Sometimes the most unlikely people get together and make the best of friends. You are a quiet introvert while your friend is loud and lively; you are methodical while she is spontaneous. If you and your friend are complete opposites, the friendship may have a chance at working out. While personality can have significance in whether or not you get along, there are other factors involved in what makes a strong friendship.
Personality Similarities Matter Less
You might think that your friend's personality is more similar to yours than it really is. Because you get along really well, you might assume that having similar interests means you are more alike than you actually are. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology looked at college students' friendships to see how many pairs of friends were opposite or similar in personality. Each respondent in the hundreds of pairs of friends was asked to report on both his personality and his friend’s. Researchers didn't find that friends were significantly more opposite or more similar, but they did discover that people overestimated how similar their friends were to themselves. This could mean that you may be focusing on the similarities you do have with your friend, despite all the differences.
Why Opposites Attract
You and your friend might be opposites, but you may fit well together because you have something that the other doesn’t. As with magnetic fields, people are attracted to those who have the traits they believe are missing in themselves, explains psychotherapist Ross A. Rosenberg in “She Drives a Mercedes, He Rides a Harley: Why We Are Attracted to Opposite Personalities” for Huffington Post. For example, someone who hates the spotlight may be drawn to someone who loves attention because this person fulfills a void in the shier individual.
World Views and Values
If you and your friend have similar world views, your personalities may not matter in how well you get along. You could be more serious while your friend is more carefree but remain really close because of your shared spiritual beliefs and similar attitudes to life. Shared values are more important than similar personalities when it comes to how people get along, according to counselors Suzanne Degges-White and Christine Borzumato-Gainey in “Friends Forever: How Girls and Women Forge Lasting Relationships."
Demographics and Interests
Even with different personalities, friendships can grow based on shared interests and experiences, say Degges-White and Borzumato-Gainey. Similarities such as growing up in the same neighborhood, enjoying the same hobbies or being the only ethnic people in your class can help create a strong bond, despite having polar opposite personalities. Similarities matter most when a friendship is developing, but when you are best friends, the relationship becomes something on its own as you and your friend grow together and learn from each other.
- Friends Forever: How Girls and Women Forge Lasting Relationships; Suzanne Degges-White and Christine Borzumato-Gainey
- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Similarity and assumed similarity in personality reports of well-acquainted persons
- The Huffington Post: She Drives a Mercedes, He Rides a Harley: Why We Are Attracted to Opposite Personalities
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images