So which is it: Do opposites attract or do birds of a feather flock together? When selecting a mate, is it better to be with someone who has the same interests and ideas as we do? Or is it better to be with someone who has opposite interests and ideas?
Ideally, the best solution for long-term compatibility is a happy medium.
Finding someone with some of the same hobbies gives us the opportunity to share experiences. We also develop memories and provide bonding topics to talk about.
“Remember that time we went beach combing in Tofino and then roasted marshmallows before running naked into the wild surf? Bae! *sigh* I love you.”
We need to do enough things with our partner so that we feel we have a partner and that our partner is our best friend.
On the other hand, having differing interests that express our autonomy, gives us something to talk about when we’re together.
“Hey, Sweets, I can’t wait to tell you about my [motorcycle] road trip with the guys! I miss you!!”
In addition to giving us something to share with the other person, having our own interests also provides the necessary challenge, or tension, that keeps the spark alive in a relationship.
What do I mean by challenge?
The challenge, which both men and women need to sustain a healthy long-term relationship, is the idea that we are attracted to our partner by the distance between us.
We are most attracted to our partner, as noted by renowned relationship author Esther Perel, in the times when we are a short distance away from our partner and able to see them the way others do.
Example 1: At a party, we see our partner engaging and laughing with a group―being valued by those people. We therefore tend to value our partner more and be more attracted to them.
Example 2: At an event, we see our partner on stage giving an impressive speech. We become more impressed and attracted to them.
In other words, we tend to be most attracted to our partner when we see them as how we originally saw them, either before we met them or when we were getting to know each other―that early relationship stage when we were amorously intrigued by them.
As well, when we do things together, but we have a slight physical distance, we can re-experience our partner shining like they did when we first met them.
By doing things separately, we more readily imagine being back in that scenario.
When our partner does things on their own, there’s always the slight risk they’ll meet someone interesting and/or intriguing of the opposite sex.
Even when we have trust and loyalty with our partner, when they are meeting potential other mates―whether in actuality or in our conscious or subconscious imagination―our intrigue of them is elevated and can give us the incentive to impress our partner and not take them for granted.
Note: Never never never use autonomy to try to make your partner jealous. That doesn’t build attraction; it tears down trust and intimacy. Bad dog.
When I was married (many moons ago), my husband and I spent all of our time together. I think this is completely unhealthy and risks codependency. We enjoyed each other’s company and did a lot of the same things, but after many years, it got boring. I didn’t have the opportunity to see my partner the way I’d seen him when I fell in lust with him―from across that crowded bar, when I found him drunk and slumped over the table amongst empty beer bottles. I sure can pick ’em!
It’s much easier to keep the spark alive and embers burning than to try and re-ignite a charred log covered with burnt marshmallow bits.
It’s also important when choosing a partner to know what our deal-makers and deal-breakers are and to have a compatible long-term vision.
Example 1: One person wants to travel the world in five years after working hard. The other person wants to take short vacations every three months while working less now.
Example 2: One person wants to retire to a tropical island and drink mojitos all day. The other can’t stand the feeling of sand in her toes or potentially catching foot fungus from contaminated sand! (It so could happen.)
p.s. If you’re over 35 and I catch you using the term of endearment “bae” (formerly known as “babe” for the 40‒50 crowd or “baby” if you’re over 50), I will smack you.
p.p.s. That was a trick! If I hear you use the term “bae,” you’ll get a cuff regardless. Seriously, people, don’t be so damn lae! (Lazy.)
Vancouver Matchmaker and Dating, Love and Relationship Expert