This was a few years back, but I’ll never forget the comment made by a new girlfriend of a friend upon meeting my husband and me for the first time: “Wow. You two look like brother and sister.” Um, thanks? I laughed off her remark, but, subconsciously, it did creep me out that we might look alike. I remembered having read about a popular study done in the ’80s, which claimed that couples start looking more and more alike over the years of cohabiting, because of their influence on each other. So maybe that’s what was happening to us, I thought. But still, egads! Would we end up being that middle-aged couple — the one with the same short haircut, furry chin, and potbelly, wearing matching jumpsuits to the grocery store? Were we on our way to becoming … the same person? So did we just look like each other or were we starting to look like each other? I don’t really know. Thankfully, no one has made such a comment since. (For the record we don’t look identical: I have auburn hair, freckles and hazel eyes; he’s a freckle-less dirty blond with blue eyes. I have a pug nose; he has a strong one, etc. But we also do have many similarities — we both have fair skin and slightly curly hair that we wear long, squinty eyes when we smile, and big heads, and perhaps we carry ourselves similarly?)
New research came out this week on psychology blogs, though, to reinforce that creepy feeling I had years ago from that brother-sister comment and to prove that we do pick people who are like us, physically and psychologically. Researchers at Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota interviewed 1,296 couples, who have been married for an average of 19.8 years, and discovered that the couples’ similar characteristics didn’t develop over the years, but were there from the get-go, from the point of courtship. So, we are kind of narcissistic it seems; or just sensible that we want partners who agree with us?
Of course, all these studies are kind of silly. I mean, my husband and I are similar in some ways and wildly different — complete opposites — in others, both physically and psychologically. Try as they might, how can scientists ever break down the mystery that is romance? Those of us in or looking for relationships can’t get bogged down thinking about these things; the only thing that matters is that we’re happy with ourselves and our relationships.
But you can bet your bottom dollar that dating sites like Match.com and OKCupid are paying attention to this research and likely incorporating it into their matchmaking programs.