Do Opposites Attract?


Enoch Orozco

The left and right brain both serve different purposes, and most people tend to be dominant over the other (Photo courtesy of Enoch Orozco).

In the scientific and analytical world of the left brain, a common theme arises: opposites attract. Whether magnets or oppositely charged ions, the theme stays consistent. Weirdly enough, even in the artistic and creative world of the right brain, the theme arises in complementary colors in art and varying dynamics in music. It would seem that *within* these worlds the theme stays true, but does that still apply *between* them? 

For most people, they are easily distinguishable between being more artistic (right brain) or more analytical (left brain), as said in Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Sperry’s theory. “People are either left-brained or right-brained, meaning that one side of their brain is dominant,” as stated by the article on Sperry’s theory. Despite the fact that there are many ties between the two, such as music and architecture which require both sides, hobbies and talents tend to distinguish one person to either side. One who is strong in the arts has a high chance to be less potent in mathematics, while an engineer might have a hard time putting his thoughts into artistic sketches. This difference has a very interesting effect on the important social aspect of our lives as well: relationships.

“People want things that they don’t have, emotions and interests included, so people want to see creativity if they are more analytical and the other way around,” according to Wade Hampton junior Cannon Bedenbaugh. “My father is very left brained, seen from his personality and job, and my mother is very right brained and artistic.” So, according to at least one instance, the situation holds true.

To follow up with what Cannon said, I interviewed Austin Garrison and Natalie DeRosa, a Brashier couple. “Austin has a tendency to not understand people’s emotions and stick to the facts. I can be too emotional,” says DeRosa. However the couple then added that they use this dynamic to their advantage, and bounce ideas off of each other to get another perspective. Their experience directly relates to what Cannon theorized above.

“It’s just a coincidence,” according to Mauldin junior Carter Antley. When you view it as a strict “wiring” of the brain it would make sense that the two sides of the brain simply wouldn’t understand each other. And if the two sides cannot understand each other, then they would not be compatible for a relationship. Rhetorically speaking, how could someone form a relationship with somebody they don’t understand? It would be easier to simply say it depends on the situation and the people involved, such as what Antley was implying in the above.

Both sides of the argument seem to have enough logic to defend either side. Most of the research done focuses on how each “dominant” side functions rather than them functioning together in a relationship. However, a book by Rebecca Cutter titled “When Opposites Attract” focuses on those relationships, but offers little insight as to whether or not it is a common occurrence. Therefore, the conclusion is left up to personal observation and experience.

In my opinion, I would agree with Cannon. Through all the relationships I’ve either experienced or observed it would seem the stronger ones rely on a simple rule: making up for what the other person lacks. Whether it be the motivation to get something done or the ability to cook well, making up for what one lacks is key to a successful relationship. This directly relates to the conversation on left/right brain dominance in relationships. If one can make up for the cognitive weakness of the other, this can lead to a very healthy and successful relationship.