"I'm looking for someone with as many things in common as me."
-- Actual lines from women's online dating profiles
It's a question that has perplexed--if not flat-out flustered-- humankind since the very inception of civilized male/female attraction, isn't it?
Do people who are more ALIKE or more OPPOSITE ultimately attract each other?
And moreover, the deeper question: Are we more likely to succeed in a relationship with someone who is more ALIKE or more OPPOSITE to ourselves?
Well, anyone who is familiar with the famous Myers-Briggs personality inventory test knows that the claim that comes along with it is the happiest couples are almost always OPPOSITE personality types.
Meanwhile, it's readily apparent from how the folks over at eHarmony, for example, do business that they believe that LIKES attract.
So who's right and who's wrong here?
Here's my surprising answer: both and neither.
That's right. After lots of consideration of the issue at hand, I've arrived at the conclusion there is a grey area here that few, if any, people ever consider.
The truth is that in order for a man and a woman to be truly compatible in a relationship, they have to be alike in some ways and different in others.
Now, before you dismiss what I've just said as calling the whole thing a "toss up" and walking away from the dilemma, know this: How we and our female companions need to be alike and how we need to be different is not random (i.e. purely subject to whatever turns us on).
In fact, it's critically important to know how to sort this all out as you're evaluating women.
So then, let's elaborate a bit on what needs to be alike between you and a woman you're likely to have a great relationship with.
For starters, she's going to need to have the same core belief system (aka world view) as you do. For example, if she's devoutly Catholic and you're Agnostic, being opposite will likely be disastrous.
You just have to build your relationship on the same basic foundation. Know what I mean?
The two of you will also need to be in lock-step on ideas like whether or not you want kids (and if so, how to raise them), whether to stay up all night or be an early riser, what "relationship" means in your case (i.e. are you completely monogamous?) and whether to eat meat or not.
A myriad of examples could be given. But simply put, you and the woman of your dreams should be alike philosophically.
See how that makes sense?
So then, in what ways should your ultimate female companion be OPPOSITE from you?
Well, considering how unique human beings tend to be, the only way I know how to objectively describe that to you is by sharing some of the real-world ways My wife (Emily) and I are quite different.
For example, if you find us seated next to each other on a 14-hour flight (like we often are, it seems), I'll either be dreaming up my next program for you guys or writing the next newsletter.
Emily will probably be doing sudoku puzzles.
I'd rather watch paint dry than do sudoku puzzles.
Then again, Emily happily does the lion's share of our taxes every year, which is a great relief to me.
I can even see WHY she'd enjoy doing the taxes. They're sort of like sudoku puzzles, only with an actual sense of accomplishment as a result of completing them. Nice.
Meanwhile, I'm the one who always seems to dream up ways to get us to places like The Galapagos Islands instead of just watching footage of Blue Footed Boobies on the Travel Channel.
That's because I'm the "daydreamer" and she's the "pragmatic one" around here. As fortune would have it, there's a solid place in a good relationship for BOTH of those areas of specialization.
Similarly, when it comes to money Emily is an excellent saver, whereas I'm the one encouraging us to drop a buck here and there and "live a little". That makes for a nice balance.
I tend to be the one who doesn't procrastinate. She tends to keep the house in order better than I do.
She is excellent at keeping our son well fed and well behaved. I'm pretty good at building his dreams and strengthening his self-image.
When we travel, she figures out the details on how to get from the airport to our hotel. But when our flight actually lands and we pick up our luggage, I negotiate with the cab driver because I'm the "talker" in the family.
And together--what do you know--life runs like a well-oiled machine, at least most of the time.
That's because when it comes to mechanics (or "logistics", or "operations", if you prefer), we have a near perfect mix of completely opposite interests in that regard.
At this point, allow me to show you the other side of the coin so you can fully grasp the power of what I'm telling you here.
In your past, have you ever met a girl who you were so sexually hot for it was almost ridiculous, but you pretty much couldn't stand her?
I think you know what I'm talking about.
It wasn't that you "hated" her, per se. In fact, she intrigued you to no end.
It's just that she drove you nuts with the stuff she did, the things she said or the way she butted heads with you.
I can think of at least two from my own past who fit that description perfectly: Jenn and Dawn.
Man, I thought both of them were the most amazingly attractive female creatures to behold. BUT...simply being around either one of them was the most taxing experience imaginable otherwise.
Thankfully, although I knew both girls during my college years I didn't ever have to deal with them at the same time. Otherwise I may have completely lost my mind.
I remember Jenn and I had to work side by side all summer long one year. If I made any suggestion on how to get something done, she disagreed--usually with that irresistibly spunky attitude of hers in full effect and that decidedly naughty little smile beaming like the sun.
She wanted it done her way, which was usually preposterous.
Finally, one of our female peers had observed our ongoing extended verbal foreplay long enough and called out what was obvious to everyone except Jenn and I: "You know what's hilarious about you two? You're exactly alike."
"Oh, and get a room", she added.
Similarly, I remember during the summer when I was 18 coming home from date two or three with Dawn (who I had nicknamed "Goldilocks" because of her adorable cuteness combined with long, blonde natural curls) and complaining to my Dad about how this girl drove me stark raving crazy...but I just couldn't get enough of her.
In a manner as dry as Death Valley, my Dad responded with, "Yeah, well...you'll probably marry her."
Well, thank God I didn't marry either Jenn or Dawn.
As endearing as it must have been to others to witness my misadventures with those two, being driven insane all the time is no way to live.
When it comes to finding a great partner, it really is best to be with someone who wants to cover the logistical things you don't want to, and vice-versa.
Otherwise, you're likely to live the nightmare of an ongoing (and completely unfulfilling) power struggle.
What you really want is the perfect storm as opposed to a stormy relationship, see what I mean?
And yes...you absolutely, positively can and should still want to rip her clothes off, even though you actually get along with her.
Enough already. I think you get the point.
So then, before we wrap this all up it's important to acknowledge some of the areas that have NOT come up in this discussion.
For example, physical attraction has been completely left out of the mix on purpose here.
Having seen as many couples who look like brother and sister as who look dramatically different from one another, I believe it's reasonable to conclude that personal tastes, biology, pheromones
and/or whatever else you care to throw into the potion all conspire to cause physical attraction between two people.
Whether couples who get along fine look alike or different from one another appears to be of little consequence, ultimately.
On the other hand, it's safe to say that what comprises masculinity will always be attracted to whatever it is that femininity is composed of and vice-versa...as we've discussed around here at great length in other newsletters.
More masculine men will favor more feminine women. Meanwhile, "centrists" in this regard somehow always end up together also, don't they? (Although I cringe to think what their sex life is like...if you can even actually refer to it as such.)
And what of the age-old idea of "common interests" that we seem to cling to as a sacred cow in the dating world?
Here's the deal: If you and your main squeeze share some favorite foods, pastimes and/or bands...great. If not, introduce each other to some new and cool things and enrich each other's lives in the process.
Either way, life is good. In fact, you might be shocked by how little "common interests" have to do with overall compatibility.
But make no mistake. It's all-important to make sure that someone you're in a long-term relationship with shares your core belief system philosophically while complementing you in practical ways.
And practically speaking, that "completes" this conversation.
Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below!