The saying is that opposites attract. The innocent, goody-two-shoes is drawn to the dangerous bad boy; the emotionally in-tune person finds his or herself attracted to the one who is emotionally unavailable. This stereotype has perpetuated our society for decades, but now it appears it has been largely debunked.
Relationships often last when there are shared values and beliefs including religion, ethnicity, political preference, etc. Studies on this phenomenon have shown that when others agree with or confirm your own views, it makes them appear more attractive to you. Psychologist Don Byrne conducted a study on this, to show that similarities can breed attraction; he called it the “phantom stranger technique.” When Byrne’s participants interacted with these “phantom strangers” who possessed varying degrees of similarity, he found the higher degree of similarity between participant and “phantom stranger”, the higher their mutual attraction.
In any case, a multitude of studies show just how much humans crave humans who are just like them. But, what about diet? Do similar food preferences also factor into one’s attraction to another? In recent years, the public has become increasingly concerned with what they eat and have assumed various diets at high rates. Veganism increased by 600 percent in the U.S. since 2014, according to the 2017 “Top Trends in Prepared Foods” report. In 2014, only 1 percent of Americans followed the vegan diet whereas currently about 6 percent of Americans have adopted the diet. The younger generations, including Millennials and Generation Z, value the quality of their food far more than their elders, according to a 2015 article by USA Today, which surveyed over 30,000 consumers across 60 countries.
This emphasis on food and health is a central focus for many young people. They are also heavily involved in the dating scene, especially on various online dating platforms. As of April 2017, 61 percent of 18-29-year-olds were using or had previously used a dating app. This connection between those seeking relationships and those seeking a different diet or healthier lifestyle comes at an interesting time.
There are a variety of ways to sift through potential partners —age, gender, religion, job, body type, etc. — but very few dating services offer diet as a means of finding the perfect match. Articles like “Food Fights Can Split Couples” and “How to Deal When You and Your Husband Have Different Eating Habits” expose a relevant issue in today’s relationships. Diet has become increasingly important and intrinsic in people’s lifestyles and values. The fact that a similar diet would be valued in a partner is evident.
Jesse Hernandez is a Los Angeles local and recent vegan who sends out a monthly newsletter called “MyVeganEmail”. He spoke about his relationship and diet and why, to him, being on the same page as your partner when it comes to diet is essential.
“Me and my girlfriend met a few years ago at an electronic festival and she was eating meat when we first met,” said Hernandez, who was a vegetarian for seven years before turning to veganism last October. “She was pretty open minded to learning about it (and later became vegan too).”
For Hernandez, this unity in beliefs and diet choices is a huge aspect in his relationship and something he values above all.
“Diet and food choices for me are kind of mandatory. I couldn’t really be interested in someone if they’re consuming meat,” he said. “I think that’s a core part of my relationship too because if you’re not aligned with your beliefs…it can be really awkward and uncomfortable.”
The idea that “opposites attract” does not ring true for Hernandez either.
“I think there’s a million different want ways you can be attracted to someone. I don’t really believe in the phrase opposites attract,” he said. “Personally, I’m attracted to people who have similar thoughts and mindsets as me.”
Darcy Kircher, a senior at The Ohio State University, also believes a shared value of healthy eating and diet is important in a partner and personally follows a diet she described as “low bread carb diet” that consists mostly of protein, veggies and fruits.
“There are certain qualities that can be different but I also think there are things you must feel the same way on to actually be compatible,” Kircher said. “(My boyfriend) knows I try to be healthy so we always try to make healthy meals together… as a special occasion we will go out and eat something not sohealthy.”
Both Kircher and Hernandez have partners who are either on the same page or a very similar page when it comes to food and lifestyle choices. For those who are single, however, it can become important to find a partner with whom you can truly lead the life you desire.
Khalid Moalim, a recent Los Angeles transplant working in film and television production, follows the pescatarian diet. He belives it helps him feel more energized after eating and aware of the role diet can play in one’s overall well-being.
“Since I’ve adopted a pescatarian lifestyle, I have become more aware of the eating habits of the people I’d date. I don’t necessarily think that partners in a relationship have to have the same diet, but choosing to be healthy together would benefit the relationship,” Moalim said. “If only one person is focused on their health and the other isn’t it could potentially put a strain on the relationship.”
Unlike most others, Moalim perceived “opposites attract” as an opportunity for partners to introduce one another to different ways of living. In that way, it could also serve as a positive for couples.
“I do believe opposites attracts sometimes,” Moalim said. “I say this in terms of challenging one another. Whether that’s one person helping their partner get healthier through exercise or through eating healthier.”
Elizabeth is a longtime writer and current documentary filmmaker from Los Angeles California. Knowing the greater story of all who cross her path is her inspiration. She’s deeply passionate about food and health and enjoys cooking, exercise and being active in nature whenever possible. You’ll likely find her on a hike, in a documentary screening or at the local Farmer’s Market.