Have you ever heard the saying ” Birds of a feather flock together”? Well I’m sure this is true for birds but what about people, especially couples. I think most of us would agree that we all seem to gravitate toward people that are similar to us. You should choose someone who likes the same sports, activities and general interests. (PSU, WC, L. 12) According to Luo & Klohnen, 2005 ” Birds of a feather, flock together” tends to be how long- lasting relationships succeed. (PSU, WC, L.12) But what about “opposites attract”? You can’t have it both ways.
I won’t deny that if you ask a couple who has been together for over 20 years what is the key to the success of their relationship you will hear many things. Some will say they make time for each other, some will say they have the same interests, some will even say they take time for themselves. While you will hear many stories all we be different. Here’s our story:
She was just 16, a junior in high school. He was an 18 yr. old who graduated 30 days before. They were brought together by a working relationship. She ran the concession stand at the local baseball complex and he was a scorekeeper. She was the captain of her cheerleading squad and he was the local bad boy from LA. However, she saw something different. She wasn’t convinced he was worth her time. He didn’t have a car, no job that had more then 15 hours a week and wasn’t even looking at college. So what was it about him? He had mischief eyes, he did things she would never do, he smoked. All things she knew where bad. She knew her parents would not be happy. So she took a chance. It was just a boyfriend. She could get rid of him at any time. But something happened. She started to really like him.
It turned out that he was sweet, and sensitive and there was this attraction between them. Then things started happening. He became jealous of all her guy friends. Jealousy is an emotional response that like other strong emotions will subside over time. (PSU, WC, L. 12) He didn’t trust her and she wasn’t too happy about his lack of ambition. After about 4 months they broke up, then got back together, then broke up. This went on for 4 years.
Things changed. She went to college and he had finally started taking classes. She worked a lot and so he started working more because she was working. Some how things had changed this time. They both had matured a little. He no longer smoked or put himself in bad situation. He actually tried to make himself a better person, for her. He had too. He had to keep up. She was ambitious and new exactly what she wanted. Then something happened neither was ready for, she became pregnant. At 20 and 22, they were having a baby and like it or not it was time to figure out what was happening with this relationship. Just like always, she knew she wanted to be together and raise the baby. And for the first time it became clear that she was now going to be his entire life.
Flash forward 17 years later, we are still together and the attraction has never been stronger. So what’s our success? 17+ years changing together. We grew up. We did it together, my success was his and vice versa. We tried new things together, even when the other person was not interested. We are each other biggest cheerleaders. We are not the same people we were at 16 and 18. From our perspective, other couples from high school didn’t change together so the relationship faultered.
So now when someone says that “birds of a feather flock together” I would argue that “opposites attract” are way more fun and can work for you if you love what is opposite about them and don’t try to change them, just change together.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2015). Applied Social Psychology. Psych 424. Lesson 12: Relationships/Everyday Life. Retrieved from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp16/psych424/001/content/13_lesson/printlesson.html
Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.