Opposites Attract, But Can They Go the Distance?

Dear Anthony,

I’ve recently started dating a girl who everyone says is wrong for me. They don’t like that I broke up with a girl who seemed perfect for me in order to date this girl I’m seeing now.  I keep telling people opposites attract just to get them off my back.  But honestly, I have no idea why I’m interested in her.  I can understand why my family think she’s wrong for me.  I just can’t help it.  Did I make a huge mistake I’m going to regret?

Did you make a mistake because the other girl was a better suitable marriage partner for you?  Maybe.  But that’s not going to be easy to answer.  For more reasons, I’m sure, than what may be obvious to others, and maybe even yourself, you want to see this new girl instead of continuing the relationship with your ex-girlfriend.

I’m not sure the question is, “Did I make a mistake?” You might want to ask yourself why you broke up with the one and are dating the other.  Being honest with yourself will help you learn more about why you make the choices you do.

Worrying about what others think can be a distraction.  Appreciate the advice and feedback of those you love, and do consider it (often loved ones can see things we can’t), but don’t let it make you feel guilty or second guess yourself.

I find your situation interesting.  You broke up with someone whom your loved ones think is best for you.  Now you’re dating someone who seems to make no sense to these loved ones.  But, it makes no sense to you, either.  You’re right in telling them that opposites attract, and that might be your situation.

We hear an awful lot about compatibility today.  Marriage experts emphasis it, dating sites program algorithms to match your compatibility while searching members, and in general, people talk about wanting to meet someone with whom they have much in common.

Yet there’s still the reality that opposites attract.  Despite all the emphasis on finding someone who is similar to you, many people are attracted to (and often marry) someone who is their opposite.

Often, it’s a completely unconscious happening, but maybe even despite your mind acknowledging that this is someone wrong for you, you can’t help the attraction. What is it about someone who is our opposite that can be so appealing?

One obvious answer is intrigue. This person is not your type.  There’s something about them that puzzles you. You have to learn more.  You might even detest how different they are, yet you’re drawn to them like some kind of magnet.

Intrigue is a powerful lure when it comes to attraction. When something is different than what we are used to, it’s hard to resist acting on curiosity.  From that curiosity comes interest, and from interest comes attachment.

The most intriguing thing about the person is how interested they are in you, despite you realizing there is nothing about you and your life that makes sense as to why they are interested.

So two different worlds collide.  The result is an experience of each other’s worlds blending together.  The time you spend is interesting and exciting because just about everything you share is new to both of you, or something you would have never thought to do and would probably never enjoy doing.

The question is, how long will the intrigue last before the questions of practical life for the future begin playing a role?  And will what started out as intrigue successfully find a way to become a fusion of two lives becoming one life that both are happy living?

Sometimes, what a person initially loved about the other because it was different later becomes something annoying or tiresome because it’s something that deep down bothers you or you don’t like, but you’ve tried to like it or accept it.

Opposites are also tricky in the area of how things are done in everyday life.  For example, if you are very conscientious about spending money and like to save,  you might be attracted to someone who has a care-free approach to spending. This leads to doing all kinds of things while you’re dating that you wouldn’t have done normally. In marriage, you might later be frustrated at this person because he or she has caused your family to have serious credit card debt.

Plenty of marriages take place between two opposites.  The successful ones are two people who truly loved the other for who they are in all their opposite-ness, and find a way to incorporate these differences into everyday life as a team effort.  The unsuccessful ones are two people who stopped seeing the differences as delightful, are sick of them, and now want the other to change.

It’s the one of the most natural things in the world to want to share your life with someone who understands you and approaches life as you do.  It does make things easier.  For marriage, the more you are on the same page, the better for all the practical things that make up daily family life, as well as for the path to eternal life.

What you need to be most attracted to are the qualities and abilities the other has that render them able to love , serve as a spouse and parent, and seek the highest good in all situations with God as the author and center of truth, navigating the journey of this world toward the next.

Anthony Buono is the author of Would You Date You? and founder of Avemariasingles.com. For thousands of Catholic singles, Anthony offers guidance, humor, understanding, and practical relationship advice.  Visit his blog at 6stonejars.com

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