Opposites Attract

In a previous post, I gave a number of examples of polar opposites, like right and wrong or day and night. My blogger friend Jim, in a reply to that post, asked, “Why are people usually attracted to their opposite, the one who is totally different from or the reverse of themselves?”

My snide response to Jim was, “I don’t know, but that may be why the divorce rate is so high.”

That got me wondering if there was any validity to my off-the-cuff comment about the divorce rate being in any way related to people being initially attracted to their opposites, so I did some digging.

The United States has the highest divorce rate in the world, with roughly 45% of marriages expected to end through divorce. The good news, though, is that the overall divorce rate in this country has decreased slightly since its peak in the 1980s.

In fact, in 2017 the U.S. divorce rate has dropped for the third year in a row, reaching its lowest point in nearly 40 years.

Infidelity, money issues, lack of communications, and lack of physical intimacy are generally cited as the most frequent reasons for getting divorced.

I found it interesting, though, especially for a Baby Boomer like me, that while divorce has been studied extensively among younger adults, the research to-date has essentially ignored divorce that occurs to adults aged 50 and older.

Gray Divorce

According to the Pew Research Center, in contrast to the dropping overall divorce rates, the divorce rate among those 50 and older has increased substantially in recent years. And among those ages 65 and older, the divorce rate has roughly tripled since 1990. Divorce within this group of older Americans is sometimes referred to as “gray divorce.”

Among the top reasons for divorce by Baby Boomers is irreconcilable differences.

So perhaps people are, indeed, attracted to their opposites and may even end up marrying them. But it’s also possible that, as people age, their opposites grow less and less attractive.

And that might explain why the divorce rate for those over fifty is increasing while the overall divorce rate is going down.

Maybe, for older married couples, there is some truth to that saying that familiarity breeds contempt.

14 thoughts on “Opposites Attract

  1. Marilyn Armstrong August 21, 2017 / 9:39 am

    I think people are attracted to people who are sexually attractive and that lure grows significantly less with the passing years. If you don’t have a real friendship too? When they kids move out and you don’t have to worry about “keeping it together for the kids,” you have a party and finally get your freedom. I don’t think people ARE attracted to their opposites. I think we are attracted to a physical type … and that gets old very quickly. Relationships that last are built on friendship, compromise, and a willingness to try new things together.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Fandango August 21, 2017 / 1:49 pm

      I agree. Especially on your last point about a willingness to try new things together.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. newepicauthor August 21, 2017 / 11:50 am

    I guess I got a grey divorce, as I was married for 22 years and now I have been divorced for 10.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kijo August 21, 2017 / 12:38 pm

    Maybe it’s not so much “opposites attract” as “compliments make sense.” I consciously chose an extroverted chatterbox because I didn’t want a quite introvert like myself. Now I talk more and he goes out less, but it suits us both. It makes sense to seek a collective equilibrium by choosing someone different from you. Now, if the difference is too big, eh…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Esme upon the Cloud August 21, 2017 / 2:15 pm

    I agree with Marilyn, if anything we’re drawn to people who are similar to us in personally – hence life long friendships that never fail, and blogger friends when we have no idea what they look like- yet the sexual attraction blurs all that when young. The older you get, if you catch on, you look to with someone who will be great to spend time with regardless of sex. Ideally both of course, but that will almost always fade, and enjoying someone’s company is essential the more time you spend together.

    – Esme nodding upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Emilio Pasquale August 21, 2017 / 3:55 pm

    I thought I’d be married to the same woman forever. My parents married when they were 20 and 21 and stayed together 58 years, till my mother died. My dad never remarried and never even looked at another woman after my mom. Nice to think they are still together once again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango August 21, 2017 / 4:17 pm

      When you wrote that you “thought” you’d be married to the same woman forever, dies that mean that you weren’t? My parents were together for almost six decades, but in thinking back, theirs didn’t seem to be a very happy marriage.

      Like

      • Emilio Pasquale August 21, 2017 / 4:43 pm

        We made it for 22 years, and two separated before divorce. Lynn and I have now been married for 5 years. My parents were very happy together, as far as I knew.

        Like

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