We’ve all been there. Sometimes, dating the same type of partner can lead you nowhere but heartbreak time and time again. So stop settling for “just Ken” and enter: the “Barbenheimer” dating trend.
Just as movie attendees managed to embrace both all-pink Barbiecore looks and the severity of the creation of the atomic bomb during the “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” double feature this July, singles are now open to the idea of embracing partners who are their complete opposite.
While the phrase might have just been coined because of the two opposing movies released together, polar-opposite dating is not itself a new idea. Celebrity couples have long been embracing unexpected partners, such as Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly and Timothée Chalamet and Kylie Jenner. And for some couples, this dating method has proven to be long-lasting. Just look at Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker — what may be considered an unlikely romance between a reality star and a rock musician actually resulted in them tying the knot in Italy with a baby on the way.
“The notion and recognition that ‘opposites attract’ can date back to the ’50s, and what we’re seeing is a reframing of that for the TikTok generation.”
In fact, it seems Gen Z in particular is open to Barbenheimer dating. Tinder reports that 61 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds are prioritizing open-mindedness over looks (56 percent) when it comes to finding a partner. This means that whether you identify more like Margot Robbie or Cillian Murphy, people with differing personalities, interests, or backgrounds have a shot at finding romance together. Besides, the notion “opposites attract” hasn’t been bandied around for years for nothing.
So are you ready to take your love life to both Barbieland and Los Alamos? POPSUGAR spoke to two relationship experts for their takes on the Barbenheimer dating trend to tell you all you need to know.
What Is the Barbenheimer Dating Trend?
As move theaters all over the world have been met with fuchsia Barbie fans fused with darker, more serious film lovers, memes have been rocking up all over social media analyzing the differing crowds. And while it’s sparked a mashup of merchandise, it’s also sparked a dating trend.
Pippa Murphy, sex and relationship expert at Condoms.uk, says the “Barbenheimer effect” means daters are actively searching for potential partners who aren’t their usual “type.”
“Otherwise known as ‘untyping,’ this is where singles embrace encounters with people they may not have considered before due to differing interests, personality traits, social groups — or even how a person looks,” Murphy says.
However, Sylvia Linzalone, dating expert at Findingtheone.com, reminds POPSUGAR that this is a long-standing idea when it comes to finding love.
“The dating space is always quick to embrace cultural trends, and ‘Barbenheimer’ is no different,” Linzalone says. “The notion and recognition that ‘opposites attract’ can date back to the ’50s, and what we’re seeing is a reframing of that for the TikTok generation.”
What Are the Pros of Barbenheimer Dating?
By “untyping” their dating-app matches, singles prove their open-mindedness by being more receptive to building a connection with people they might not otherwise consider. Murphy explains: “The ‘Barbeinhemier effect’ can also alleviate the pressure of dating. Having a rigid type often forces individuals and their dates to fit into a predetermined mold . . . People can focus on getting to know each other as unique individuals, leading to more authentic and fulfilling connections.”
Linzalone also adds that dating in this way can have added benefits for your self-growth, not just for the type of person you end up with. “Whether it’s in work or dating, [pushing] yourself out of your comfort zone can help you develop and grow as a person. That can apply to finding partners that do the same, and they’re really attractive things to find in a relationship so you can flourish together,” she says.
What Are the Cons of Barbenheimer Dating?
Although it’s important to be open-minded in all aspects of life, it can be hard to navigate relationships if you don’t have any idea of what needs you require to make a relationship work for you.
“When you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, it can be harder to know when you’ve found it,” Murphy says. “This [confusion] can also make you more likely to settle for someone who isn’t truly right for you, simply because they seem like a good option at the time.”
However, Linzalone emphasizes that “singles [should] approach a new dating experience or person without dwelling too much on the negatives.” She explains: “Sure, there’s a wealth of research that points to people who share many similarities being more likely to date, but that doesn’t mean an unlikely fit (or an opposite) is around the corner. Dating can be hard work, and trends like Barbenheimer should be considered moments of inspiration for daters to cling to and embrace.”
That said, just because opposites are said to attract, it isn’t an excuse to go into a relationship with the aim of changing your partner or making them your project. There’s beauty in individuality, and — much like the Barbenheimer weekend showed us — there’s a place for self-expression in 2023.
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