The Algorithm of Attraction

Ayanna Desai

“There is clear and convincing evidence that birds of a feather flock together.”

It has been a month since Valentine’s Day, and a lot has happened since then. 

Some of you might recall the matchmaking activity where we took a short survey, and then a few days later we got a sheet of compatibility matches. (Perhaps you remember this very well because you immediately asked out the person at the top of your list.)

A common theme I noticed was that a lot of people got matched up with their friends, or their non-romantic counterparts. Would that be awkward? Not according to Charlotte Stukes. “No, it wasn’t awkward at all,” she told me, “I just laughed about it with them.” 

The survey asked questions about our favorite dessert, our favorite car, our dream vacation, etc. There was some controversy on whether opposites attract or birds of a feather flock together. 

Ava Brown has mixed feelings about this. She thinks that when “people have mixed opinions (they) usually mix well and make you laugh, and it’s fun being around people who don’t think the same as you because it’s a surprise,” she said. “But if they’re too opposite (just) can't get along.”

For magnets, opposites attract and likes repel. The question arises if this is true for humans as well. 

On the website Bustle, Carolyn Steber writes that there are seven benefits of dating someone who is your opposite. These include that it can keep the relationship stable, you can learn from each other, it can help you find balance, you will learn how to compromise, you’ll have new experiences, it will help keep the spark alive, and you’ll possibly face your fears. 

Cyndi Gave, a writer for TTI Success Insights, says that opposites are also stronger regarding businesses hiring workers. In her article, she talks about how people tend to hire people who are more similar to them. However, this can be hurtful to the businesses because “businesses need to survive, period.” When there are a bunch of people who are similar, they won’t notice anything wrong or think to improve anything in the business because they all have the same ideas. 

Those all sound like pretty good reasons on why you should date, befriend, or hire your opposites, but there are some negative outlooks on opposites attract as well. 

A writer for The Conversation, Matthew D. Johnson, says that “there is clear and convincing evidence that birds of a feather flock together.” He says that the reason that people think that opposites attract is because contrasts tend to stand out, but if you are looking for a strong relationship that actually works out, you should look for someone who has some similarities. 

All of this should lead us to think about some of the questions that were on the survey. Charlotte said that if someone were to see her responses, they would have a pretty good idea of who she was as a person.

In short, the survey is a good representation of who you are.

When the survey pairs you up with people, they do it based on a percentage that reflects how similar you are to your “soulmate,” which begs the question, is the person at the top of your list actually your soulmate? 

There are all sorts of reasons we become friends with people or fall in love with them. So, if you decide to let the results of this survey alter the course of your life, or even just reflect what you already know, perhaps it wouldn’t be that crazy.

The Lovett School is an independent, coeducational day school where children from Kindergarten through Grade 12 find the courage to explore and the drive to discover.

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