There's A Reason Opposites Attract: Why It's Difficult To Date Someone Too Much Like Yourself
After what seems like eons of dating incompatible weirdos who just didn’t “get” you, you’ve finally found “the one.” It feels great to be dating someone who agrees with you on just about every point — one whose sensibilities and personality mirror your own — you guys are just like peas and carrots.
It’s fulfilling, and it is peaceful not to find yourself arguing constantly about the most basic of things — going out vs. staying in, Mexican vs. sushi. But, the problem with dating someone so much like you that you agree on almost all points is that the two of you agree on almost all points.
If you’re anything like me, you glean a lot of life advice from “30 Rock.” For about half a season, Liz Lemon dates an airline pilot played by Matt Damon, and she’s delighted to be with someone who’s so similar to her — they never argue, they like take out from the same place and they both have a fondness for “The Barefoot Contessa.”
But, following a standoff on a flight that was grounded for an eternity in which their mutual unrelenting stubbornness effectively ends the relationship (and the flight), Liz realizes that if two partners are too much alike, no amount of similarities will resolve the unwillingness to compromise. She calls it "the double-edged sword of dating yourself."
At first, I found this whole thing just a convenient plot device to write Matt Damon out of the show but then, I started dating myself — the male version of myself, anyway — and Liz Lemon began to take on a special level of relatability. I quickly saw that a mutual unwillingness to compromise is not the only thing that can complicate a relationship between two eerily similar partners.
Here’s what I mean:
Never Leaving Your Comfort Zone Becomes The Norm
I am, by and large, an introverted person but I still love people, bars, drinking and socializing. I found when dating someone who is equally as introverted as I am made me more likely to stay in my comfort zone — my apartment. I stayed home for almost entirety of the relationship and regressed into an even more introverted state than before, as I was never motivated to depart too far from my comfort zone.
The opposite could be said to be true as well — introverted or extroverted, we all need someone to remove us from our comfort zones. At first, it felt like a relief to find someone that was as content as I was to sit at home drinking Bailey’s and dissecting the existentialism of Ke$ha lyrics. But around the three-month mark, I just wanted to get the f*ck out of my apartment. That was easier said than done because I quickly realized we were stuck in a rut.
Stuck In A Rut With No One To Pull You Out
Comfort zones are basically the product of set patterns of doing things. Dating someone who has the same patterns and the same comfort zones as you can be just that — comforting. But, it can also lead to the dreaded relationship rut where, due to already having similar ways of doing things, neither of you is capable of leading the other out of the rut.
On the other hand, for example, say that you hate pineapple on pizza. Or, at least you think you do. But, your partner disagrees and encourages you to try it, “Just once! Please! You might like it!” You try it, and strangely you do like it and then, BOOM, suddenly something you thought you hated becomes one your new faves. Now, consider the pineapple-on-pizza metaphor in the context of things that happen during sexy time. Or that it’s traveling abroad. Or it’s marathon training. Whatever, you get the picture.
Common ground is crucial, but too many similarities can lead to stagnation, especially when it comes to braving new experiences, both in pizza toppings and in the bedroom. And, if you want to get out of a rut or avoid being in one altogether, at least one partner has to be capable of introducing the other to new and interesting ways of doing things.
In other words, getting out of a relationship rut requires having a partner who does not sycophantically agree with everything we do and want and more having a partner whose nature challenges our long-held notions and routines.
You Are The Enabler To Each Other's Faults
I can be lackadaisical, a bit of a procrastinator, easily enabled into demotivation — I’m sure many of you can relate. My Matt Damon was naturally very similar-minded. Like Liz and Matt, who found themselves locked in a stalemate of so-similar pride and stubbornness, I found myself locked in a stalemate of procrastination and dicking around. It was fun. It was easy. But, it was also detrimental to our respective progress as individuals. I imagine this is the same enabling, repetitive cycle in which alcoholics or drug addicts who date each other find themselves.
Additionally, my Matt Damon was a bit needy. So, at times when I tried to break the cycle, instead of my partner saying, “Yes, you should def get to your spinning class today — I need to go work on my resume,” he’d say, “Nah, let’s go to brunch.” Even outside of the conversation about dating someone too much like you, we all need and deserve partners who support us but also challenge us.
Challenge us to try new things, challenge us to think critically about issues in new and thoughtful ways, challenge us to deviate from our norms and challenge us to work toward our goals, even if our goals might take us away from said partner. We all deserve a challenging partner but a partner that mirrors you isn’t necessarily a partner who will challenge you...
Mirroring Partner Vs. Complementary Partner
If your politics lean kind of far to the left or right, it’s probably best for you to find a partner who is similarly liberal or conservative. If you’re super religious, you will probably not be putting a ring on an atheist. In these aspects, it’s definitely best to find someone whose mindset mirror your own. But in other aspects of personality, it’s better to find someone whose nature complements yours rather than mirrors it.
If you can be a bit flaky, you might want a partner who is more dependable, whose steadiness can complement or make up for your flakiness. If you have trouble being assertive in confrontational situations, finding a partner who encourages assertiveness might be best for you. If you tend to take life very seriously and don’t find a lot of time for “fun” activities, finding a partner who complements your seriousness with a bit of goofiness might be what’s best for you.
Photo credit: HBO/Entourage