The saying “opposites attract” is far from the truth of human attraction. We actually prefer people that are similar to us. We want to feel secure, and our attraction gravitates to familiarity.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous Freudian theory, The Oedipus complex. Freud emphasized that sons secretly want to be romantically involved with their mothers. As well as girls and their fathers (penis envy). As creepy as this sounds it isn’t too far off.
Freud was really trying to say that we seek partners that act as familiar caregivers. The home is where the heart is. Love is a subconscious endeavor to fixate on another human that will act as our adult caregiver.
Let’s say that a little boy was cared for by a very anxious caregiver. As the boy ages into a man he will subconsciously be looking for an anxious partner. Although being anxious is not a positive trait, it is a familiar personality.
Online dating sights have a tricky situation. They can list every similarity and ambition two people have, but the meeting can feel off. This is because this person doesn’t feel familiar. Alain de Button mentions this concept in his talk, On Love.
Children from abusive and neglectful families tend to fall into abusive relationships because of this complex. The ability to be consciously aware of traits of familiarity may help break the cycle.
Next time you look at your partner or someone you like think about this concept. Do you like them for some internal caregiver quality you’ve been exposed to in childhood?
If you like this post check out: The Soulmate Complex