As Odd As It Seems, Couples Look Alike For A Reason

by Karen Johnson
Originally Published: 
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Have you ever dated or even married someone who kind of looks like you? Or maybe you don’t see the resemblance but everyone else does? As freaky and oddly unsettling as it is, it turns out it’s actually pretty common (and not creepy) to find yourself attracted to someone who resembles you. And no, that doesn’t make you a narcissist. It just means you’re human. Science says so, we promise.

Time magazine reports that it’s actually a natural (and usually subconscious) human tendency to be attracted to what you know and are comfortable with—including the facial features of a potential mate.

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And what about old married couples who don’t start off looking alike but become more and more similar over time? That one’s explained here too, via a study conducted at the University of Michigan. These researchers found that “decades of shared emotions result in a closer resemblance due to similar wrinkles and expressions.” After years of binge-watching the same Netflix shows and laughing at old Friends re-runs and being exasperated by your tween’s moodiness and blatant protests against personal hygiene, your faces start to look the same. You might have the same laugh lines, the same worry lines, and the same pissed-off lines because you’ve had a lot of the same life experiences.

Social media has, of course, jumped on this bandwagon by creating social channels like Boyfriend Twin on Tumblr. Because who doesn’t like a good human phenomenon to scroll through our phones and read about late at night when we should be sleeping? No one, that’s who.

The Time article also reports the findings of a 2013 study through which people were shown their partner’s faces digitally altered with other features (some random, some from the study participant’s own face) and guess which ones the participants usually chose? That’s right! They liked best when their partners’ faces were altered to look like them—both men and women.

And also on the why-are-humans-weird scale is this one: Not only do we prefer partners who look like us, but guess who else we are also attracted to? IMAGES OF OUR PARENTS. Weird? Creepy? Gross? Or just human nature? We’ll let you decide.

Author Justin Lehmiller weighed in saying that it’s totally fine and that we are attracted to those who share similar traits with our parents because they are comforting and familiar. So I guess if we see our mom’s face, we think of her making us hot soup when we’re sick or doing our laundry for us when we come home from college? Or our dad playing catch with us in the backyard or paying us $3 to mow the lawn when we were 10? Because then yeah, I guess that makes sense.

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Time also says that humans tend to be attracted to others with similar genetic makeup because oftentimes, “genetically matched folks tend to find each other because of social, cultural or environmental common ground.” So it’s actually pretty common to find someone with similar ancestry and genetic heritage in the environment you live in—whether that means your neighborhood or even region of the country.

And how about people who look like their pets? Have you seen how obsessed people are with their fur-babies? I mean, if we can be attracted to humans who look like us, it’s no surprise that we might gravitate toward a puppy with a face like ours. Especially because doppelgänger dog selfies are the best selfies—amiright?

However, modern dating trends seem to be impacting this “I like people who look like me” phenomenon, Time reports. For one, people are marrying later in life, which means they have more years under their belt—and more years means more experiences, more laugh lines, more sad days, and more happy ones. Finding your partner at 40 rather than 20 might make it harder to find someone who looks like you. Because you’ve both lived 20 extra years and have had two decades more of experiences than your 20-year-old self.

Also, online dating seems to changing it up too. Yeah, you can swipe left or right with abandon and still pick potential dates with your nose or eyes or eyebrows, but online dating and dating apps mean you can more easily find mates outside of your social circle or immediate environment—which means a greater likelihood of genetic differences. And finally, the world has evolved, making interracial coupling far more common than years ago. Kids today are taught that love is love and all that matters is finding a S.O. who is kind and supportive.

However, despite evolution and a more open-minded mindset, it appears that humans still often gravitate toward partners with similar physical traits. So if that applies to you, it’s okay. That doesn’t mean you’re obsessed with yourself or have unresolved issues from your childhood. Finding yourself attracted to another human who resembles you just means you find that person comforting, familiar, and who knows?

Maybe you’ll make an adorable pair who goes viral on IG.

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