Do Opposites Attract?

By: Jen Shoop

I was thinking the other day about the old adage “opposites attract,” and how that notion seems to run at cross-purposes with something a successful business leader once told me about building a high-functioning team: “make sure everyone is oriented around the same values.” Of course, shared values do not necessarily mean uniformity in all areas, but — do like-minded people get along better? Or is the opposite true?

I think that Mr. Magpie and I are similar in more ways than we are different. We are both organized, driven, sensitive, observant, entrepreneurial, and curious. He is more even-keeled and risk-tolerant than I am, but those traits feel like gradations on a scale versus high-contrast in relation to the way I am. As a small example, we are somehow perfectly attuned to tolerating the exact same level of clutter/chaos in our home. Both of us wordlessly pitch in to maintain this level with no conversation or role-tasking, as though two hands directed by one mind. There are countless other realms in which this takes place. I can’t tell whether this is the result of twelve years of marriage or because we were attracted to similarities in one another way back when.

I feel the same way about a lot of my closest friends: more similar to me than different. I recently spent a few days with my husband’s cousin, who — on the surface — seems like my polar opposite. She runs a successful sailing business off the southern-most tip of the world, Ushuaia, taking scientists and brave tourists on excursions to Antarctica in dangerously icy water, often at sea for weeks at a time. She raises chickens, knows how to spin yarn from wool, and seems always game for new outdoor adventure. She once told me that she feels most empowered wearing steel-toed boots. We talked about the fact that she works with her hands for a living. I, on the other hand, work entirely in the digital pale, sitting in one spot on my little perch. And yet. Sharing a weekend with her, I realized that she and I have more in common than not: she is enterprising, detail-oriented, highly attuned to the moods and reactions of others, open-minded, inquisitive, hard-working, pragmatic–all traits I hope it is not too self-aggrandizing to say that I identify with. She might be living them out in different ways, but, at my core, I see a lot of commonalities between us, especially as we bonded over our forays into entrepreneurship and motherhood. We are both attentive by nature and by the circumstances of our vastly different careers.

But maybe, then, this is friendship: finding the common ground and living there? Focusing on what is shared?

What do you think? I’m curious – do you feel you are more similar to or different from your closest friends?


+On narratives of female friendship.

+On losing a best friend at a young age.

+On friendships that have run their courses.

+On the stirring experience of attending my twenty-year high school reunion.

Shopping Break.

+This dress is SUCH a great transition-to-fall statement.

+Weezie is running a rare up-to-70% off sale, which includes their wildly popular hand towels, my beloved short robe (the key to not overheating while styling your hair post-shower!), their incredible bath mat (we have this in the children’s bathroom, and I like that the underside has a grippiness to it to keep it in place…nice and plush, too), and these towel cover-ups for kids, which my children have LIVED IN this summer while getting in/out of the pool, beach, lake, etc. This is a great occasion to buy ahead for gifts for the holiday season IMO. How great would this robe be for your MIL, or this personalizable baby towel for your new niece?

+How CUTE is this woven kelly-style bag?

+My daughter really enjoyed playing this game and this game with me on our recent vacations — a first for us! We have tried getting her to play games for awhile but have found she either buckles at the rules or gets frustrated when losing; these are great for four to six year old kiddos. Mad Libs was also a BIG hit on the car ride home, which surprised me. I was anticipating massive confusion on the parts of speech, but mini really “got” it with a little prompting/examples, and we were all laughing as a family together. Highly recommend. Plus, a sneaky way to introduce the parts of speech to little ones.

+THE PERFECT BOOT FOR FALL, and it’s 50% off.

+These acrylic glasses have been popular with Magpies the last two years, but are currently on sale — buy now to enjoy next summer (or for your end-of-season hangs!)

+LOVE this new silhouette from J. Crew. Trying to decide on a color, but wouldn’t it be fab with a silk slip skirt?

+Maria McManus is a new-to-me-label with lots of sleek, sophisticated separates. This blouse would be a fabulous fall staple for a work wardrobe.

+This BR top would be another great fall wardrobe workhorse.

+These under-$50 heels remind me of my favorite dressy heeled sandal from Alexandre Birman, but they’re in SUEDE. Perfect for fall/winter formal occasions.

+Love this uniquely-shaped chic leather bag.

+This dark floral dress is perfect for a little one heading towards fall.

+Cutest duffel for a little lady.

+Sleek rechargeable lantern.

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3 thoughts on “Do Opposites Attract?

  1. Love this blog! Also I love this question, very thought provoking. I have a theory that we self-select our spouse and closest friends by certain fundamental similarities such as shared values and emotional maturity, but aside from those fundamentals, everything else can be wildly opposite and diverse. For example, introvert/extrovert, tastes and preferences, hobbies, skills, which makes life so wonderfully interesting.

  2. Could you help me (and maybe others) please. This Weezie sale is so confusing to me. When I go to the site and look at the popular hand towel, there is only one (ONE) on sale and it is red piping. How is everyone so excited about this? What am I missing?

    1. Hi Cynthia! Sorry if that sounded confusing! A lot of the products are only on sale in select colors/pipings. My take is that they are probably selling colors/patterns that did not sell as well as the more popular colors, as they designated this promotion a “warehouse sale” — clearing out space for more inventory in other colors. (I like the red, personally!)


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