Are there opposites

Opposites attract? Why we really fall in love

There are no rules or laws in love. She just attacks you like that. Without being able to say exactly why it happened. Nevertheless, there are a few clever proverbs, such as "Equal and equal like to join". In contrast, however, it then says: "Opposites attract". What's right now?

Can you just adjust it just as it suits you better, like "beer on wine, let it be" and "beer on wine, that's fine"? Not only do we feel in the dark here. Science, too, seems a little bit hard at the mystery of love.

Study: Being able to smell the right partner

Nevertheless, there is a study that supports the thesis of attractive opposites. The point is that you have to be able to "smell" your partner. The whole thing has little to do with perfume and choice of deodorant, but has a biological reason: Because the natural body scent gives us information about the immune system of our counterparts.

We then intuitively select those whose immune genes are the perfect complement to our own. The purpose: The joint offspring should receive the greatest possible variety of immune genes so that they are resistant and capable of survival.

The background: We have genes in our genome that belong to the so-called main histocompatibility complex (MHC complex), which ensures that our immune system can fight off invaders such as viruses, bacteria, etc.

There are a total of nine MHC genes, each with hundreds of variants, so-called MHC alleles. Each of us has a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 18 of these variants. In order to be perfectly protected against any kind of intruder, we should look for a partner whose 18 variants perfectly complement ours.

Studies have shown that women often choose partners whose alleles differ only slightly from their own. So it depends on a very special mixture, not necessarily on having as many different MHC genes as possible as a couple.

In the 1990s, a group led by the researcher Manfred Milinski at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön came to the admittedly very unromantic realization that the nose leads us to our matching counterpart. To do this, they let women smell the t-shirts worn by men. And lo and behold: They all chose the respective T-shirt wearer who perfectly matched their own immune genes.

In this respect it can be said quite clearly: opposites attract. However, it must also be said that further t-shirt trial studies were not so clear-cut in the following years.

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Are we all just instinctual or is love more?

But are we really not more than that? As cells that want to reproduce? So living beings whose only endeavor is to pass on their own genes and who then gloss over the whole thing as love? Heaven, that would be sad!

Fortunately, there are things that cannot yet be finally explained. Not only love, but also, for example, what is after death or how one should imagine the infinity of the universe. There is a lot that has been researched about it, a lot that has been tried to explain. But you couldn't get to the bottom of either one or the other. And so many people hope that things like this don't just have a simple, logical explanation, but that there is more to them.

As far as love is concerned, so much has been dissected and explained in the course of time: the prey pattern that each of us has. That men, when choosing their partner, make sure that she exudes fertility. From the pill that manipulates us with regard to our choice of partner or from the cycle that lets us fly to more distinctive men than usual on fertile days. And yet I hope that is not all. That love is more than an instinct and a community of purpose.

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More than genes: the influence of the psyche

Fortunately, the statement "opposites attract" makes sense not only for evolutionary researchers at the Max Plank Institute. Because of course there are next to the evolution theorists also the psychologists who think about the feeling that brings two people together. That is the second factor that plays an important role: our psyche.

While evolutionary biologists mainly speak of the perfect reproductive duo, psychologists see completely different motives in falling in love. When you meet someone who you can tell that it matches, as the saying goes in the new dating world. That there is someone who fits us humanly like ying and yang. Who is not one of many nice acquaintances, but the one person who compliments us.

And this complementation can have two faces. On the one hand, that we have someone by our side who completes us by having what we don't have. On the other hand, the type of soul mate who ticks exactly the same way and feels the same as us.

Both theses come into play here: the one with opposites that attract, and the one that says that we tend to team up with similar people. And both can be found among couples. And both can work in the long term. Provided - and this applies to those who tick the same way as to those who are opposites - both are willing to constantly work on relationships.

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Opposites attract, but we are looking for the familiar

So are we consciously looking for either our opposite or for similarities? Well, you can see for yourself that both constellations work. In my circle of friends, I can say quite clearly which couple works according to the principle of equality and which rather according to the principle of opposing opposites. Every relationship is different and depends on which personalities and characters meet with which ideas and vulnerabilities.

The complementary pairs have the advantage that they can have a balancing effect on each other. So a dominant person often gets into a relationship with someone who doesn't mind. A person in need of support is more likely to be with someone who can give them security, etc. Two alpha animals, stubborn heads or rampant pigs would definitely get into the enclosure in the long run. In the case of complementary couples, one character ideally has a balancing and healing effect on the other.

But it's not the opposites that attract. Otherwise we are very careful to team up with someone who is similar to us. In relation to education, goals in life, beliefs, upbringing, ideas of partnership, cultural background and social status. Often these relationships of two similarly knitted people are more constant than when two completely alien worlds meet.

Just as an Antifa supporter is unlikely to be in a relationship with an AFD supporter, a bon vivant hardly with a consumer who refuses to consume and a dropout hardly with a board member of a billionaire company. That may provide something to talk about and new experiences at the beginning, but it would hardly stay harmonious in the long run.

Similarities for more stability

Conclusion: In terms of character, opposites can very well attract each other. As far as the same background is concerned, it should match. Ultimately, it is the similarities that draw us towards each other, because they guarantee a more stable partnership with fewer conflicts and friction points. We all have a desire for stability in a relationship.

A study by psychologist Paul Eastwick from the University of Texas confirmed that we are looking for common ground. A study that appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America also showed that we are attracted to someone when we can understand their emotions and feelings.

So if it is not completely dissimilar to our emotional structure. So if the social interaction matches and we understand what our counterpart wants and feels, then it also matches in love matters, so the thesis.

In addition, it is important that the partner ticks similarly when it comes to vulnerability and empathy, but also sociability and open-mindedness, as a study by the two psychologists Nathan Hudson and Chris Fraley at the University of Illinois showed. And who thinks that you can come to terms with your partner, who is so different, and even change him? No, we know too well from our own experience that you cannot change a person. Not, or not at all, in a partnership.

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Men and women pay attention to this when choosing a partner

But not only fragrances, similarities and character draw us magically to someone. Already clear. Of course, the first impression is also extremely based on external appearances. If we meet a potential partner, we check him out within seconds: What is his status, does he appear well-groomed, healthy, educated? We do this on the basis of facial features, facial expressions, gestures, age, voice, but also clothing and behavior.

Many also often say that they have a prey scheme. This was also confirmed by researchers at the Canadian University of Toronto found in a study. It is not uncommon for the new partner to be very similar to the ex. We like to clap our hands over our heads and say we always fall for the same guys. The fact is: we don't necessarily fall for it. It is we who unconsciously choose this type again and again.

Men and women value different things when choosing a partner. This is proven by a number of studies, including those by Adrian Furnham from the University of London: Heterosexual men therefore pay more attention to the appearance of a woman. And that is not only for aesthetic reasons, we also combine regular facial features, a female hourglass figure, symmetrical breasts and a beautiful appearance with health and thus fertility.

Heterosexual women, on the other hand, according to the studies, pay more attention to the man's social and economic status to ensure that he is able to raise his offspring. As I said: we do not make these decisions willingly, but quite unconsciously. It would not be thought far enough now to portray men as superficial and women as money-hungry.

Especially since one has to say: The thesis that women and men have such different criteria is also controversial because it ignores cultural influence. This different way of choosing a partner is not as extreme as it sounds. Because the greater the prosperity of a culture and the more equal men and women are, the less their criteria differ when choosing a partner.

Also read: Loot scheme: Why women always get the wrong one

Love just happens

Knowing all these factors now, there is still no way of telling with certainty what will happen to us when we fall in love. And so it will happen again: We will enter a room again and immediately be able to say who is interesting as a potential partner and who is zero. It will be fractions of a second again in which we have this clear to ourselves.

And if we can barely sleep, barely eat, barely think at the moment when we are in love, then we will again fail with any logic. Despite all the joy of explanatory studies and sciences, it is ultimately terrific that love remains a wonderful mystery.