Opposites Attract — or do they?

We’ve heard it so many times it qualifies as an overworked, underpayed cliche: Opposites attract.

Really? Do they?

And if those opposites get all attracted to one another, is this a good thing?

There certainly are certainly plenty of  novels where two very different personalities fall in love. Here are two from two of my favorite authors:

  • Joy and Luke, in Rachel Hauck’s book Dining with Joy. Joy hosts a network cooking show–and she can barely boil water. (I know, another cliche.) Luke is a chef who loves cooking and eating food who is determined to regain his reputation as a chef.
  • Socialite Katherine Breckenridge and bull rider Rafe Noble in Susan May Warren’s book Taming Rafe. Katherine comes from money and Rafe is as country as they come — and they don’t trust each other.

And what about movie examples of the “opposites attract” principle?

  • Rich Rose and poor Jack in the movie the Titanic?
  • Good girl Sandy and bad boy Danny in Grease?
  • Big bookstore owner Joe Fox and The Shop Around the Corner bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail?

Obviously writers–novelists, screenwriters–believe putting two ve-ery different people together is a ve-ery good plot device.

But think as a reader or movie-goer for a minute. Does the whole “these two people couldn’t be any more different and yet they are falling head over heels for each other” plot get old? Does it ever not work for you?

In Your Words: What about real life? Did you ever find yourself attracted to your polar opposite? He likes to camp and you think roughing it is going to a hotel other than the Hilton? Or you’re a vegan and he’s a meat and potatoes guy–heavy on the meat? How’d that work for you?

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  1. November 1, 2011, 8:02 am   /  Reply

    Hubby loves to “rough it” and I adopted my father’s attitude of “why sleep outdoors when you can sleep inside.” Our first camping trip took place when I was a few months pregnant. Not the best experience, but I survived. Where’s the conflict in movies and books, if the people aren’t a little different? As a twin, I realize that even people who “seem” to be alike really aren’t, but not everyone can see that. Hence, the wacky and unbelievable contrasts.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 1, 2011, 8:32 am   /  Reply

      For our first Christmas, my husband gave me a hiker’s backpack, long red underwear and a wool cap. My response: What’s this for? He informed me it was for when we went winter camping! I didn’t remember that coming up in the wedding vows at all! Yes, an opposites attract bit of conflict that’s funnier now than it was then.
      (And, Stacy, have we already done the “I’m a twin too” exchange?)

      • November 1, 2011, 2:43 pm   /  Reply

        Yes, so I knew you would understand the twin reference. I’m an identical twin.

        • Beth Vogt
          November 1, 2011, 5:22 pm   /  Reply

          Fraternal one, here. I thought we’d discussed this before. 🙂

  2. November 1, 2011, 11:48 am   /  Reply

    I love Taming Rafe. Make that, I love Rafe. 🙂

    I think opposites can and do attract and it often makes a great story – but only when it’s taken a new direction. I’m totally willing to buy two people falling in love who couldn’t be more different IF they have a heart connection. A quirky plot with amusing opposites is great, but it’s not enough to make me believe the romance if there’s not a deeper-level connection between the characters. (see, almost all current chick flicks…fun stories but so often very little in the way of showing what the characters actually like about each other.)

    • Beth Vogt
      November 1, 2011, 12:15 pm   /  Reply

      Yeah, I love Rafe too! And I like the whole Opposites Attract thing when it works. I had one friend who didn’t like the move Kate & Leopold because, although the hero and heroine were ve-ery different, her take was: Why would Leopold like a nasty, unlikable woman like Kate?

  3. Jeanne T
    November 1, 2011, 12:49 pm   /  Reply

    I believe opposites CAN attract. My hubby and I are very similar in many ways that count. In some of the more minor ways (i.e. camping, how clean we each like the house, etc), we are opposites, at least to some degree.

    I agree with Melissa. In a story I wanna see the heart connection to really believe the romance. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      November 1, 2011, 12:58 pm   /  Reply

      In your case, opposites attracted, fell in love — and are doing quite well. (I know this for a fact!) 🙂

  4. November 2, 2011, 8:28 am   /  Reply

    I love Kat and Rafe! Their opposites made them fun to read. I always make my characters have some opposing personalities because it makes for great conflict but I agree that polar opposites are realistic. My husband are different in our likes and in our preferences – like early morning/ late night or toilet paper roll up or down – which does make for interesting conflict!! However where it counts we like the same things – such as how to spend our free time and what our priorities are in life.
    I agree with Melissa’s comment about movies these days. They are too fabricated without substance for the relationship to grow (heart connection).

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