Like magnets or Disney fairytale characters, tales of love are often built on the foundation that opposites attract. Romance exists on this very bedrock, where in heterosexual relationships the man and woman exist at opposite ends of the spectrum. One a picture of gentlemanly behaviour and the other a flirtatious recipient. In the Tinder age it’s no wonder we pine after distant lovers and look for an ideal partner who offers something beyond our own personality. But researchers have found that in fact we’re attracted to similar personalities more than opposites, making the Disney romance ideal nothing but a storybook tale.
We Want One Thing, Do The Other
Fret not, you’re not looking for a carbon copy of yourself to love, but what’s unique about this study is the collection method. Using digital footprints instead of self reported data the behavioural scientists found interesting results. We often say we want one thing, but then we do the opposite. Basic human need dictates we seek validation of our own world view (hello Facebook news bubble) and look for someone who shares those same values instinctively. Reviewing the online behaviour of 45,000 individuals the research showed that similar people based on likes and wording in posts, those who acted similarly were more likely to be romantically involved.
Professor Viren Swami of Anglia University upon finding herself single decided to investigate the surrounding sociology adding that “despite what many people think, opposites very rarely attract. In fact, decades of research has shown that attraction is most likely to be sparked when two people perceive themselves as being very similar to each other.”
We Prefer Similar Traits, But Not Too Similar
Why do we like similar types of people? Well it’s rather expansive, from age, education level, occupational background (work romance), social class, musical tastes to political background. It’s rather comforting to feel at ease to express your views and opinions and in the delicate dance that is romantic relationships common ground is all but essential.
The research showed that too much similarity is a bad thing too, because of another pesky human behaviour – you know the one where we want to grow and expand and better ourselves. Interestingly, 80% of people believe opposites attract, when in fact similarity is what brings us closer together, shared passion points and similar positions on issues. Opposites attracting is in fact a myth, something psychologists have been trying to tell us for years. But thanks for our penchant for bad boys and overbearing women respectively, we dutifully ignore their insight and seek excitement.
Distance Is Bloody Vital
Another key indicator of likelihood to love? Sheer proximity. If you’re looking to get close with someone, then being within physical reach is an obvious plus. About half of romantic relationships are born of people who live near each other in fact, sorry long distance lovers. Professor Swami agrees noting that “after all, the point of online dating is eventually to meet someone offline – and it costs more time and money to meet someone who lives further away. ”
So next time your swiping in pursuit of your one true love or perhaps a companion for the evening, look for someone you can see a little of yourself in rather than your polar opposite. Trust us. And the science behind it of course.