5 Life Lessons People Learn Too Late | Reader's Digest

5 Life Lessons People Learn Too Late

Strong relationships make for a rich life, but we're often mistaken in the ways we pursue them.

By Elizabeth Svoboda from Psychology Today
Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine February 2014

don't wait handJoel Holland for Reader’s Digest
Lesson #3:
Opposites Don’t Forever Attract

The key to a happy, healthy relationship is choosing someone who is, quite frankly, a lot like you—a person who validates your views and habits. Studies have repeatedly underscored the importance of shared values, personality traits, economic backgrounds, and religion, as well as closeness in age.

Glenn Wilson, a psychologist and a professor at Gresham College in London, developed a compatibility questionnaire covering lifestyle, politics, child rearing, morality, and finances. He found that partners who answer comparably are more apt to report satisfaction. Still, he says, “when couples are overly similar, it can be a bit of a brother-sister relationship—too predictable, without a lot of novelty.”

So what’s the happy medium? Seek a partner whose passions differ enough from yours to expand your experience, but with whom you’re aligned on big-picture issues: how to show affection, what constitutes a moral life, and how to raise children.