If you're anything like me, the whole "opposites attract" thing is semi-ridiculous in the sense that, like, I dunno, why? Why do they attract? Why is that a thing? I mean, I get it in terms of, I dunno, magnets and puzzles and shit, but with people? In my mind, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The idea that two people with different personalities and different likes/dislikes can be more compatible than two people who are alike.. I mean, what? And how "opposite" do people have to be from each other for it to not end in total disaster? When is different too different?
Science and smart people unanimously agree that opposites do, in fact, attract.
Initially, emotionally-giving types are drawn to emotionally-reserved types because they like to, "elicit affection from someone who doesn't express it easily." In turn, emotionally-reserved types reciprocate this attraction because, beyond the surface, most of them need and want to be drawn out, hugged, held, kissed, emotionally smothered, etc (okay, maybe not that last one..). However, over time the giver runs the risk of appearing too needy and the reserved type reacts by pulling away. This makes the giver give even more, in order to elicit affection, and the reserved one to back away further. Basically, it can be kind of a bitch dating your polar opposite.
But must this be the end of your relationship?
In psychology, the various ways in which people relate to one another is called "attachment style", something which is partly learned and partly genetic (so you can totally blame your parents for everything). Dr. Levine, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Columbia University, identifies three types of attachment styles: Secure, Anxious and Avoidant.
Let me break that down for you in a totally non-sciencey way.
Secure Attachment: makes up for more than half of the population. Characterized by a warm disposition and being comfortable with intimacy within a romantic relationship. You know that couple who are locking lips and holding hands all the freaking time? Yeah, this is them.
Anxious Attachment: makes up for 20% of emotional givers. Unlike people with secure attachment style, anxious types often worry that their partner's feelings aren't as strong or enduring as their own, and often fear betrayal.
Avoidant Attachment: emotionally reserved types tend to belong to this attachment style group (25%). Avoidant types associate intimacy with a loss of independence and/or freedom and will minimize closeness with another person as much as possible.
So, now what? Does that mean secure types need to stick to secure types and anxious types with other anxious types? And opposites do attract, but will ultimately lead to disaster and dying alone?
Nope. The good news is that attachment style can change. According to Dr. Levine, displays of affection don't always have to be 50-50, as long as both partners are doing something, "each partner will need to make some slight movements in the opposite direction from which they are comfortable." Attachment styles are flexible and emotional awesomeness often lies somewhere in between the ideals of each person.
Basically, opposites can (and do) attract, but at the end of the day you gotta learn how to compromise. But we already knew that. Thanks for nothing, Science.