Messy house, messy love life – do you attract what you are?

I’ve seen many different types of couples over my 20 years as a relationship psychologist. And one of the interesting patterns that comes up time and time again is the type of person that different individuals attract. Now it would seem like you would naturally be drawn to someone like yourself, but in my experience it doesn’t necessarily work out this way. By contrast, what I’ve come to notice with couples is that often people attract a person that will make-up for their limitations. For example, someone who has a messy house, can be drawn to a person who is clean, tidy and loves to micro-manage. Someone who is anxious and dramatic, can end up going out with a person who is calm, level-headed, and good at listening. A person who is quiet, shy and withdrawn, can end up with an individual who is outgoing, sociable and fun. And a single who likes to please, avoids conflict and goes with the flow, can fall in love with a partner who is dominant, opinionated and likes to lead. Time and time again, I see this pattern occurring. One person attracts a partner who makes up for their imperfections and flaws.

Now this would seem like a pattern that makes for good relationships. But it’s certainly not the case. Often, partners get frustrated with each other’s imperfections and limitations and the roles they have to play. Particularly when they become too extreme. For instance, the messy person gets tired of being micro-managed, and the tidy person gets fed up with being like a parent! So take a moment to think about the roles you play in your relationships. What type of partner do you attract, what do you expect from them, and what do they often complain about? If this is an obstacle for you – then make an adjustment. For instance, if you’re the messy one, then start being more organized and this will take the pressure of the both of you.

John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship psychologist, as seen on the hit show Married At First Sight, and on Ch 9’s Today show, Today Extra and A Current Affair. He is a best-selling author, regularly appears on radio and in magazines, runs a private practice in Sydney, and is a sought after speaker. (

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