generally considered the same degree of attractiveness. Beauty rarely marries ugly. A large difference in attractiveness may cause serious problems later in marriage.

Education: successful couples generally match up well in educational levels. However, PhD’s have marriage problems, too. What really seems to matter is not educational levels (grade levels or degrees) but intelligence. People tend to marry and stay married to people with similar IQ’s.

Class: yes, there are classes in America. Upper class people rarely marry people from the other side of the tracks. Country club types marry country club types. Ivy Leaguers marry Ivy Leaguers. The prince marrying the peasant girl is truly a fairy tale.

Religion: quite often people from different religions marry, but the couples who stay together and are happy together generally agree about most spiritual matters. So, here’s another compatibility tip: discussing religion and spiritual beliefs before the wedding will save you a lot of marriage problems.

Money: When rich marries poor, the marriage is over either when the money runs out, or when the wealthy partner does.

Family/children: to a very high degree, happy couples are in agreement about whether to have children, or how many to have.

So, happy couples in successful long-term relationships are not carbon copies of each other. Neither are they clones or mirror images. It’s the differences between partners that make the marriage interesting. But, when it comes to the major issues in a relationship, happily married couples are generally at a high level of agreement.

Take a look at your own relationship. Before you make any major commitments, be sure that you and your partner are in agreement over the big things. Then, viva la difference!


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