24 Jul 2012

Why Do Implausible (opposites attract) Relationships Work?

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One of the many inexplicable aspects of human relationships is the unlikely or implausible couple. We are all familiar with the age gap problem and the implausibility we feel when the age gap between a couple is too great.

But while this is a visible odd couple, there are many and much more common pairings all around us. Sometimes we get a glimpse of one of these couples in action, or we happen to have one of them in our circle of friends and relatives.

They make for very interesting, if sometimes frustrating, study. Knowing some of the types of mismatched couples may help us answer the big question – why are they apparently successful?

Orderly and Disorderly
This is the most recognizable implausible couple in our culture, because it has been celebrated in TV and the movies – the best example being the Odd Couple, of course.

But they weren’t married or in a romantic relationship, which seems even more unbelievable but it happens. One person seems to have no sense of concern for anything being out of place – dirty clothes aren’t picked up, garbage and debris is left out on the coffee table, dishes are left dirty for another day, and so on.

Usually these attitudes extend into the unseen but very much present realm as well – unpaid bills, lack of interest in healthy lifestyles, inability to maintain other relationships,and so on. The other person in this couple is orderly, almost obsessively so, and can’t stand to see anything out of place or messy.

In his or her personal life, order rules too – cards are always sent on time, bills are paid, and relationships are maintained. To see these two disparate kinds of people together is a true marvel of human behavior.

Controlling and Accepting
One member of the couple appears to have complete control over the other one, in all the little things that can be seen (clothing, tastes in music, and books, activities), and in unseen ways as well.

A domineering personality and an accepting, docile one often find each other and form a bond. While most often the dominant member is the male, it is also fairly common that the woman is in charge – hence the cliche of the milk-toast husband, completely under the wife’s sturdy thumb.

The submissive person in this pairing often has no friends, and seemingly no life outside the relationship, but the dynamic is evident to others in their lives.

The Fighters
These people seem to have come together and to have stayed together for the sole purpose of arguing. They never agree on anything, and one delights in taking the opposite point of view of the other whenever possible.

There are 2 types of this couple – the quiet ones, and the public ones. The latter have no qualms about fighting in front of others – in fact it seems to excite them somehow and they enjoy an audience.

The quiet ones exhibit some passive-aggressive behavior around others, only to let loose when they are behind closed doors. They may be alike in every other way, but they look for things to fight about, and do it often

Glass Half Full, Glass Half Empty
One of the most implausible couples is the pairing of the optimist and the pessimist. Both feel free to express their opinions and feelings, and where one is cheery and looking on the bright side, the other sees nothing but doom and destruction.

They may argue about their differences, but often the important thing is to express themselves, and to make sure each one knows the other one’s view of his or her stance.

Meet My Needs – or Else
Members of all of these couples have something in common – they meet a need in each other. They may be righting some childhood wrong, they may be reliving a former failed relationship, or they may be trying to rectify bad parenting through the other and the relationship.

They may feel delight in the challenges represented by the other person and have hopes of changing him or her in the long run. Some see themselves as incomplete and feel that they have to have an opposite to become real and fulfilled.

The reasons are as varied as the people in these implausible couples, but one thing is for sure – it’s true that opposites attract, but no one said anything about for how long. If the needs of a person in these complicated couples aren’t met satisfactorily, the couple won’t last. They are only apparently successful because failure is right around the corner.


Grace Pamer is a full time romance and relationship writer. She writes romance and marriage proposal tip columns for various publications including YourTango.com and GalTime.com. As seen on FoxNews.com, Cosmopolitan.com, DivineCaroline.com and CanadianLiving.com to name but a few.

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2 Responses to “Why Do Implausible (opposites attract) Relationships Work?”

  1. Reply Rosemary says:

    I think a lot of these kinds of couples are caught in what i have heard referred to as “neurotic interlock”. The unhealthy part of one person’s personality reinforces the unhealthy part of the other person’s personality. For example, the submissive person may see herself as worthless and ineffectual, and this is confirmed by the domineering person’s treatment of her. Fighters may believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong, or that compromise is a sign of weakness rather than strength (no matter how trivial the issue). People are often more psychologically comfortable when their beliefs and habits are reinforced, even when those beliefs and habits are counterproductive, than they would be if they had to make changes in themselves.

    • Reply admin says:

      Indeed Rosemary. There are a lot like that who simply stay in their mould almost of codependence. But then I also know some beautiful couples who are totally at odds personality wise but who thrive off their differences. One couple in particular literally only share a sense of humor in common but that is all they need to get through.

      Thanks for the comment and continued support.

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