Similarity in a relationship refers to the perceived likeness between partners in a relationship that elicits an attraction response. In similarity relationships, individuals enter into a relationship with partners whom they share similar perceptions.
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Complementarity on the other hand refers to the attraction relationship that involves partners with different behaviors and perceptions. The partners in complementary relationships have joint yet different interests that help to sustain the relationship.
In interpersonal relationship based on complementarity, an individual’s behavior leads to a restricted behavior response from the other partner thus helping to sustain the relationship. In similarity relationships, individuals enter into a relationship based on the perception that the partner supports the individual’s views.
In similarity relationships, the interpersonal attraction depends on the perceptions of both partners. According to Bailey and Kelly, two important factors help to establish similarity relationships; first, the perception of both partners concerning themselves causes the attraction response that leads to a relationship (40). Furthermore, one partner’s perception on the other and how the partners perceive each other helps to sustain the relationship.
Another factor that contributes to similarity relationships involves the attitudes of both partners. Bailey and Kelly research established that similarity couples normally choose partners or friends with similar attitudes as their own (41). Additionally, the initial attraction between partners in a similarity relationship depends on the similarity of their attitudes.
People enter into complementarity relationships because in complementary relationships are more satisfying and stable as the partners differ in personality traits such as dominance and this phenomenon tends to reduce interpersonal conflicts leading to a stable relationship.
Similarity relationships are often the basis of sexual partnerships. According to Laumann, Gregon, Michael, and Michaels, individuals enter into opposite sex relationships with partners who possess similar social attributes such as in race, age, education and religion (255). Majority of people enter into similarity relationships based on similarity of race.
The researchers further noted that people get into similarity relationships because in similarity relationships, the level of interaction is high which makes the partners sexually compatible. Social factors such as friendship and social institutions also encourage people to engage in similarity relationships as majority of similarity relationships are formed in social settings.
Complementary relationships on the other hand form because partners believe these for of relationships are more satisfying and more stable.
The partners in complementary relationships have contrasting personal attributes which help to sustain the relationship. In a complementary relationship, one partner normally assumes a dominant role over the other partner who subsequently communicates submission.
The assumption of different behaviors by both of the partners reduces interpersonal conflicts and contributes to a stable relationship. In addition, complementing differences between partners increase attraction between the opposite sexes. People enter into a complementary relationship because of the sexual appeal provided by both partners.
Similarity in attitude between the partners in a relationship helps to strengthen the relationship leading to a more stable and sustainable relationship. The perception that a partner supports one’s self concept also helps to promote similarity relationships. In addition, the sexual compatibility in similarity relationships between partners contributes to a sustainable relationship.
Complementing differences between partners reduce the level of interpersonal conflict between partners as each assumes a separate role from the other, thus sustaining relationships. The individuals share joint interests and perceptions of each other which help to sustain complementary relationships.
Bailey, Richard, and Kelly, Martin. “Perceived physical attractiveness in early, steady, And engaged daters.” The Journal of Psychology116.23 (1984): 39-41.
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Laumann, Eric, et al. The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. Chicago: University Press, 1994.