Should I date my opposite-sex twin or find someone who complements me?
March 14, 2015 6:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm shy, unassertive, and nerdy. Should I date someone just like myself or try to find someone whose strengths are my weaknesses?

I'm a 30-year old straight female who has searched high and low to find a guy I click with. (I'm not like most people: I'm shy, socially awkward, self-conscious, unassertive, not a drinker or a partier, compassionate, easily frightened, an avid reader about certain geeky topics and a recreational performer/consumer of a certain kind of music that most people my age don't care for).

I have gone on a zillion dates with a wide range of people. I've had a couple of relationships, but they didn't work out. Most guys I meet just don't seem right for me, for whatever reason.

About a month ago, I met a guy about my age who is, well, basically ME with a Y chromosome. We had instant chemistry and we share all the same interests and appear to have the same personaity and the same skillset (we even majored in the same thing in college). I really enjoy his company and feel very comfortable around him. Somewhat amusingly, we both nearly "gave up" after the third date, thinking the other just wasn't interested! In other words, we're both insecure and risk averse.

So we're similiar... but maybe too similar. I'm at the point in my life where I'm looking for someone to marry. Should I really pair off with someone with ALL my strengths and weaknesses? How would we two be stronger than one? We are both "too nice," both too shy and unassertive and insecure. We are both good at writing and playing the piano and making clever history-related jokes, but not good at fixing electronics or interpreting a company's quarterly report. Heck, we're probably the exact same Myers-Briggs personality type!

I thought opposites attracted--or were supposed to. Am I wrong to like my opposite-sex twin, or do most couples actually match up this way? Should I instead force myself to pair up with someone outgoing and assertive who can speak up for me in the face of life's inevitable future challenges (and fix my computer if it breaks)?
posted by Guinevere to Human Relations (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I think you're overthinking this. Why not just keep dating this guy and see where it leads? I don't believe in any "rules" for dating, including that "opposites attract". If you're attracted to this guy and have fun with him, then just keep seeing him and see where it goes.
posted by barnoley at 6:29 PM on March 14, 2015 [38 favorites]

Should I instead force myself to pair up with someone outgoing and assertive who can speak up for me in the face of life's inevitable future challenges (and fix my computer if it breaks)?

No! Learn to do that yourself/ves. One of you will step up, in the same way that when two messy people get together, one eventually caves and becomes the "clean" one.

Stick with the guy with whom you've got great chemistry and shared values and comforts.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:31 PM on March 14, 2015 [28 favorites]

Also, it's this individual person you like and happened to have met and who is now already sparking with you that you need to be thinking about, not a type.

But also, the stuff I've read suggests similarity is better than difference for long-term partnerships.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:32 PM on March 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

omg you should date the people you like and marry the person you love and don't overthink your way out of a relationship that works.

I'm not trying to be flip here. Relationships are all sorts of things to different people. There is no right or wrong way to do it. There is no normal, there's only what works for you. Don't bend your life around someone else's say so.

Though...if you were in love with this person you're with right now you probably wouldn't be asking this question. Maybe you shouldn't be dating this particular person. But that doesn't mean you should date your polar opposite, either.
posted by phunniemee at 6:33 PM on March 14, 2015 [17 favorites]

Try both, see what is better for you.
posted by discopolo at 6:33 PM on March 14, 2015

Best answer: What? Why on earth would you sabotage a relationship with someone you really click with? Because you click with them too much? This literally makes no sense.

Studies actually show that the whole "opposites attract" thing is bullshit. People tend to pair off with people who are just like them -- similar interests, similar backgrounds or class, similar personalities. My own personal observation is more often than not, people pair off with people who look like them too -- again, studies show people tend to pair off with people who are the same level of attractiveness. You should not ruin a great relationship because of some misguided belief that you need to find the yin to your yang. People who are similar can still challenge and push one another in some ways, whilst still being supportive and understanding in other ways.

Stop overthinking this. Let yourself be happy. (And a word of advice: Stop referring to him as your "opposite-sex twin." That just sounds really icky and doesn't exactly help with the perception you need to get over so you can enjoy this relationship.)
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:39 PM on March 14, 2015 [42 favorites]

You've only known him for a month. You don't know he's just like you, you're just assuming that, and you know what they say when you assume...take things day by day and get to know this guy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:44 PM on March 14, 2015 [11 favorites]

For what it's worth i know more than a couple pairs of people who match up like this, who are very happy together for years. Like meander off to their own little island happy.

Not only saying the opposites thing is dumb, but that i've seen this sort of thing work out great. Don't let your brainstupid convince you this is TOO good to be true or whatever.
posted by emptythought at 6:47 PM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

The "opposites attract" trope originated during a time where cultural norms imposed numerous behavior standards on people via religion, inherited professions, gender- (or race- or class-) based expectations/requirements, etc. Those systems were both constricting and comfortable in that everyone knew their role. Moreover, families had to be more self-sufficient. It therefore made sense that one's opposite would be very appealing, both for practical reasons (offsetting skills) and to add the spice (and delightful tension) missing when life is lived in conformity. Nowadays, you can procure any skills you lack and variety/temptation is all around; you can be/do anything/anyone you want, relatively speaking. Therefore, the comfort and stability of being bonded to someone who truly, deeply gets you and shares your outlooks, quirks and interests is now more valuable than ever. Don't second-guess yourself out of this relationship.
posted by carmicha at 6:53 PM on March 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

shy, unassertive and nerdy

Before you start dating again, if that's the direction you go, work on your shyness and negative self-talking. Do that, and your dating life will be much easier and more fulfilling in every way.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:53 PM on March 14, 2015

Best answer: Look, sometimes I'm like "MAN why isn't ONE of us the kind of person who [GOES OUT AND DOES STUFF, I'm tired of sitting around playing internet!] [gets annoyed by clutter and actually CLEANS THINGS] [doesn't FREAK OUT OVER MAKING PHONE CALLS] [etc.]"

But 99% of the time I'm like "I'm so glad you're you because who else would [be super into this deeply nerdy conversation we just had] [have the same delighted reaction to finding this weird thing at the bookstore] [watch Archer and Nausicaa and Adventure Time in the same weekend] [etc.]"

And when we have to make a phone call or clean the house or whatever, usually we either get it done together or whoever's feeling a little more with it takes the lead.

I mean, I'm not going to say I wouldn't like to have a couple friends who would drag me out to exercise or help me get organized or whatever, but I'm working on expanding my friendships. We'll see. Thing is, our partnership makes me happy when I wake up and go to sleep. So...that's how it is for us.
posted by wintersweet at 6:54 PM on March 14, 2015 [33 favorites]

You sound like you're trying to self-sabotage by deciding against a compatible relationship because it's too compatible. My guy and I (and many mefites I've met) are very similar in the ways you state. We hire people to fix our computers and make our home repairs because neither of us are good at those things. We support one another in our efforts to be social in the face of our shyness. We marvel all the time at how much we enjoy life together because we enjoy so many of the same things. Stop trying to control love and instead see if you enjoy spending time with this guy. If you're like me, your anxiety will try to make you Decide the rest of your relationship life, or try to make you dump him first. Ignore that, and just ask yourself if life is better when he's around. As long as the answer is yes, keep spending time with him. After a year, you're allowed to examine this harder, but in the meantime, give it space.
posted by ldthomps at 6:57 PM on March 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

P. S. We also initially missed each other's klutzy attempts at flirting, but we couldn't resist spending time together as friends, and eventually it became impossible not to date. That was 16 years ago, and we'll have our 12th anniversary this summer. Not saying you have to expect that with this relationship; just that sometimes people say "It just wasn't meant to be!" and other cliches after a missed connection or two. Poppycock!
posted by wintersweet at 7:05 PM on March 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

Should I instead force myself to pair up with someone outgoing and assertive who can speak up for me in the face of life's inevitable future challenges (and fix my computer if it breaks)?

You can hire someone to fix your computer. You can't hire someone to make you happy, to share your sense of humor, or to love you.

Opposites can attract, but they can also overwhelm with differences of feeling, understanding and approaches. There are no relationship rules except to be kind to one another. If he truly floats your boat, keep him, and count yourself lucky.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 7:23 PM on March 14, 2015 [10 favorites]

Best answer: You don't need someone to fill in your gaps. You, when you need to, will fill in your own gaps. But it's nice to have someone at your side who will support you and have your back and make you happy in the meantime, as you grow into your confidence and assertiveness and learn to fix your own computer.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:26 PM on March 14, 2015 [15 favorites]

Best answer: My husband and I are both super sensitive people. While sometimes I feel I should be with someone "stronger" to compliment myself, this has mostly been a source of incredible strength. We can be incredibly sensitive to each other's needs because we understand each other much more naturally, and that fountain of understanding gives us strength to deal with the rest of humanity which can be less sensitive.

I believe you may have found your oasis.
posted by cacao at 8:39 PM on March 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

I approach it from a pragmatic standpoint: You're currently batting near .0 (a couple successful relationships out of a zillion attempts). So I think you must continue seeing any guy you are gushing over, such as this ivory tickling, flirtation challenged, nerdy writer dude you have your eye on now.

However, some of your self description is concerning. It's going to be really tough to navigate marriage with the self consciousness, the insecurity, and the distaste for controversy, along with what appears to be a weak self image. You'll need to be honest when it's not working for you, and generally talk though challenges--even when you really don't agree with each other. You both seem to have strong interests going for you, which is great--you know who you are. And you have chemistry, which is also very important. I wish you well, but if you date long term you may want to consider seeing a couples counselor together (pre-marriage counselor) just to make sure you're communicating well.
posted by Sonrisa at 11:39 PM on March 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was once with someone who is "outgoing and assertive who can speak up for me " and she had contempt for my lack of assertiveness. She barely appreciated my fixing her computer when it broke since it wasn't the kind of skill she valued. When we broke up, she happily paid some underling to fix her computer and I learned to value my cautiousness rather than agreeing with her that I had a problem.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:10 AM on March 15, 2015 [7 favorites]

"Opposites attract" is something that people say post facto to explain why someone's relationship works even though the people seem incompatible. You seem very compatible! Go with it!
posted by arcticwoman at 6:23 AM on March 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

You fall for what you fall for. You can't just pick "the assertive, outgoing dude" out of a catalog to boink.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:05 AM on March 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'd say my relationships have all been a mix of similarities and differences. Like 50% similar, 50% pretty different. That works for me and I like it, but I think having more in common would have made these relationships easier, not harder. Maybe especially at first.

Give it some time, you may be more different than you think. It's hard to really know someone until about 4 months in.
posted by quincunx at 8:31 AM on March 15, 2015

I really enjoy his company and feel very comfortable around him.

There's your answer :)

Enjoy! You like being together, keep being together. Forget about 'should' and focus on what is in front of you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:35 AM on March 15, 2015

I think you - and he - sound like wonderful people. Even more so together.
posted by NatalieWood at 3:20 PM on March 15, 2015

My husband and I are very similar in many ways, and because we know our own weaknesses very well, we're better able to challenge and encourage one another in a way that is supportive and constructive. For example, we are both very introverted and socially anxious, so when my husband pushes me to be more social, it is coming from a place of empathy. I have dated more extraverted people, and when they encouraged me to do similar types of activities, it was much more tinged with "What's wrong with you that you don't want to go do this fun thing, you weirdo?"

In other words, what nearly everyone else has said. Don't worry yourself out of a good relationship!
posted by coppermoss at 5:10 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm kinda like this and at least for me, growing up, I felt misunderstood in a lot of ways, and like I didn't belong. I'd have more mainstream friends, or friends at school-- and I'd get along with them fine, and we'd have fun, but there was an odd barrier there where I just felt out of place with them occasionally. Because they couldn't 'see' all of me, and even if they could they wouldn't be interested in conversing about comics or what have you. It was as if I could never 100% be myself.

And sometimes, in certain relationships, I also felt that way. It's hard to describe, but it's like a feeling of 'other' when you're with someone and they just don't 'get' it, or you.

The thing is, with the person I'm with now, I don't feel misunderstood. I feel like I fit in, finally, like I belong. It finally clicks, and it's so wonderful. And I'd never settle for a romantic relationship where interactions would occasionally make me feel 'other' again, you know? You shouldn't either.

As others have said, you shouldn't really look for someone to 'complete' you or to balance out your negative traits. My brother married someone like this, and it they're on the verge of divorce. For one thing, it doesn't work. Does being with this guy make you want to be better on your own merits? Not because he expects you to or wants you to but because you want to. This is the important thing.

Also, people look forever for someone who they 'click' with. You're lucky. You got there, finally. Good luck!
posted by Dimes at 2:02 AM on March 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

If you were going into small business partnership with this person and neither of you was willing to promote the business because neither of you likes "selling"--and the business relies on selling, then I'd say yes, it won't work out, you'll sink the business. This is a relationship not a business. What matters is that a) you click and b) you have the same values.
posted by lillian.elmtree at 7:32 PM on March 16, 2015

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