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Marina Edelman, MFTI
Ms. Edelman's Weblog

Do Opposites Attract?

Marina Edelman, MA Updated: Sep 22nd 2010

We all want to find love. But do we know a compatible mate when we see them or should we smell them? Do opposites really attract? Don’t we want someone with similar outlook on life and common interests?

ying and yang symbolIn the past research has shown that as we fall in love, our brains experience a rise in dopamine and our sympathetic nervous system gets aroused as our blood pressure goes up. Simultaneously we begin to blush, feel butterflies in our bellies and become week in the knees. By discussing personal matter and maintaining eye contact we accelerate this feeling of arousal. A new dating site is taking sexual chemistry to a new level by asserting that through DNA samples a better match can be made. Are they on to something? Recently a TV show called Dating in the Dark asked three women participants to smell the recently worn shirts of their three male counterparts and identify who they were drawn to. Does the nose know more than the eyes? A woman may be able to smell a man’s gene pool origins or major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes. Researchers have found that most people tend to be attracted to individuals who possess body odors that are unlike their own natural smell. An exception to that is a woman who is on the pill, her sense of smell changes and can therefore manipulate what scents she finds appealing.

So is this where the notion “opposites attract” comes from? Maybe, various studies concluded that couples with different personality characteristics, attachment styles and sexual preferences were significantly more satisfied with their relationships. For example take two extroverts, each one having a need to share or talk over the other can wreak havoc in a relationship.

Similar outlooks on politics and religion turn out to be poor predictors of relationship success, which may help explain why Mary Matalin and James Carville have managed to stay married through both Clinton and Bush years.

Maybe one should look introspectively. At least one study has suggested that it’s not so much the other person’s personality as it is yours. Happy people tend to be happy in relationships. The lovers and spouses of people who are optimistic in their outlook and behavior tend to be more satisfied, too.


Marina Edelman, MA

Marina Edelman, M.A., is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern in private practice in Westlake Village, CA. Her specialty is working with couples and individuals facing mood disorders, excessive worry, money issues, and relationship problems. She facilitates a free women in transition support group in her office every Monday at noon. Ms. Edelman is available for private psychotherapy and can be reached directly through her website or by email at If you are interested in mental health updates please follow her tweets.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

not always - Daniel - Oct 1st 2010

Opposits doesn't always attract but if you beleive in that theory, what can I say, I just don't think it's boilogical.

!! - - Sep 22nd 2010

very interesting!

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