If you listen to the psychology research, falling in love isn’t a matter of destiny — it’s a mixture of biology, upbringing, and context.
But that doesn’t make it any less mysterious.
Since your partner plays a significant role in your long-term health, happiness, and career prospects, we’ve scoured the studies and collected some of the reasons two people click.
If you’re really, really alike.
Decades of studies have shown that the cliché that “opposites attract” is totally off.
“Partners who are similar in broad dispositions, like personality, are more likely to feel the same way in their day-to-day lives,” said Gian Gonzaga, lead author of a study of couples who met on eHarmony. “This may make it easier for partners to understand each other.”
If you share three basic compatibilities.
According to the work of Canadian psychologist Eric Berne, the best-matched couples vibe on three different levels.
His popular books about the model became best sellers, namely “The Games People Play.” Drawing somewhat on Sigmund Freud, his theory argued that every person has three “ego states”:
- The parent:What you’ve been taught
- The child:What you have felt
- The adult:What you have learned
When two people are really compatible, they connect along each tier. Couples therapist Peter Pearson gave us a few questions for figuring out compatibility at each level:
- The parent: Do you have similar values and beliefs about the world?
- The child: Do you have fun together? Can you be spontaneous? Do you think your partner’s hot? Do you like to travel together?
- The adult: Does each person think the other is bright? Are you good at solving problems together?
If you stare into each other’s eyes for two minutes
University of Massachusetts psychologist Joan Kellerman asked 72 unacquainted undergrads to pair off and stare into each other’s eyes for two minutes.
“They later reported they had increased feelings of passionate love and affection towards the other person,” Scientific American reports. “This suggests that long periods of eye contact can connect you to someone and even ignite feelings of love inside you for that person you have never previously met.”
If you respond to their “bids” for attention and you do the same for them.
Starting — and growing — a relationship seems to largely depend on how people attend to one another.
Over 40 years of studying couples, psychologist John Gottman says it’s a matter of “bids.” For example, if a bird-loving wife points out to her husband that a goldfinch just flew landed in a nearby tree, he can “turn away” from her by dismissing the remark or “turn toward” her by sharing her enthusiasm.
As Emily Esfani Smith reported, the results of the “bids” are staggering: in one of Gottman’s studies of marriage, couples who divorced after six years had the “turn toward” reply 33% of the time, and the couples that were still together had the “turn toward” 87% of the time.
If you smell right.
A University of Southern California study of women who were ovulating suggested that some prefer the smell of t-shirts worn by men with high levels of testosterone.
This matched with other hormone-based instincts: Some women also preferred men with a strong jaw line when they were ovulating.
If you look like their opposite-sex parent.
University of St Andrews psychologist David Perrett and his colleagues found that some people are attracted to folks with the same hair and eye color of their opposite-sex parents, as well as the age range they saw at birth.
“We found that women born to ‘old’ parents (over 30) were less impressed by youth, and more attracted to age cues in male faces than women with ‘young’ parents (under 30),” the authors wrote. “For men, preferences for female faces were influenced by their mother’s age and not their father’s age, but only for long-term relationships.”
If you take care of your dog.
In a University of Michigan experiment, women read vignettes about men. Whenever the story featured a person who owned a dog, women rated them with higher long-term attractiveness.
This is because, researchers have hypothesized, pet ownership could signal a nurturing nature or a tendency toward commitment. It could also make you appear more relaxed, approachable, and happy.
If you are equally or less good-looking compared to them.
In a 1996 study, each participant was rated on physical attractiveness and then randomly assigned to date another participant. Then, participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with their dates. The participants who were more attractive were harsher in their judgments — even if they were both equally attractive. The better looking someone was, the less satisfied they were likely to be.
But this only applies to the really attractive people. For the rest of us, according to the matching hypothesis, we are more likely to love those who are equally as attractive as us.
Autor: Drake Baer