12 Jul 2017
Not long ago, I found myself glued to a segment on the local evening news. The story being covered pertained to the increase in break-ups and divorce due to political differences. Today’s political environment has, not surprisingly, made political debate within relationships particularly toxic. The dating coach interviewed for the broadcast commented that people “look for excuses” for things not to work out and disagreeing about politics is just that: an excuse.
Well, perhaps the reporter and the love coach should take a look at a recent study out of the University of Kansas and Wellesley College, which has upended the long-presumed notion that opposites attract – finding that like-minded couples can expect to be happier over time. This may be useful information for those who think we should be seeking the yin to our yang.
So if you’re about to embark on a new relationship or one rife with conflict, consider this study, which found that people do not change each other over time. Couples who had been together longer were no more similar than pairs who had more recently met.
Says a KU professor of psychology involved in the study, “You try to create a social world where you’re comfortable, where you succeed, where you have people you can trust and with whom you can cooperate to meet your goals.”
The study data also revealed that the closeness of two people in a relationship was not determined by their length of time together but, rather, was a function of their similarities. Differences in attitudes, values, personality traits and behaviors are likely to persist.
Getting along with people who are not like you is healthy; they introduce you to new ideas, different beliefs and views of the world. But the people we are immediately drawn to – whether meeting them in a movie line, at a party, or at work – are those who are most similar to us.
So creating friendships and relationships with like-minded people – including shared attitudes about politics – where there’s less need to adapt your opinions for the sake of getting along, generally makes for a happier situation in the long run.[What’s been your experience? Are your most successful relationships with ‘similar’ people or not? Do you avoid certain discussions with friends or partners?]