Two characters have a difficult relationship not because of their differences, but because of their similarities. This is most commonly seen between parents and children or romantic couples, but there's plenty of room for it in other relationships.
This can be a sign of latent (or not-so-latent) self-loathing; the character hates himself, so he also hates people who remind him of himself. Or it can be a matter of certain traits' needing to be complemented rather than mirrored in a relationship: someone who talks all the time and someone who would rather listen are obviously better off with each other than with partners like themselves.
for a list of examples of how differing personalities can be better together. Compare Opposites Attract
, You Remind Me of X
, Hypocritical Humor
, You Are What You Hate
, Turn Out Like His Father
, Evil Parents Want Good Kids
, Your Approval Fills Me with Shame
, Doppelganger Dating
. Contrast Birds of a Feather
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- Art Spiegelman, the author/narrator of Maus, mentions this off-hand to his fiance, as he once had a girlfriend who was also Jewish and Middle-Class, but Art then mentions that because they were so similar that it was weird to get erotic with the girl.
- In Road to Perdition, Michael Sullivan, Jr., feels like The Unfavorite and eventually asks his father straight out if he liked Michael's murdered brother better. His father says that he didn't, and that if he treated them differently, it was because Michael reminded him of himself, and he didn't want his own son to Turn Out Like His Father.
- Jo and Laurie from Little Women are one of the most famous examples, although when Jo turns down his proposal she also points out the things that are too different about them (she wouldn't like high society, and he wouldn't like her writing).
- In the Tortall Universe, Alanna's relationship with Liam doesn't work out because they're such similar people: stubborn and temperamental warriors with Chronic Hero Syndrome who aren't willing to adjust for each other, or for anything. George, the man she marries, is a much more laid-back, humorous type.
- In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie takes after her mother, Katie — striking her as ordinary — while her younger brother Neeley takes after their father, a handsome and loving but unreliable alcoholic. Katie devotes herself to making sure Neeley grows up to be like the man she fell in love with, but without his flaws, leaving Francie to fend for herself. She tries to hide her Parental Favoritism, but Francie understands her mother's motives instinctively.
- A key element of the novel The Stone Angel is that Hagar Shipley insists that her younger son John is just like her while his older brother Marvin is like their father. In reality, the opposite is true and Hagar is simply deceiving herself. The stodgy, proper Marvin is just like his mother which is probably why she dislikes him so much.
- Maya and Frank in the Red Mars Trilogy are attracted to each other, but they're both such Manipulative Bastards that it turns into a miserable time for both of them.
Live Action TV
- On Seinfeld, Jerry (being a narcissist) falls in love with a woman, played by Janeane Garofalo, because they have so much in common; he gradually realizes (being a self-loathing narcissist) what a mistake this is. He tells Elaine how it ended: they were sitting across from each other at Monk's when they both blurted out, "I hate you," and just like that they went their separate ways, still marveling over how they were always on the same page.
- Red Dwarf:
- The episode "Me^2", in which Rimmer's self-loathing means that two copies of him end up unable to talk to each other, with one of them openly desiring the other's death.
- In "Parallel Universe", Lister and Rimmer meet their female versions. Dave Lister thinks Deb Lister is gross for a girl, but they avert the trope as they actually get on very well. However, Arnold Rimmer is completely disgusted by Arlene Rimmer.
- On Babylon 5, this was the reason for John Sheridan's divorce from his first wife, Elizabeth Lochley. They had a lot in common, including their commanding dominant personalities. They quickly realized that getting married was a mistake, and claimed the divorce saved their friendship.
- Friends: Monica's boyfriend Pete in Season 3, who like her was a Competition Freak and Control Freak. She eventually broke up with him because she couldn't deal with his stubborness. In the next episode, her relaxed and easy-going best friend Chandler implies he has feelings for her, laying the groundwork for them falling in love a season later. Their subsequent relationship and marriage is a very happy one, as they don't clash like she and Pete did.
- To a much lesser degree, Kathy, Chandler's last girlfriend before Monica also qualifies. They initially bond over their favourite tv shows and books and share a similar sense of humour. However in hindsight they both struggle with communication in a relationship and have Commitment Issues, which leads to their break up. The stable and level-headed Monica however, helps him overcome these problems rather than making them worse.
- Dr. House gets rid of one of his candidates because they think too much alike; the purpose of House's team is to challenge him and provide avenues of investigation he wouldn't have thought of alone.
- On 30 Rock, Liz broke up with Carol for this reason, and later it was made explicit that she and Criss were a good fit because of their differences. There was also an episode where Liz and Jenna had a fight and went looking for new best friends more like themselves, only to realize why they needed each other: Jenna is an Attention Whore who can't be around other people who will compete for the spotlight, and Liz is so negative that having another negative person to bounce off is just "exhausting"; she needs someone so vacuous and self-absorbed that they'll just let her vent because they're not even listening. (This helps answer the oft-asked and oft-lampshaded question of how these two were ever friends to begin with.)
- In The Borgias, Rodrigo and Cesare's increasingly strained relationship is in no small part because they're so similar to each other; "all the fire and the fury, the drive, the pitiless ambition" which makes Cesare bridle at his constantly being denied real power, and Rodrigo's guilt for what they do gets exacerbated when he sees his own traits in Cesare. At the end of Season 2, Rodrigo starts to explain to Cesare that Rodrigo favoured Cesare's idiot younger brother Juan because Juan didn't continuously remind Rodrigo of his own faults, but the conversation is interrupted by Rodrigo being poisoned. The conversation finally gets finished at the end of Season 3 (after spending most of the intervening time undermining each other in various ways,) when Rodrigo blurts out to the man trying to reconcile them "I look into his eyes, I see myself! Do you expect me to love that!?"
- In Noob, Omega Zell is a misogynist and Gaea a woman who doesn't like being demeaned. Gaea, on the other hand, displays behaviours that Omega Zell tends to not approve of in general. Aside from this, the two don't get along simply from both being self-centered, somewhat superficial and ambitious yet unwilling to take the slow path people that can't deal with a world view other than their own, especially the one held by the other. Their similarity has even enabled one of them to second-guess the other's intentions at least once.
- In The Sims 3, most traits you can give a Sim strengthen the relationship when encountered in another Sim, but the "snob" trait conflicts with itself. Snobby Sims prefer someone with the "easily impressed" or "schmoozer" trait, who will agree that the snobby sim is superior.
- If (male) Shepard decides to break up with Miranda in Mass Effect 2, he uses this exact phrase.