Sunday, June 19, 2011
If Opposites Attracts, What Does Like Do?
Everyone knows at least one person who is married to their polar opposite, a living example of opposites attracting. Why do opposites attract? When someone is so far out of your norm, you become curious. They are exotic, more like a movie star or an exchange student than a regular Joe. Their unusual habits, accent or appearance initially brings out the novelty seekers, but different isn’t always a good thing.
We love to hear stories about playboys who settle down with the girl next door. We usually only hear the first part of the story and don’t stay for the rest of the story where we’d have found out he settles down with about dozen girl next doors because they were so easy to fool. Many times when the hormones start calling we are not comparing shared backgrounds, too bad.
You have sports fiends dating academic types who have never watched a play-off game in their lives. When the first rush of lust wears off and Angela Readsalot looks at the ridiculous lump on her couch complete with foam cheese head screaming at the television, she swears off alcohol. You probably know more couples that are ill suited than couples that are well suited. Think about it for a minute. How did they get together? Most of you would think they fell in love and I would agree with you. Did it ever occur to you that it takes more than love to make a relationship work out? (I know I am committing romantic heresy by suggesting this.) We expect one word that stands for ephemeral feeling that can’t be touched to do all the work of a relationship. As my grandfather would say, that dog will not hunt.
So what do you do? In several countries, your parents engage in securing you an arranged marriage. This isn’t a little project either; a marriage broker or matchmaker is consulted. The first thing she does is take a personal history of the client finding out all her likes and dislikes. Not too unlike dating websites with a big exception, matchmakers are not only matching you on 27 connection points, but on almost every one, you can conceivably have. It doesn’t mean the arranged match will have all of them. I never had a date that met all my 27 connection points, either.
On a 20/20 special, I watched one Indian woman advertise for a man. Her ad was in about 10 pt. font and covered an entire newspaper page. It told her basic life story, the condensed version. It also stated what she was looking for in a man, including his financial prospects, and willingness to relocate to the United States. Just imagine how much online dating services would charge for that type of an ad.
In arranging the match, the brokers try to connect the people on similarities, not differences. If she is from a middle class family, then they look for a guy who is from a middle class family. If she is college educated, then they look for someone who is college educated. The similarities automatically bind them together when they don’t really know each other well in the beginning. I like dating someone with similarities because they can get me. They understand many things about my life without me explaining because they had such a similar life.
The problem with dating opposites is you don’t always agree with their lifestyles choices. Often what is normal to them just seems weird or wrong to you. You also spend a great deal of time explaining your life choices because they are so different from your date’s. Sometimes you feel forced to validate your own likes as if they needed validation. Worse is when you hide your own preferences and just go along with whatever your date wants…very bad precedent. So, you can see why people with similarities offer a degree of comfort.
Going back to the Indian woman, her parents interviewed the parents of hopeful prospects. The couple wasn’t even involved yet. Her parents picked out three men whom she met briefly on individual chaperoned dates to see if she liked any of them. She decided on one. The story picks up a year after their wedding with the bride confessing how much she loves her husband. Could this love have been obtainable by picking up a likely looking man at the country-western bar? It could happen if we’re talking movie plot lines.
Men, at least the honest ones, will tell you they select dates initially on appearance. A man will keep dating the same person because how she makes him feel as opposed to her appearance. A beautiful, but whiny girl will eventually find herself shelved by a confident man. One of the things a man might find attractive about a date is their shared background he doesn’t realize it though. The sense of normalcy and calmness is because of how much they are alike.
So how do similar people match up considering most believe opposites attract, I believe likes make for a stable relationship. You’re not busy re-inventing the wheel all the time because you’re both familiar with it.
I dated a man once who loved his family. I love mine, but he LOVED his. They always ate Sunday dinner together. He would look for opportunities every day to run over and see his brother and sister. He really enjoyed this. From my point of view, it was a form of torture listening to them talk about people I didn’t know and drink themselves into a maudlin stupor.
My preferred date would see his family only on major holidays. Before he went, he'd gird his loins because all the old stories would come into play. That would make more sense to me because that's my normal routine. I noticed no one put on their online dating profile: hates family reunions. I guess that would make them sound too anti-social, honest, but anti-social all the same.
When a couple with wildly different personalities unite for good…it could mean they are a lot more like than anyone suspected.