Do Opposites Attract? 7 Benefits Of Dating Someone Different From You, According To Experts
Even though it makes sense to date some who's a lot like you, don't rule out the idea of dating someone who is your opposite, either. If your partner happens to have a different outlook on life, different personality traits, and even different interests, it can make for a fun and interesting relationship. And it might even make you a stronger couple, in a lot of ways, too.
Of course, you'll "still want to make sure you are aligned with someone who understands and values your core beliefs," Latasha Matthews, LPC, CPCS, CPLC, CAMS, an individual, couples, and family therapist, tells Bustle. "You also want to make sure that your non-negotiable items are not overlooked when establishing a relationship where opposites could be attractive. Core beliefs [...] could be areas that you might want to have some commonality in."
It might not work out, for example, if you don't define cheating in the same way. Or if you have a drastically different stance on finances. Or if you want different things in terms of life's biggest decisions, like marriage and kids. With the smaller stuff, though, dating your opposite can come with a surprising amount of benefits, experts say, including many of the ones listed below.
1. It Can Keep The Relationship Stable
Let's say your personality is naturally calm, while your partner tends to be more high-strung. It might seem as if this difference could be a bad thing, or lead to a lot of misunderstandings. And yet, bringing such drastically different traits into the relationship can actually be a good thing.
"You complement one another," Matthews says. "Your personalities vary so there could be a good balance that helps keep the relationship stable." If your partner is feeling overwhelmed or stressed, you can swoop in with your chill vibes and help them see things differently. And they can do the similar things for you, leading to a sense of overall stability.
2. It Can Help You Find Balance
Similarly, you may notice that you balance each other out. And that's because, when you combine opposite traits, you'll naturally help each other move closer to the middle, Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali, a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of The Zinnia Practice, tells Bustle. If you're truly polar opposites, you might learn to settle somewhere in between.
"Your partner can see things from a fresh perspective," Osibodu-Onyali says, and you'll also see things in a new light. "This is usually a positive," she says, "because the two of you can create great balance together."
3. You'll Teach Each Other New Ways Of Doing Things
"Oftentimes as people we think our way of doing things is the only way," Matthews says. "When you date someone who has a different mindset than yours it helps you learn and grow and navigate life through different lenses." And this can be applied to basically anything.
From how they approach arguments, to how they interact with others, and even how they take care of the apartment, watching your partner do it their way can be quite eye-opening. You can steal a few habits from each other and break out of old habits, all by being open to these new ideas.
4. You'll Learn How To Compromise
While dating your opposite can be fun, it can also be tough at times. But if you look for the underlying lessons you're both learning, you may start to feel like the difficult stuff is actually worth it.
For example, dating your opposite will "stretch your compromise muscle, because dating someone opposite will require continual compromise to honor both of your needs and preferences," Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed clinical psychologist and marriage counselor in Boulder, CO, tells Bustle.
Learning how to compromise will not only be good for your relationship, but it it's a skill that can seep on over to other areas of your life, making you more understanding person overall.
5. You'll Have New Experiences
It's not uncommon for folks to stick with what they know, and fall into patterns. But by dating your opposite, you may be able to break that cycle, all thanks to the new experiences you'll bring into each other's lives.
"Dating someone who is our opposite opens us to new ideas, experiences, and people," Elisa Robyn, PhD, a life coach with a PhD in educational psychology, tells Bustle. "We move from our typical and comfortable circle into a new world. Our mind expands and often we challenge our opinions and beliefs. This is much like traveling to new places." You really can learn a lot.
6. You'll Keep The Spark Alive
When you date someone who thinks exactly like you do, it doesn't always lead to the most exciting conversations, Matthews says. "However, when you date someone who thinks differently," she says, "you will always be on a journey to learn the person and appreciate the new ideas they bring to the relationship."
In some ways, that can help keep the spark alive, if you both use it to your advantage. After all, opposites tend to attract due to the mystery and the intrigue. And that can definitely keep things fun.
7. You'll Face Your Fears
When dating someone different than you, you might literally face some of your fears. "For example, maybe you thought you didn’t like going to the beach because you were afraid of going into the ocean but your partner grew up surfing, and going to the beach is important to them," Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, a licensed clinical psychologist based in New York, tells Bustle. "They may gently encourage you to confront your fears, try going with them, and you may be surprised to find that going into the ocean with them is a lot less scary and more fun than you had ever imagined."
Of course, it's not necessary to date someone who's your opposite in order to do these things, but it certainly can help. By remaining open-minded, you can learn a lot from each other, feel more balanced, and possibly even have a stronger relationship.