Observations on Attraction

July 12, 2010

When I was a freshman at UMass I took a psychology course, and probably the most fascinating subject we discussed was the element of attraction. Having recently made some interesting observations, I really wish I could go back and ask my professor about a few things I’ve noticed since finishing the class:

1. A lot of people who are in relationships tend to look like their partner. Not like twins, but they do have similar facial features, just enough to be unnoticeable without close inspection. Maybe people are more likely to be attracted to someone who’s face resembles their own? An interesting theory, one that would take a lot of research to prove.

Before we were dating, a lot of people told my ex and I that we could pass for brother and sister. Creepy, but interesting nonetheless. I’ve seen this happen with my friends as well, and it’s not always the case but a lot of the time it is.

2. A lot of people who start new relationships tend to date partners who look like their ex’s. This could be attributed to the fact that a person may have a “type” and so the people they date are similar, but in the examples I’ve seen it seems to be more than that. Usually it’s because of an unfulfilled relationship with one person, which leaves the other person craving more emotionally, so when they find someone similar to their ex they are instantly more attracted to them, in the subconscious hope of having closure on their previous failed relationship.

A different ex of mine had a years-long crush on one of her friends in high school, which to her chagrin never became anything. In college she met me, and eventually we started dating. I later met the 1st boy when he and a few others came to visit her at school. Not only did he have the same sense of humor as me; he had a similar personality, a similar face, similar hair, even a similar voice. It became very clear to me at this juncture that I was the 2nd boy, and that my relationship may have very well been the result of her unfulfilled relationship with this 1st boy. It was disheartening, but in the end I learned from it.

Also, a boy I knew in high school had a well-known bad relationship with a girl from our school. They split up for whatever reasons and it made both of them very sad and angry. A year later I was facebook creeping and noticed that this boy was in a new relationship, sure enough with a girl who looked exactly like the 1st girl.

Maybe I’m putting too much weight on the experiences of a few, but these observations fascinate me to no end. If you’re ever curious, do some home research yourself. How similar are your exes? How similar are you to your ex’s exes? Take the time to notice these things yourself, and let me know if they hold true or not.

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4 Responses to “Observations on Attraction”

  1. Arlee Bird said

    I think there is a lot to what you have observed and I’m pretty sure I’ve read about some research that has been done on this. I have found many similarities between me and my exes and my present wife, not just in appearances, but in certain mannerisms and interests, which makes sense. I find my present wife making references about her exhusband that are very similar to the way I am–and these are things that she doesn’t seem to like. Why would should she have gotten involved with two guys that had the same interests which tend to irritate her?

    • What you said about your wife is exactly the kind of thing I wonder about. If what Michael Eriksson says is true, then perhaps genetics is the answer. If nothing conscious can explain these things then perhaps something as subconscious as DNA could be the key to such paradoxes.

  2. Apparently, a significant portion of physical attraction is based on “genetic compatibility”, which often (but not always) results from having similar genes. (In addition, at least for women, there may be some amount of attraction due to similarity between the partner and the original family members—allegedly, many women are attracted to men who remind them of their respective father.) From this POV, similarities in looks are quite plausible.

    For long-lasting couples, other factors may play in, e.g. similarities in mimics or body language (which can have a surprisingly large effect).

    • That’s really fascinating! This is the kind of stuff I’d love to learn more about given the chance.

      I believe I’ve heard of the father-figure theory, in the sense that a lot of women with father issues statistically tend to have less successful relationships.

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