Do people say they want a romantic partner who is similar or complementary? Is that what they *really* want?


The present study examined the extent to which individuals seek partners with similar, as opposed to complementary, personality characteristics. Results showed that whereas individuals desired a partner who resembles them in terms of personality, when asked about their preferences in general, most individuals indicated that they desired a complementary partner instead of a similar one. In addition to a similar partner with regard to personality, women also desired a more conscientious, less neurotic and more extraverted partner than men. These results are discussed with reference to the importance of matched personalities in marital success.

Source: “Do People Know What They Want: A Similar or Complementary Partner?” from Evolutionary Psychology, 2008. 6(4): 595-602

Most studies I read show we like people we perceive to be like us. Sounds obvious? Read the abstract above again. Not so obvious.

We even like people who position themselves the way we do and we unconsciously position ourselves like those we like. We like people who move the way we move. Even in very “serious” issues like voting we prefer leaders who are like us.

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