The Barbenheimer Dating Trend, Explained

Summer 2023 has given us multiple blockbuster hits, but nothing compares to the "Barbie"-"Oppenheimer" showdown. The two films premiered on July 21, but besides their shared release date, they seem to have little in common. "Barbie" is a lighthearted, women-centric story about the titular doll, while "Oppenheimer" is a gripping drama about the man who helped develop the catastrophic WW2-era atomic bombs.

Leading up to July 21, memes flooded the internet, poking fun at the films' differences. But, surprisingly, many fans opted to watch both "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" (during opening weekend, the Associated Press reported that 200,000 people in North America had booked double-feature tickets). The opposing titles seemed to balance each other perfectly, sparking the "Barbenheimer" nickname — and inspiring a new dating trend.

Essentially, the trend embraces striking up a romance with someone who's your polar opposite, and it's been gaining steam even before "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" landed in theaters. "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," Sylvia Linzalone, dating expert at, explained to PopSugar. Similar trends also helped pave the way for Barbenheimer dating, including TikTok's "Filet-O-Fish" theory and 180-dating.

The benefits and drawbacks of Barbenheimer relationships

Barbenheimer dating is an invitation to swipe right on people you otherwise wouldn't and mingle with dates who bring a fresh perspective to the table. And bonus: Finding an "Oppenheimer" partner to complement your inner "Barbie" could help you grow as a person. "Whilst dating outside your usual type can be new or intimidating to some, it can connect you to someone who pushes you to become the best possible version of yourself," Emma Hathorn, an expert from dating app Seeking, revealed to Indy100. Your unique strengths can also bring some stability to the relationship, as Latasha Matthews, an individual, couples, and family therapist, told Bustle.

However, there can be downsides to Barbenheimer relationships. A 2018 study published in the journal Self and Identity found that partners with too many differences tended to experience more conflict and struggled to blend their identities. Hathorn echoes these findings, adding, "Whilst the thrill of entering each other's worlds can reap many benefits, contrary views and beliefs are likely to arise at some point, leading to some potential confrontation." In short, Barbenheimer dating can be a thrill but don't expect to always see eye to eye.

How to embrace the movie-inspired dating trend

You can hop on the Barbenheimer dating trend by coupling up with someone who has a different demeanor (think black cat-golden retriever pairings) or interests that vary from your own — but that's just the beginning. You'll need to keep a few things in mind to maintain your opposites-attract relationship.

First, use your Barbenheimer relationship as an opportunity to stretch outside your comfort zone and adopt some new habits. "Opposites usually attract because they see qualities in the other person they wish they had," Keischa Pruden, therapist and owner of Pruden Counseling Concepts, shared with The Zoe Report. "For example, a 'Type A' person may be attracted to a more laid-back person because they wish they could relax more. A frugal person may be attracted to a person who spends more freely, enjoying the fact that someone else can be so free with their finances." Consider what you can learn by being with someone so different.

It's also important to accept your differences and not try to change the other person. Discuss the ways in which you clash and even treat them with humor (like the Barbenheimer memes did) when possible. Even though acceptance is critical, you don't have to accept all differences — especially if it means sacrificing your personal needs. As psychologist Dr. Christine Finn told Well + Good, "Become aware of your own needs, find out your partner's needs, and learn to talk about that. Then, decide if changes can be made."