Opposites Attract

Opposites attract. I’ve seen it in real life. In fact, I’m living it. And I prefer it in the romances I write and read. The bad boy and good girl (Kristen Ashley, Motorcycle Man). Or bad girl and good boy (Lauren Dane, Laid Bare). The socially inept science geek and the social butterfly (Delphine Dryden, The Theory of Attraction; my book, Waiting for Ty). The rich girl and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks (Lisa Kleypas, Sugar Daddy). The introvert and the extrovert (Julia Quinn, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton). The soldier and the pacifist (Penelope Williamson, The Outsider). The Republican and the Democrat (the 1994 movie Speechless; my book, Tempting Meredith). Opposite sides of a war (Kresley Cole, any of the Immortals After Dark).

But why do opposites attract? Well…

Is there anything more seductive than wanting something you shouldn’t want, something that is oh-so-bad for you? Think chocolate lava cake when you’re trying to lose a few pounds.

How about something that takes you out of your comfort zone? Like a city dweller on a cattle drive. Or someone without that risk-taking gene jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

Or curiosity about other cultures and lifestyles that takes you to a foreign country or even a different region of your own country.

Turns out, biology also plays a role. In a study by Claus Wedekind, women were given the t-shirts of six different men who had worn the shirt for two days. They were asked to rate the smell of the shirts. When the women weren’t taking oral contraceptives, they rated the scent of men with MHC different from their own more highly than men with similar MHC. In other words, they were attracted to the scent of men with DNA different from their own.

But what happens after you’ve eaten that cake or checked out China or jumped out of the airplane, or become accustomed to those different pheromones? Isn’t the thrill gone? Is it, as my mom would say, “Been there, done that.”


Falling in love isn’t just about the initial attraction. It’s also about staying in love. It’s about learning from each other, strengthening each other’s weaknesses, and knowing that sometimes those weaknesses are strengths. It’s yin and yang, a balance of opposites.

At least, that’s been my experience.

What about you? Do you subscribe to the opposites attract theory?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.

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