Not inhibited by common sense, medical statisticians messed up again
We all know that opposites attract. Not for everyone, everything, and always, but often enough for everyone to notice. Now, ‘science’ disagrees.
The first proof is odd couples, which seem a rule rather than an exception. The tall person with the short one; the fat person with the thin one; the smart person with the dumb one; the fun person with the dull one; the talkative person with the silent one; the strong person with the weak one; the old person with the young one; the rich person with the poor one; etc.
Physicians know this. They call it ‘negative partner choice.’ Not because it’s negative. To the contrary. Tall and short parents hooking up makes the height of their offspring stays somewhat under control. I know two very tall people who got kids. Their first two ones are giants. Their third child has a growth hormone deficiency. Genetics needs diversity; it does.
The Rabbis also know that opposites in character traits need each other. Marriage is not only to be comfortable but also to balance each other.
Sociologists in Israel no longer can tell Arab and Western Jews apart because of the high degree of intermarriage between Jews of all cultures. And we didn’t need busing to get there, in 120 years of modern Zionism.
As an overview, here are some opposing extremes that enrich and help partners to be amazed at, learn from, and balance each other:
- Mild and forgiving/stern and principled
- Bold, confident, open-minded/conservative, cautious, doubting
- Calm and stable/nervous and vulnerable
- Optimistic and relaxed/pessimistic and concerned
- Mover and adventurous/home bird, happy to stay at home
- Modest, small ego and flexible/big ego and stubborn
- Liking routine and stability/liking change and upheaval
- High/low sex drive and frequency of sex.
Yet, of course, couples should not be each other’s opposites in everything. That would be unworkable. Here are traits that when shared diminish suffering for one or both partners and may save the relationship:
- Saintly/more wicked
- Responsible/more irresponsible
- Knowing what one wants/open to anything
- Honest/more dishonest
- Generous and empathic/more self-centered
- Respectful/more coercive
- Sensitive/more insensitive
- Pleasant/more unpleasant
- Sense of humor/more dull
- Love for closeness and intimacy/more cold and distant
- Night owl, evening person/lark, early bird, morning person.
Other helpful things to share are the same language, culture, and bed.
Yet, some relationships survive because they have no common language to fight in or hardly see each other by day and/or night. No to one size fits all.
The scientists I mentioned above noticed that most qualities are shared. Small wonder. Only when most things are similar do opposites attract.
For most people, most potential issues are shared. So, in the statistics, you find that people almost always partner with their (almost) identicals. Which few things exactly differ also varies widely, making it invisible in the stats. Another statistical bias is they only compared partners and ignored ex-partners. They could have shown what qualities don’t work in couples. In any case, a healthy dose of common sense should have told them that their conclusion proves they made a wrong turn somewhere.
NB: The JPost writes the study looked at 22 traits. That’s strangely few. But in truth, it even considered 133 traits. Part of it was another statistical disaster from the UK Biobank, as I warned against before. Nature Human Behavior articles are peer-reviewed but not spell-checked.