Why Similarities Are Important

When you meet someone who is quite different compared to yourself it is pretty exciting. You begin discovering new ideas, you get to pick their brain, go on adventures you never even thought of, and the list goes on, but at some point, that excitement fades. Why? Well, the lack of common interests, thoughts, and attitudes finally caught up. This unfortunate reality did not often cross my mind until after I read about how strongly similarities impact the length and security of relationships, romantic or platonic. The similarity-attraction hypothesis states that attraction increases between those with similar characteristics and personality traits (Dryer & Horowitz, 1997). This hypothesis has been supported by numerous studies stating that friendships and romantic relationships have a greater success rate when they share common behaviors, characteristics, and/or attitudes (Dryer & Horowitz, 1997).

Looking back on my past friendships, the common factor that led to their downfall was the fact that there was an absence of similarities. For example, I am very introverted and enjoy doing things that do not involve a large group of people or having to socialize with people I have never met, for that matter. My old best friend, on the other hand, is extremely social and loves going out to parties and meeting new people. This critical difference in personalities eventually resulted in us falling out and forming our own group of friends in which we related to more. There are many more examples of past friendships and romantic relationships that reached their end quickly, but I want to provide another type of example. I only keep a handful of friends very close to me and noticed that we all share the same type of aspirations, views, and humor. My three closest friends are those who I am able to connect with on a different level compared to others, which strengthens our relationship.

While similarities are important, differences hold great significance as well. People who share similar personality types are able to understand and appreciate these traits and characteristics, while differences allow for a new experience (Lurtz, 1999). I believe friendships and romantic relationships should have a balance between similarities and differences that are compatible so there is a balance.


Dryer, D. C., & Horowitz, L. M. (1997). When do opposites attract? interpersonal complementarity versus similarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(3), 592-603. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1037/0022-3514.72.3.592

Lurtz, P. K. (1999). Partner similarity and relationship satisfaction among couples (Order No. 9926967). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I. (304524781). Retrieved from http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/304524781?accountid=13158

1 comment

  1. Hello,

    I enjoyed reading your post. I think you make a good point regarding how differences can cause friendships to not hold up in time. While there might be an initial excitement, as you mentioned, due to differences, this can fade when the incompatibilities become clear. That said, it is true, in my experience, that some friendships between different types of people do last. Why do you think this is the case some of the time, but not other times?

    While I suppose there are various reasons this could be the case, maybe it has to do with the specific differences–or similarities–in question. As we learned, the matching phenomenon states that we tend to be attracted to those similar to us (Gruman, Schneider & Coutts, 2017). However, individuals are complex and may have both great similarities and differences with another. For instance, one of my best friends is different than me in most ways (e.g. goals, preferences, hobbies, etc.), however, we share the love of philosophy (we met in a philosophy class years ago). Perhaps this particular interest overshadows our various differences in favor of our friendship.



    Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2017). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: SAGE.

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