The adage that in love opposites attract is less and less relevant, according to science.
Many are the American series taking place in high school where the best student in the class falls in love with the bad boy in the last row, where the somewhat shy scientist ends up falling in love with a teenage girl who sucks in math. In popular and media culture , radically different people seem to come together through the power of love. Maybe you even know some couples who fit this description perfectly and whose relationship longevity is amazing.
For the BBC , Jessica Klein took an interest in this received idea. If it is complicated to go back to the exact origins of the adage, the journalist found traces of it in the work of sociologist Robert F. Winch . In 1954, he worked on the “search for complementarity in the selection of a partner” , this would mean, for example, that introverted people are more interested in extroverted people in order to be influenced by them. Ten years later, the work of psychologist Donn Byrne concludes the opposite: we would tend to appreciate a person who is unknown to us if we recognize in him qualities similar to ours.
In 2017, psychology professor Angela Bahn studied 1,500 couples and developed a system of statistical measures to determine whether the two partners are similar in behavior as well as in values, leisure activities or alcohol consumption. On average, they share 86% of the variables measured, without the duration of the relationship influencing the result.
She also discovers that it is at the level of personality that couples have the least similarities. By taking into account the “Big Five” or “ five great personality traits ” (openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neurosis) to measure personality , Bahn notes that certain assemblies are very rare or seem to work less: “ two people very dominants will find it difficult to get along, this is a place where complementarity or “the attraction of opposites” works. »
The same year, a survey by psychologist Youyou Wu suggests – thanks to the study of the Facebook profiles of 1,000 couples and 50,000 couples of friends – that opposites do not attract at all, even when it comes to personality.
Dating apps would even tend to accentuate this. In 2020, on Tinder, mentions of “ Black Lives Matter ” or BLM, a mark of support for the American anti-racist movement, were multiplied by 55 . These endorsements are often used to indicate that it is impossible for the person to date someone who does not support the movement.
In addition, the algorithms used by most of these applications bring people who share the same interests closer together . In 2016, at the time of the US presidential elections, several applications for Donald Trump voters were created. On OkCupid, by registering, you must complete a questionnaire which allows you to mention (if the person wishes) their political opinion , their interest in feminism, ecology, etc. ” The adage could well be on the way to obsolescence ,” says the journalist.
Sex, work, money… How to approach a complicated discussion?
You’ve been putting off talking to your boss about a possible raise for several months now . As with any type of important conversation , you’ve probably played and replayed the scenario in your head many times. However, it is impossible to throw yourself into the water. The Guardian therefore asked a slew of specialists if there were any techniques to easily launch these dreaded topics of conversation.
For “leadership coach” Denise Chilton , asking for a raise is a good example of a complicated discussion. “A lot of people think the stakes are higher when they’re talking to someone high up in the hierarchy , but why should that be the case?” she asks. In this particular situation, Chilton argues that the key is to believe in your abilities, and to show the value you add to your business.
Whatever the root of the problem, money matters are generally quite sensitive. As proof, reminding someone that they owe you a certain amount of money can be a daunting task. According to Marc Hekster, a clinical psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society, relying on online accounts can be a good idea. In this way, you can simply ask your interlocutor if he has the necessary information to send you what he owes you. A text message like “do you have my bank details?” can thus act as a booster shot.
Money is far from the only troublesome subject. Who hasn’t, for example, ever dreaded sending a dish that’s a little too salty to the kitchen … and upsetting the chef at the same time? The British newspaper turned to the main interested parties. “Be accommodating, never aggressive” suggests Mandy Yin, owner of Sambal Shiok restaurant in London. “Remember that servers are people. Don’t just say how bad it is, but give staff the opportunity to explain why.”
In the category “sensitive subjects”, we obviously find all questions related to sex . According to sex therapist Ammanda Major, the best way to tackle the topic is to do it “as a team” and never use an accusatory tone. Also, it is essential to know when to choose your moment: “Don’t have this conversation when you are in bed or when you are angry or upset ,” she advises. And most importantly, have this discussion in person.
Finally, you may have already asked yourself the question: how to decline an invitation without upsetting the person in front of you? For psychologist Marc Hekster, there’s no need to invent a complicated excuse: just be honest. “We all have busy lives and people understand that you can’t do everything ,” says the specialist.
If the topic you most avoid talking about isn’t on this list, you can check out the Guardian article.