1. Drusilla
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    Drusilla Active Member

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    opposites attract- or not?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Drusilla, Mar 25, 2011.

    I am not a fan of "opposites attract", and I don't think I am going to do that sort of pairing in my writings. What do you think about the "opposites attract" thing? What's causing this type of pairing to be so popular? I believe that people with similar interests, political stances, lifestyles, philosophies and interests have a bigger chance of lasting, and I am not fond of relationships where one of the parts is smarter, braver, tougher or wiser than the other. Some might call me boring though.......
    Ron/Hermione is a pain in the *** for me.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's up to you as a writer. If you wish to portray attraction between two apparently mismatched people, write it that way. If you prefer to portray that it's really the ideals and interests they hold in common, then write that instead.

    It doesn't matter what the consensus of a group is. It's up to you, as a writer, to sell your characters' relationship as believable to the reader.

    Keep in mind, this is a Writing Issues forum. It matters not whether any particular view of attraction is more true, only whether you can make it work in a piece of writing.
     
  3. Tesgah
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    Tesgah Member

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    Ron and Hermione isn't so wierd. They share many of the same values. The fact that Hermione is highly intelligent is no reason for the pairing not to work. What I mean to say is that their overall characters are not so opposite as it might seem.

    The thing about opposites is that it won't matter much in the small run. One can be madly in love with someone who is very different from oneself. In the long run, however, those relationships which are based on people with similar interests, values, traits etc. have a much greater chance of lasting than the opposites. Opposites are often interesting, but you soon grow tired of them. Similar people are not so interesting, but it's so much simpler to be together if you are both very much alike.

    This often doesn't matter too much in books. Give them one or two things they share, write some believable attraction, and it'll often work. It's not so much the character similarites as whether or not the characters are likable that define if they fit in stories. Likable + likable --> fit. Not likable + not likable --> fit. Likable + Not likable --> very rarely fit together, just because the reader most often will not approve. Just my 2 cents ;)
     
  4. Silver_Dragon
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    Silver_Dragon Senior Member

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    The way I see it, total opposites don't attract. Relationships are built on shared values. However, there can be certain elements where people complement each other. For example, I am really shy and quiet while my fiancé is much more talkative. I find it easier to talk to more outgoing people (at least when I don't know them well) than to make conversation with people who are quiet like I am. To some extent, I also like spending time with people who force me to expand my horizons and learn, too. So I guess my best relationships have been built on quite a lot of similarities, and some differences.

    However, in terms of fiction, the reason the "opposites attract" thing works in fiction is because it creates the opportunity for conflict. A relationship where people get along too well isn't going to be interesting in a book. I had this problem with the love interest in my first novel--he got along too well with my MC, and they were headed toward a happy yet boring marriage, so I got rid of him.
     
  5. Drusilla
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    Drusilla Active Member

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    I am not writing romance novels, and when romance and love is not the main "conflict", why should it matter? There is an already-established married couple in my writings, and their marriage is not what it is about. They are very similar in views, philosophy, interests etc. They just happen to be the aunt and uncle of the main character. They are very important characters, just not the main character(s).
    I haven't themed my main character up with anyone yet. She is only 14. I have no clue who she is going to marry/end up with, if she is going to end up with anyone. I have thought about using the "opposites attract" thing as an unbalanced, "live to learn" type of relationship. When she is 15 or 16, she will be "used" by a character very different from herself in views, life philosophy and morals.

    It will be like...... opposites attract= superficial relationship (only about looks/"the outside")


    I am not against one character being shyer than the other if it is just one tiny bit. But I would never team an elegant wine taster with a wild party animal.

    One of the things that bothers me mostly about Ron/Hermione is the lack of respect they have for each other (after my opinion) and the love/hate relationship. I hate love/hate relationships, and I find them unromantic and unbalanced.
     
  6. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I think the problem may be that you're trying to apply the rules of real relationships to fictional ones. Sure, in real life, opposites very often don't get along very well, and won't end up in a stable relationship. In real life, we also might sit around for an hour, use the restroom, and go a week or a month with nothing significant happenning. None of these things, however, is particularly interesting to the reader.

    The reason opposites often attract in fiction is because that creates tension and conflict, and conflict is interesting to the reader. Sure, the relationship is not your main conflict, but when was the last time you read a book with only one conflict? Relationship conflict can add flavor and life to a book of any genre. That said, if you really don't want this kind of conflict in your novel, that's your decision to make. Just keep in mind that you're not writing about real life, you're writing something interesting that should seem real to the reader.
     
  7. Silver_Dragon
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    Silver_Dragon Senior Member

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    I used the example of romantic relationships, but my comments were about relationships in general: friendships, romances, or whatever else. My point is that the issues that make or break romantic relationships and friendships--in terms of compatibility--are often the same things.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suppose it depends on what the opposites are. A person who likes to travel and a person who likes to stay at home aren't going to work well together. A person who likes to talk and a person who likes to listen might work beautifully. So might a person who likes to cook and be appreciated for his cooking, and a person who likes to eat and likes to appreciate food. So I'd say that what you need is neatly interlocking opposites that form a compatible whole.

    ChickenFreak
     
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  9. Bay K.
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    Bay K. Contributing Member

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    Couples are never exactly alike, so, naturally there are some differences --which may be opposites-- between them. And I completely agree with the 'complementary opposites' idea for richer, long-lasting relationships.

    But, generally, shared / common values = meaningful, richer, lasting relationships.
    While high-degree opposites = lust, infatuation, flashy thrill / excitement, craving for something one doesn't have --can't have / mustn't have / shouldn't have.

    The latter may be more intense / passionate in the short run, but tends to fizzle out as the relationship progresses.




    ---------------------------------------------------
    Be good, wise and strong --or don't be at all
     
  10. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    I myself usually go for two people who differ greatly, but who share many 'small' similarities. I find it much easier to write a relationship this way.

    In what I'm writing now for example, one character is thoughtful and selfish while the other is brash and more inclined to go out on a limb for a friend. However, both enjoy doing stupid things like jumping when elevators come to a stop, faking accents when ordering food, and bringing camping chairs with them into bookstores.

    When you've got little things in common, it's much easier to come to accept major differences.

    The opposite also works extremely well. Two people that are very similar, but they have greatly different habits. Their tiny differences annoy the hell out of each other. I run into this a lot in real life.
     
  11. Bay K.
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    Bay K. Contributing Member

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    QUOTE by Ion:
    "When you've got little things in common, it's much easier to come to accept major differences."

    Uhh ... I ... don't think so!
    (But it's an interesting concept for fiction).




    ----------------------------------------------------
    Be good, wise and strong --or don't be at all
     
  12. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    As opposed to someone that had nothing in common with you at all?

    I said much easier, not plain easy. If you have somewhere to start, then you have somewhere to start.

    Edit: I'm not saying it's easier than having two people that share many things in common. I'm saying that some similarities can help dissimilar people get together. Plus, I'm talking about how difficult it is to write the relationship, not about how relationships in real life tend to work.
     
  13. Daisy215
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    Daisy215 Member

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    Personally I think characters need to have things that They dislike about each other to create conflict in the relationship and make it seem real. Of course in the end they learn to put up with each others faults and such.
    As for opposite couples, I halfway agree. Although I think some pairings are annoying I have been in great relationships with guys who aren't anything like me. What matters is the spark, and that they enjoy being together.
     
  14. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There is a difference between opposites in personalities and opposites in values. Someone who is very different from me may be initially put off by that difference, but later attracted to the fact that our differences actually compliment each other. Once we get past that stage, she may discover that we share a lot of values, allowing for the beginning of a serious long term relationship. But then something may arise that shows that, for all our shared values, there is a difference she didn't expect, or I may do something that she sees (or may really be) out of character, and our relationship may suddenly be in peril. But then I may prove her wrong, or apologize for my stupidity, and the relationship is saved.

    Fits a lot of romantic stories, doesn't it?
     
  15. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nice distinction, Ed. (Though I think we may disagree a bit in the conclusions we draw from it. Not sure)

    Certainly (for me), in terms of attraction and the initial stages, conflicting values aren't a huge obstacle but vastly different personal styles are.
     
  16. Gingerbiscuit
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    Gingerbiscuit Senior Member

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    Of course opposites attract. My other half is beautiful, talented and sexy - the complete antithesis of myself and yet we get along just fine.

    Self abasement aside I think it's fine to write about the couple that you want to write about. the only reason people like the Ron vs Hermione thing is that they like to think that the weaselly little ginger kid can get the girl (And we can) but don't let that force you into writing something you don't want to.
     
  17. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    The two guys I nearly married but unkindly dumped, and the one I eventually married, were on the surface totally different from me--different backgrounds, nationalities even. At first, it was definitely an attraction. I was kind of attracted to unusual men and I'm ashamed to say I was showing off to my Chelsea friends at first when I started dating a part Trinidadian who skated for the Steatham Reds. How my parents loved him. But in fact as well as being great guys the three men I've seriously adored were all fantasists (unfortunately) and loved sport, kids, and they were all creative and very intelligent (but still dumb as far as life matters go) so they turned out not so different from me (or each other) in the end. In most novels, the 'opposites' generally attract, and then the couple finds out they have quite a bit in common.
    Hope my husband doesn't read this.
     
  18. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's just imitating real life, isn't it?

    I've been with my partner on and off for almost two years and we've absolutely nothing in common: he likes his video games, heavy metal and does well in his studies; I enjoy clubbing, hitting the gym and sleeping through lectures. I love to discuss politics and combat sport and it'll put him right to sleep - opposite happens if computers or cars come up. In high school I would mock him and hide his lunch box in maths class. Well, "used to mock him" is a lie - I still do it on a daily basis. It's his own fault for being a spineless geek. :D What do we have in common? Just horror films, bowling and sense of humour... when he keeps his jokes tasteful.

    It's not just him. My best friend and I are polar opposites yet we've been close since 1995 and we've never fought once - we know to stop pushing each other before it goes that far. Debating with these two is always more interesting than talking with people who share the same views. I couldn't cope for too long being around people who had nothing to teach me or anything to argue with me about - this is why the people I used to live with in a student accommodation drove me mental within four months.

    People don't need to have much in common at all to get along well and, of course, it often leads to more conflict which is more interesting to read about in a novel than someone finding their "perfect match" and living happily ever after them. It's more realistic too.
     
  19. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, Art. I'm not sure if we would or not. There are always exceptions to the rule.

    "Vastly different personal styles" potentially covers a lot of ground. Then again, so does "values". In the end, what a person holds to be extremely important is a very personal decision, and a difference on something she or he holds to be extremely important is going to be an impediment to a strong relationship.

    Several years ago, I was in Gerry Cosby's, which is a purveyor of authentic and replica sports jerseys and such of professional sports teams, in New York City. I was there to buy a birthday present for my wife - a Boston Red Sox jacket (at the time, she was a big fan of theirs). I was doing this while wearing the New York Yankees jacket that she had given ME for MY birthday the previous summer. When the salesman showed it to me, he was looking at me very suspiciously, and finally said, "You want a Red Sox jacket?"



    I explained that it was a gift for my wife. This only made him more suspicious, and he said, "Wait a minute. You're a Yankee fan and you're married to a Red Sox fan??" (For the uninitiated, the two teams are bitter rivals. For my English friends, think Arsenal and Spurs). I replied, "Well, I look at it this way. If Jim Carville and Mary Matalan* can do it, we should be able to make this work."

    "Yeah," he said. "But their difference is politics. Baseball is a lot more important."


    *Jim Carville was a spokesman for Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential campaign while Mary Matalan worked for George H. W. Bush. Both are commentators on CNN.
     
  20. Zarathoustra
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    Zarathoustra New Member

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    "Love is blind"-wise saying

    People do not analyze each other, in a social interaction. Most relationship begins by accident, and the accidental event has a greater chance of happening the more time these individuals spend together. It could be a word, a remark, a look, a joke...simply something which spark interest, a tinny desire, and then the rest is built on it.
    The cause is related to culture, most people are not themselves in general. In childhood we do not learn to think and forge ourselves, we are told what to think and we evolve around it. This generate an incredible amount of repetition(when you say something, a thousand[plus] people have said or are saying it at the same time). This mean that the little event(the accident, keep following) is random, and people fall in love by pure chance(or take a chance).

    Thus, opposite would either not notice they are, or desire originality...but often they will not even speak to each other.
     
  21. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, both terms cover a lot of ground...and the territories overlap a lot. Personal styles give rise to values and values give rise to personal styles too...Perhaps I was premature in applauding the distinction ?;) No, don't think so. A very useful instrument for looking into the matter.

    Jarring personal styles quickly give rise to communication difficulties. Things are misunderstood. Talking becomes a chore. Words must be weighed, carefully. No fun to have to explain oneself all the time. Spontaneity is stifled. Talking ceases to be a pleasure ..and not simply meaningful talk...all talk:about dinner or putting the rubbish out...the stuff that forms the chief part of any relationship.

    Providing both parties enjoy communicating - clashes in values - perhaps even profound ones - can be readily accepted, even embraced. Yoshiko, above, says much the same, I think.
     
  22. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can assure you from sad experience that beautiful young single women tend not to be attracted to ugly old married men. :(
     

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