What is the phrase for a romantic relationship between two incompatible personality types?

Example: nerd & party animal.

Often seen in movies, lots of examples e.g. "Hometown Cha Cha Cha"; "Pretty Woman", etc.

C.f. "May-December romance" ... but for personality, not age.

Edit: Someone below asked for the context where this is needed. It is in Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hometown_Cha-Cha-Cha There is a sentence I want to improve: "... The drama depicts tiki-taka romance between the two and life of other Gongjin's residents." By "tiki-taka" they mean oil-and-water, but I want to replace it with a better phrase. But I'm having trouble finding one. Tho "oil and water" is not bad.

  • 1
    Presumably you mean apparently incompatible? Mar 20 at 17:34
  • There's a difference between complementary personality types (e.g. a leader and a follower, a dominant and a submissive), and genuinely incompatible (which might very different, but might be two leaders, two who are both too indecisive, or two who are otherwise too similar).
    – Stuart F
    Mar 20 at 23:30
  • 1
    Can you provide more of the context in which the word will be used?
    – alphabet
    Mar 21 at 2:29
  • 1
    oil and water...? Mar 21 at 4:53

2 Answers 2


The relevant idiomatic expression even gets its own (Merriam-Webster) dictionary entry...

opposites attract (idiom)
used to say that people who are very different from each other are often attracted to each other

If people didn't recognize the truth of that saying, they probably wouldn't be prepared to watch endless movies based on it, because they wouldn't find the scenario convincing.

A well-known example rooted in the physical (rather than emotional) sphere is the north and south poles of a magnet.

I'd guess there's a sound biological / evolutionary reason for this tendency. It leads to better mixing of the human gene pool, and "any fule kno" that mongrel dogs are often far healthier than inbred pedigree dogs. It was probably a risky business, but the genetic evidence is that homo sapiens definitely interbred with Neanderthals!


The Cambridge Dictionary has a word with an appropriate usage example


to put together people or things that are unsuitable for each other:

I always thought Chris and Monique were mismatched, so I wasn't surprised when they got divorced.

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