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Do opposites really attract?

The+idea+that+opposites+attract+is+problematic.+By+perpetrating+this+idea%2C+we+open+the+door+for+all+sorts+of+toxic+relationships.%09
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Do opposites really attract?

The idea that opposites attract is problematic. By perpetrating this idea, we open the door for all sorts of toxic relationships.

The idea that opposites attract is problematic. By perpetrating this idea, we open the door for all sorts of toxic relationships.

The idea that opposites attract is problematic. By perpetrating this idea, we open the door for all sorts of toxic relationships.

The idea that opposites attract is problematic. By perpetrating this idea, we open the door for all sorts of toxic relationships.


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The idea that someone is drawn to their opposite has always annoyed and confused me. It seems so illogical and impractical. Why would there be such an attraction?

Granted, there’s something to be said to complementary strengths. Not everyone can be good at everything, so having someone you’re close to who can support those weak spots is great. That’s the point of teamwork.

Of course, being too similar can create an equal problem. “We are each our worst critic” is another popular phrase, and if we are so critical of our flaws, how would we react to others with the same trait? Maybe we’ll be less critical of the flaw altogether; maybe not.

But what it really comes down to is this: how do these traits align? Maybe they are similar. Maybe they aren’t. Perhaps with a certain set of traits, the difference is a great thing. You cover their weak points, they cover yours. Others, though, should be more similar if the relationship is going to work at all. Otherwise, you have two people headed in opposite directions when it comes to life choices, responsibilities and development. That’s going to cause problems.

But I think that many of us don’t always get this idea of opposite traits right. It’s a common thing to see in stories: two characters with completely opposite traits fall in love. Usually they only have one thing in common; sometimes, not even that. But the viewers accept it as logical because of this well-known adage. They even think it’s romantic that they can “overcome” the differences. They believe that a relationship “completes” them, and thus, logically, someone with the opposite traits would complete them the best. Worse, they sometimes believe it so thoroughly that they accept it in reality as well.

There are a lot of people who believe that if someone has issues, all they need is someone who loves them to be in their life and “fix” them. That makes it really easy to encourage toxic relationships. We think or say things like “if only I had been more [fill in the blank with the appropriate phrase], this person wouldn’t be/do [fill in with another appropriate phrase].” We blame ourselves or others for still-existing problems that are not ours to resolve. We can only be a support, not the answer.

I think this ties into the idea our culture has that love will fix all our problems, and that a relationship is the ultimate goal in life. We have this idea that finding a significant other will somehow make us more than we were before.

What is more important is simply having any type of relationship in which we are supported and can support in turn. If your friends fill that role, wonderful. If your family does, great. If it’s a significant other, awesome. If it’s any combination of these, spectacular. The point is this: find people who have your back, whether similar to you or not, and face your issues head on. They’ll support you, and you’ll support them. Forget these old sayings that mean nothing. Forget the idea that someone can “complete” you.

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Do opposites really attract?