Finding a soul mate looks pretty straight forward on the big screen; meet someone in a chance encounter, frustratingly clash at first, fast forward a few months and realise actually, it’s not hate, it’s love!
But why does it always seem so much harder in real life?
Quite possibly because the ‘opposites attract’ virtue that is embedded within our culture is setting us up for failure from the beginning. For so long we’ve been taught that the classic line “we are so different” is a good thing (with special help from hundreds of cheesy romantic comedies).
For decades literature suggested that relationships were all about exchange and men and women were both searching for different things in partners. Traditionally, we’ve assumed men place greater importance on physical attractiveness, because they need to spread their seed. Whilst women desire a partner with the ability to acquire and provide resources in order to raise young.
So the ‘opposites attract’ notion moved beyond biology and become an enduring myth embedded in our culture.
Recent studies however, are challenging this and suggesting that actually, alike people attract!
Men are often stereotyped as preferring multiple partners to spread their seed but surprisingly research is finding that more and more men desire long-term relationship commitment with a single partner as opposed to several short-term uncommitted empty relationships.
Self psychology, a modern psychoanalytic theory that understands individuals from within their own experience, backs up the new mates assortative research. The self-psychological theory of ‘twinship’ maintains that we all need people to be a reflection of our self at times. In fact we are not that comfortable with difference. This basic human need stems from an early childhood desire to feel that you are “like” your mum and dad. The theory suggests we all need some reassurance that the people we love are like us in some key ways. It’s very validating when we are like ‘twins’ at times. This reinforces that we are normal and the same as the rest of the tribe.
So if you want to be happy in your relationship, you first need to be aware of your assets, because the best partner for you is someone who shares important similarities with you. Similar education, values, similar religion, economic background, similar goals etc.
So when you start to get serious about someone, take stock, how different is this person to me?
As you hit late 20’s be conscious of investing in your future and considering whether your values align with the person you are dating. After all no one wants to end up unhappily married, with children realising you’ve made a big mistake!
Maybe re-think who you invite into your life. After all, current wisdom suggests you don’t have be that drastically opposite after all!