Couples share up to 89% of values, new study says: ‘There are very few traits where opposites actually do attract'

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When it comes to finding a partner, it turns out that opposites don't attract. In fact, most people tend to couple with those who are very similar to them, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior. 

Partners, on average, share up to 89% of traits, including deeper values such as religiosity and political learnings, and also experiences such as smoking and sexual activity.

"There are very few traits where opposites actually do attract," Jared Balbona, co-author of the paper and a postdoctoral associate at the University of Colorado Boulder Institute for Behavioral Genetics, told CNBC Make It. 

Couples align on the amount of water they drink and how miserable they are

To be as comprehensive as possible, researchers collected data on two fronts. They analyzed findings from 199 published papers — some dating as far back as 1903 — that looked at 22 commonly studied traits among couples.

Altogether, that meta-analysis contained information on some 8.5 million people worldwide. They bolstered those findings by studying 133 traits from 80,000 volunteers from the U.K.

Researchers plotted their results on a scale that ranged from 1 to -0.5, with 1 being complete convergence with a partner and -0.5 indicating complete nonconvergence. A score of zero for a given trait represents total randomness and no correlation between partners.

They reported their findings using a 95% confidence interval, an industry standard, indicating that they are 95% sure their findings, selected at random, would be true. 

All couples were male-female. 

"Our study is set apart by being thorough and large," Balbona says. 

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Qualities, experiences or traits that couples had in common varied. Study participants tended to drink the same amount of water as their partner and spend the same amount of time on the computer.

They also reported similar levels of friendship satisfaction and miserableness and tended to become sexually active at the same age.

Extroverts and introverts were less likely to pair with one another than they were someone of a similar social stamina, Balbona says, debunking the trope that homebodies and outgoing people are attracted to one another.

There were just three traits on which couples tended not to align: hearing difficulty, tendency to worry and whether they were morning or night people.

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