When we're little, our mother is the center of our attention, and we are the center of hers. So our mother's characteristics leave an indelible impression, and we are forever after attracted to people with her facial features, body type, personality, even sense of humor. If our mother was warm and giving, as adults we tend to be attracted to people who are warm and giving. If our mother was strong and even-tempered, we are going to be attracted to a fair-minded strength in our mates.
The mother has an additional influence on her sons: she not only gives them clues to what they will find attractive in a mate, but also affects how they feel about women in general. So if she is warm and nice, her sons are going to think that's the way women are. They will likely grow up warm and responsive lovers and also be cooperative around the house.
Conversely, a mother who has a depressive personality, and is sometimes friendly but then suddenly turns cold and rejecting, may raise a man who becomes a 'dance-away lover.' Because he's been so scared about love from his mother, he is afraid of commitment and may pull away from a girlfriend for this reason.
While the mother determines in large part what qualities attract us in a mate, it's the father--the first male in our lives--who influences how we relate to the opposite sex. Fathers have an enormous effect on their children's personalities and chances of marital happiness.
Just as mothers influence their son's general feelings toward women, fathers influence their daughter's general feelings about men. If a father lavishes praise on his daughter and demonstrates that she is a worthwhile person, she'll feel very good about herself in relation to men. But if the father is cold, critical or absent, the daughter will tend to feel she's not very lovable or attractive.
What about opposites? Are they really attracted to each other? Yes and no. In many ways we want a mirror image of ourselves. Physically attractive people, for example, are usually drawn to a partner who's equally attractive.